I remember a movie I had seen some years ago, "The Never Ending Story". In this movie, the protagonist-- a teenage boy-- had only one goal, which was to search for a land called Fantasia. Along the way, he faced many obstacles and hardships that almost discouraged him from accomplishing his mission. However, the boy, not knowing that someone--the "EVIL ONE"-- was trying to stop him, was determined to go on, despite all the challenges.
Finally, when they came face to face, the "evil one" said to him: "All throughout your journey to reach Fantasia, I had been trying to destroy your HOPE. When you lose your Hope, then it is easy for me to manipulate you and put you under my spell-- my power". But even as the young hero was almost dying in the battle, his determination and unfailing Hope triumphed over the power of the evil one. For Evil is no match to the inner spirit of one who has undying Hope for a higher purpose and mission.
This story is relevant for our reflections on what is happening today. Looking back on the year that has passed, we see a picture of disasters, calamities and violence in different forms. An international figure was assassinated and political leaders were removed from office, either by self-resignation or being forcibly removed by military powers. The lack of credible and legitimate leaders is worse than ever, while the poor are still languishing in poverty all around the world, and many children are still dying of hunger. Natural disasters destroy billions of crops, and the climate change is taking effect in dramatic proportions. Indeed, it was a year of turbulence and from a layperson's point of view it would seem like the world is going crazy!
Seeing and hearing all these news and events everyday often drains up the spirit-- makes one loose hope, lull in fear and despair, and become paralyzed. And if we allow ourselves to be swept away by all the chaos we might just end up doing nothing but waiting for our final extinction. And that is precisely what the evil force, our invisible enemy, would want--- to put bring us to the brink of desperation, helplessness and Hopelessness.
The Mass Media while it is a good source of information, more often than not, becomes a "media of doom". It promotes hopelessness in the world whenever it broadcasts and prints only the sensationalized stories of violence and conflicts. Moreover, it sometimes feeds on the manipulation of the audience's feelings, provoking us to be angry and indignant. The worst thing is we tend to believe more and more the "doom" that mass media projects!
Now, more than ever, we need to be more discerning of all the things we see and read, especially via the information technology (IT). We have to learn to sift through all of the information we receive and allow HOPE to be our daily companion and ally. We have to create a culture of Hope by spreading the good news that exists in our world which is merely being left behind, overshadowed by anger and fear. PEACE cannot thrive in a world where hopelessness is being peddled on us by media as if it is the only truth and reality.
We have been trained in our faith traditions to discern. Simply put, a path leading to GOD yields positive results, while the way towards the evil always leads to a negative outcome. In these trying times, we need to go back to own faith and our spiritual gurus, to seek guidance in discernment in our daily life. Our different faith traditions speak of the same paths and values we have to live by like Hope, Peace, Love, Faith, Justice, and Truth.
In the Preamble, Purposes and Principles (PPP) of URI, we are provided with guideposts to help us respond with discernment. According to the Gandhian principle: "We cannot promote real peace with a clenched fist because a closed fist is used to strike another, peace can only happen if we open our hands, ready to reach out and hold each other in a gesture of FRIENDSHIP and PEACE."
Now is the time for everyone-- most of all, the members of the URI family-- to really understand and live by the PPP. The world needs our light of Hope to radiate discernment and clarity amidst the darkness that cloud the world today. Together we can light up our region and the whole world by sharing our stories of HOPE and PEACE! And with all of our positive energies united, let us continue to shine forth through our real actions on ground --keeping ablaze ONE flame of HOPE -- SHALOM!
SR. SANDRA G. CLEMENTE, RSCJ