We are just receiving reports that things are getting back at normal in Bangalore. And that’s good.
For those who have been watching ‘Indian’ news, Bangalore was hitting the headlines for the wrong reasons. The Hindu (newspaper) had a veiled story about how some agitation related to the Viraat Hindu Samjotsav (a rally intended to evoke Hindu pride with the slogan, “let us show our strength”). Annually there have been stray violence associated with this event.
However over the weekend there has also been violence, as the Hindu newspaper proclaimed, by people opposing the death of Saddam Hussein. The newspaper, as is the wont in Indian dailies, didn’t name the community, but it is sufficiently obviously.
As a result, on Sunday 21 January, there were two separate mobs functioning… burning buses, auto-rikshas etc.
And… for those curious about ‘religious’ clashes… both groups threatened Christians. One local Church members crash was destroyed (in a Muslim area). Another colleague was threatened… asked whether he was Hindu or not (by a man wielding a short sword, accompanied by a (Hindu) mob)… (my colleague kept quiet (even smiled) and before anything could happen another person (from the mob) intervened and told his car to pass).
Hindus are upset with Christians because they think we want to convert India and thus control India. (I see nothing wrong with anyone converting to any religion, let everyone become Bahai for all I care, if however that is what people genuinely want… not something they are forced to do, or something they just accept without knowing any other option!).
Muslims are upset with Christians because of the perceived association with the US.
And of course we Christians (at least let me talk about myself) are not blameless either. My confession: Yesterday morning (before all this problem), on my way back home, I took an auto who overcharged me and refused to return my change… the amount was only Rs. 1.50… but his attitude was as if he was right and he just refused to give back my change. When I argued, he said what auto-drivers usually say… “it’s just one ruppee why do you care?”… to shame the customer. But at that time the issue ceases to be about that one ruppee and more about being cheated… and so we started shouting at each other (in Hindi)… and in full view of everyone… it didn’t lead to physical blows… but certainly there was a lot of (unnecessary) aggression.
I felt so angry at being cheated… and yet also upset with myself that I let things get out of hand… As a Christian, I sure wasn’t the salt of the earth by any means, I sure was not reflecting the love of Christ.
However another instance shows that aggression is not always about religion. If we think that ethnic community clashes are the end of it… just this morning we received reports that a tempo (small truck) driver ran over two children near where we live… and the driver drove off speedily… and some witnessed chased after the driver in their own vehicles. If that driver got caught, he would certainly be beaten, even killed, regardless of his religion. And sadly, the people cared more about chasing and judging the driver rather than take care of the bodies of the victims, who this source says, lay for a long time unattended.
“What’s happening to Bangalore?” asked someone after hearing this. And the question could very well be, what is happening to the world?
But then, as a Christian, I know while I have no personal moral high-ground, I know that if God is true, and obviously I mean “God” as I have come to know/understand God… I know that God is not distant… but active right now… providing comfort to grieving families, giving courage to people to walk back into the city… and (as in my case) helping a few repent.