Updated: September 26, 2021 04:46 AM GMT
Taliban fighters stand guard in a vehicle in Kabul on Aug. 16 after a stunningly swift end to Afghanistan's 20-year war as thousands of people mobbed the city's airport trying to flee the group's hardline brand of Islamist rule. (Photo: AFP)
The Biblical verse “Let the dead bury the dead" (Matthew 12:12) has many interpretations and meanings. I am neither a theologian nor a Bible scholar to interpret the true meaning of these words from Jesus Christ.
The world is full of the pain and misery of millions of desperate and helpless souls. We have every reason to believe that Jesus, who himself faced extreme forms of persecution and the cruelest of deaths, might have meant something similar to what we see today.
The international community watched with shock and horror as the people of Afghanistan, especially the youth, lost 20 years of liberalism, modern lifestyle, gadgets, education and science and technology brought to them by Western powers. Though the neocolonialist masters invaded Afghanistan on the pretext of the War on Terror, it became a blessing for the general public of Afghanistan.
But on one fine morning, the Afghans found everything they enjoyed and valued slipping away from them. The destruction of their dream has been so quick that they have been at a loss for words on how to react.
The world was gripped by horror, dismay and disbelief as if it was a Star Wars movie. Any sane human being should have been shaken to the core watching the tragic scene of desperate Afghans falling to their deaths from a departing aircraft.Thousands were gatecrashing the airport without travel documents and tickets. They ran after moving aircraft on the tarmac as if it was a bus or a taxi. The Western powers that taught them to dream and aspire for a better lifestyle have betrayed them, and they have been denied human dignity.
Are these people in the underprivileged nations lesser human beings destined to perish or succumb to the deadly virus?
Afghans were left to fend themselves at the mercy of the new dispensation — the Taliban. The withdrawing forces washed their hands off their responsibility like Pontius Pilate and must have said to themselves: “Let the dead bury the dead."
For the past two years, the Covid-19 pandemic has raged across the globe and ravaged human lives, livelihoods, economies and the social fabric. Ironically, the human race that took so much pride from rapid strides in every sphere of the universe trembled like a newborn amid the invasion of an invisible but deadly enemy. Scientists have been forced to go on a war footing to halt the menacing virus by developing life-saving vaccines.
With the vaccines came “vaccine nationalism.” The World Health Organization reports 10 countries have consumed as much as 75 percent of the vaccines produced so far. Citizens of wealthy nations received two jabs of vaccines with ease whereas millions in poorer countries still wait for the first dose.
It is also reported that some developed nations have given vaccine procurement orders beyond their current requirements, thereby denying vaccines to billions in the least developed countries.
Are these people in the underprivileged nations lesser human beings destined to perish or succumb to the deadly virus? Here the privileged of this world must be saying to themselves: “Let the dead bury the dead.”
The pandemic has highlighted the utility and value of neighborhood stores in our life. When the supermarkets, retail chains, malls and online giants suspended their operations, these shops acted to prove that a friend in need is a friend indeed. Some even extended credit facilities to customers who were short of funds.
The sad reality is that an estimated 40 percent of Indians have made at least one online purchase and the number of online customers is increasing exponentially. This is a death knell to the life and livelihoods of shopkeepers and their employees who form almost 10 percent of our 1.35 billion Indian population.When persons like myself turn away from traditional traders and opt for online purchases, I am depriving this vulnerable, self-employed community their means of survival. I turn selfish and say to myself: “Let the dead bury the dead.”
"The earth has enough for everyone's need but not for everyone's greed," said Mahatma Gandhi. Today's buzzword “more” is the euphemism for greed. The more you want, the more you wish. The more you wish, the less you care and understand nature, humans and other living beings.
The corporate greed manifested under the garb of development ... can be termed as the return of colonialism, imperialism, exploitation and even slavery
We refuse to accept climate change and global warming in spite of warning signs like cyclones, tornadoes, flash floods, rising sea levels, sudden and unseasonal rains, droughts — the list is endless. The corporate greed manifested under the garb of development to the detriment of farmers and marginalized tribal communities can be termed as the return of colonialism, imperialism, exploitation and even slavery.
Caiaphas, the high priest of Jews, once told Jesus: “You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” Today these words may be rephrased as: “It is better for you that many should perish for the few." That would allow the profits and stock values of the few to flourish as we talk of unthinkable dreams such as space tourism.
India has a huge number of people who have been deprived of their land, livelihoods and education. They are compelled to migrate to urban areas to do back-breaking jobs in homes, factories and enterprises for survival. This ensures a steady supply of unskilled or semi-skilled cheap workers. They will forever remain poor in slums struggling to make both ends meet. They look up to the government for welfare schemes and poverty alleviation programs like Lazarus of the Bible who was longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table.
Can the universe sustain and survive with the dictum “Let the dead bury the dead”?
Dominic Thomas is an India-based veteran international radio broadcaster, producer and writer. He has produced award-winning radio documentaries and programs on Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa. He is currently engaged as a consultant, adviser and content creator for community radio stations in India. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.
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