As another year – 2015 – slowly slips into history, it’s a good time to look forward to a brand new year: 2016 and the promise it holds
2016 is for Catholics the Jubilee Year of Mercy. There cannot be a better foundation for the year. Mercy is a quality of the brave and not of the faint-hearted. Mercy is not about ignoring the wrong – but on doing all one can to address it and overcome it. Mercy is rooted in justice. Pope Francis reminds us that “it would not be out of place to recall the relationship between justice and mercy. These are not two contradictory realities, but two dimensions of a single reality that unfolds progressively until it culminates in the fullness of love.”
2016 is dedicated by the United Nations as ‘The International Year of Pulses’ (IYP 2016) which ‘aims to inspire young people to not only to think about the role of pulses in feeding the world, but to motivate them into playing a more active role in matters affecting their environment’. Few of us realise how important pulses are to the ordinary person. It is a necessity in one’s daily diet. Yet, the costs of pulses have kept sky-rocketing in India! Will pulses be easily accessible to the poor of India in 2016? We hope it will!
2016 will be year when many will continue to yearn for lasting peace. These past years have been marked with violence at every possible level: from the bombings on innocent civilians to the sinister domestic violence in the confines of one’s own home. Much of this lack of peace is due to divisiveness, prejudices, falsehood and indifference. In a message for the XLIX World Day of Peace on the theme ‘Overcome indifference and win peace’ Pope Francis writes, “yet some events of the year now ending inspire me, in looking ahead to the new year, to encourage everyone not to lose hope in our human ability to conquer evil and to combat resignation and indifference. They demonstrate our capacity to show solidarity and to rise above self-interest, apathy and indifference in the face of critical situations.” We certainly need to transcend indifference and pettiness!
2016 and will we see the return of refugees to a place which they once called ‘home’ that to which they belong? Will the promise that a brave woman like Angela Merkel gave to the world in opening the borders of her country continue with greater commitment? Will we see a whole-hearted response by Governments all over to provide refugee children with more than lip-service education? If 2015 saw the largest movement of refugees in the recent history of the world, 2016 must surely promise a safe and secure return for them.
2016 promises to be a year of promise! We hope and pray that it will be a year of fulfilment too: for mercy, justice, inclusion, security and peace! We need to look forward to this year with resolute determination and to leave no stone unturned to make of it a year worth living for others and for ourselves too!
(Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad-based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace.)