from team dirs
Our visit to Ranchi in October 2015
Our shared experience led me to realize that the consequences of the havoc unleashed by Climate Change needn't be restricted to the physical environment but is exemplified by the misery of people's lives. In our case, these are the indigenous races, the owners of the land, who for centuries have been living in harmony with the land. But due to vested interests, this land has been torn apart from these people making them employees employed on their own property. Due to alienation that has arisen because of this injustice, there has been a breakdown of culture and traditions that promoted simple sustainable living that we all need to adopt to reduce the ill-effects of materialistic greed-filled living that has caused irreparable damage to the environment as well as to the quality of our own lives.
Observations made by the adivasis at the annual Jesuit National Tribal Festival (JEMAI) held at Ranchi from 23-26 October 2015 also brought attention to the disappearance of medical herbs and homemade remedies due to fast disappearing forest cover. Another contributing factor is the race to shift to modernistic living that is dependent on health care that has been highly commercialized. Another point that came up was the emergence of diseases that weren't prevalent before.
"A solid foundation starts from the deepest roots,
Educating my people is what I choose."
Adivasi youth, due to ambitions created by a now highly prevalent profit-oriented capitalistic mind-set, have shown tendencies of shying away from their own culture. Thus awareness needs to be started to go back to our roots.
We also saw from close quarters the harsh reality of coal mining. The harm caused far outweighs the benefits. The injustice caused is startling. The profit, energy, electricity reaches the privileged while the health issues, the loss of land, the loss of culture, the injustice is faced by the indigenous. My question is whether development as it is practiced today, is a method to rob the poor to make the rich, richer?
Though the consequences are largely faced by the poor, it is a vicious cycle that will affect the world as a whole, as we are interconnected and interdependent.
I would like to end with an insight of Matthew Cobb, a Native American Indian who accompanied us for this festival. He says that if we take out the apostrophe from “people's” we can bring awareness that the land and the environment isn't owned by anyone but the trees, and all of nature are peoples in themselves. Each one of us also has a drum in our own hearts that connects us with all those living on this planet as a uniting beat for change. If we consider the environment as a people in itself, we won't harm it as we will be harming ourselves. Thus we need to consider each step we take as a step taken on sacred land.
A concluding observation: The medium of dance signifies a unique whole wherein everyone joins hands and dances in celebration of culture and tradition. No matter whether you're an Adivasi or not, you get into the spirit of the motion and dance regardless of whether the timing of the steps is right. This could be used as a powerful analogy for all of us to unite together against Climate Change.
Here's a quick review of the Honours Course "Be the Dream: Awaken to Cosmic Compassion" held in 2014 and 2015.
BE THE DREAM: AWAKEN TO COSMIC COMPASSION 2014
Dr. Orla Hazra and Fr. Prashant Olalekar co-facilitated a unique interdisciplinary workshop for a group of 10 students and 2 teachers from Sept. 13-15, 2014 as a part of the ‘Be The Dream: Awaken to Cosmic Compassion’ Honours course. Anthony Dias SJ (XISR) guided the exposure program with the nomadic Pardhi tribes and transgenders at Reay Road slum opposite a garbage dump on Tuesday, 9 Sept. The story of the universe which originated with the big bang 13.8 billion years ago formed the larger context for reflection on the present ecological crisis. The Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm came to life with the field exposure, the cosmological inputs and meditative reflections. There was an ongoing journaling process for 2 months supervised by Dr. Orla and the course was completed with a presentation of projects on 12 Dec. The feedback indicated that such courses can serve to foster the ecological conversion proposed by Pope Francis in his recent encyclical Laudato Si.
AWAKEN TO COSMIC COMPASSION 2015
After the initial exposure at Reay Rd where we witnessed the devastation of the Pardhi tribe and their slum environment, Prashant, Orla Hazra and Candice Menezes, accompanied 11 students of the FYBA SPC Environment class to Khandala for a retreat from 11-13 Sept. 2015 The site was chosen for its ecological beauty and links to social injustices so that we could hear the cry of Mother Earth and the poor more clearly. We dynamically integrated didactic presentations, relevant videos, art work, integral movement, reflection and sharing. There was a growing awareness of our mindset of separation and need for interconnection at all levels.