November 3, 2022 was a really special day. On that day, Pope Francis commenced his four-day historic visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain, where he received a very warm welcome! Guarantees and calls for the death penalty to be abolished set the tone for the entire visit! I’m here. Pope Francis’ words are indeed music for Bahrain’s Shia dissidents who are being subjected to torture and false trials, harassed and detained. Some of them have been stripped of their citizenship or sentenced to death for their political activities.
But Pope Francis did his best in a landmark address delivered to a gathering of Bahrain’s royal family, government officials, diplomatic corps, religious and civic authorities, and other prominent citizens. Using the long-standing symbol of the “tree” as a metaphor, Pope Francis resonated with audiences in August. he said.Very different realities come together where ocean waters surround the desert sands and impressive skyscrapers tower over traditional oriental markets. Tradition and progress mix. And above all, people of diverse backgrounds create a unique mosaic of life. While preparing for my visit, I learned about the “Tree of Life” (Shajarat-al-Hayat), one of his outstanding “symbols of vitality” in the country. I would like to take it as my inspiration to share some thoughts with you. It seems impossible for a tree of this age to live and thrive in such conditions. According to many, its secret lies in its roots, which lie dozens of meters underground and are drawn from underground water deposits.
He goes on to note the necessity and importance of ‘rooting’, stating: “So Roots. The Kingdom of Bahrain is committed to remembering and cherishing its past. Being a paradise, the ancient kingdom of Dilmun was thus called the ‘Land of the Living’. How Bahrain’s geographic location, people’s talents and commercial capabilities, and historical events make Bahrain a crossroads as we ascend from the vast roots of uninterrupted human existence for over 4,500 years. You can see how it made it possible to shape as of mutual enrichment between people. He has one thing that stands out in the history of this country. It has always been a place where different people meet. “
Pope Francis praised Bahrain’s complex, multi-ethnic and multi-religious organization for overcoming the risk of isolation. As a fitting measure, and with great emphasis, he added: “Think instead of your symbol, the tree of life, and bring the waters of fraternity into the arid desert of human coexistence. Let us work together Let us work together for unity and hope I am a seed sower of peace in this land of the tree of life I am here to experience the days of encounter and to participate in the East-West dialogue forum for the peaceful coexistence of mankind.I am still grateful to my travel companions, especially the religious representatives. , marks a precious stage in the journey of friendship with various Islamic religious leaders, the journey of brothers seeking to foster peace on earth under the gaze of Heaven.” For him, we must embark on a brotherly journey for sustainable peace!
I can’t help but draw parallels with another “tree of life”. In the center of Ahmedabad city stands the Sidi Sayyid Mosque, named after its founder. Built around 1572, this mosque showcases the finest craftsmanship in stone carving.Jaris), apparently made by skilled Abyssinian stonemasons. The 20th-century Indologist and art historian Vincent He Arthur Smith describes these as follows: Jaris As “The World’s Most Artistic Stone Latticework” One of the windows depicts the “Tree of Life”, a delicate intertwining of tree branches. For many years this motif was the symbol of Ahmedabad, and indeed of Gujarat. Diverse cultures, beliefs, languages, traditions and people. Everything that actually constituted a great civilization. Indian Idea and Reality: very different but deeply intertwined. Unity in diversity. A unique tapestry of multi-coloured hues, like the rays of the sun and moon penetrating through the windows. A delightful experience: amazing, simply epic and unparalleled!
But on the other hand, when a right-wing Hindu government seized power in Gujarat a few years ago, one of their first decisions was to ensure that this stone trellis replica was no longer used as a religious symbol. was to do of Gujarat and Ahmedabad. They soon replaced it with a replica of the temple. The move marked a sea change in the mindset and attitudes of the regime that had ruled Gujarat. Far-sighted, not short-sighted. Tiny and not big!Gujarat gave the world the doctrine of Mahatma Gandhi and his twins Ahimsa When Satyagraha – was suppressed beyond recognition. The pluralistic structure, diversity and communal harmony that characterize Gujarat have been slowly and systematically given way to violent divisions, hatred and violence. Religion used as a tool to manipulate people for petty political gain. The complexity and beauty of the ‘Tree of Life’ was poisoned to the core
In another recent move in the realm of tragic irony, the prestigious Indian Institute of Management (IIM-A) officially announced a change to its 60-plus-year-old logo on November 3rd! The logo featured the famous “Tree of Life”. The new logo has some kind of tree, which is “okay”. The word ‘Ahmedabad’ has been removed, but the Sanskrit text ‘Vidya viniyogadvikasa’ (development by dissemination or application of knowledge) has been retained. A few months ago, when a revised version of the logo was unveiled, 45 faculty members sparked controversy by signing a letter to the Institute’s top executives saying they were not consulted on the new design before it was approved. sparked. At the time, more than 1,000 of his IIM-A alumni initiated a petition to retain his 60-year-old logo, inspired by the “Tree of Life.” To understand why IIM-A’s upper echelons calmly bow to the political rhetoric currently ruling the country and distance themselves from seeming minorities, rocket scientists and management You don’t have to be the first person to community! shame!
Pope Francis has given a roadmap not only to those who heard him in Bahrain, but to everyone on this planet! “Let’s go back to the Tree of Life. Over time, many branches of various sizes produced abundant foliage, increasing the height and width of the tree. It has been the contribution of so many individuals from different ethnicities, made possible by immigration.The Kingdom of Bahrain boasts one of the highest levels of immigration in the world. About half the population are foreigners, working in obvious ways for the development of a country where they feel at home despite leaving their home country. We have to admit that unemployment remains too high in the world and that much work is actually dehumanizing, which not only carries a grave risk of social unrest but also human dignity. Work is not only necessary to earn a living, but a right essential to full self-development and the formation of a truly human society.”
There can be no life on Earth if the culture of death continues to dominate humanity. Pope Francis did not chop words in his call to end war and build peace! “Second, the Tree of Life is rooted deep in the subsoil, supplying the trunk with the water necessary for life, and supplying oxygen to living things from trunk to branches to leaves. To enrich the lives of all men and women on earth. But today we are witnessing more and more deadly actions and threats. I think especially of the terrible and senseless reality of war, which sows the seeds of destruction everywhere and shatters hope. War brings out the worst of human nature: selfishness, violence and dishonesty. For the sake of war, all wars bring true death. Let us reject the logic of weapons, change course, and divert our vast military budgets to investments in fighting hunger, lack of health care and education. I am deeply saddened by all these conflict situations. As I look out over the Arab Peninsula, to which I greet with the utmost respect, my thoughts turn in a particularly heartfelt way to Yemen, torn apart by a forgotten war. , the elderly and the sick. And I plead: Let the clash of arms end! Let’s end the clash of weapons! End the clash of arms! Concentrate on building peace everywhere, be specific! “
The “Tree of Life” is more than an emblem or logo. It’s a metaphor, it’s a direction. This is the way to go. It’s a journey: a journey that is deeply rooted, branched, and especially embraces everyone who needs to be embraced! It’s a full life. In other words, what we have to live with today is “sinodality.”
(Father. Cedric Prakash SJ Human rights, reconciliation and peace activist/writer.