The works of a number of personalities like Amartya Sen (economist, Nobel laureate, Indian Origin), Joseph E Stiglitz (Nobel laureate, economist, American), Naomi Klein (US and Canadian citizen, journalist and activist), P Sainath (Indian, Journalist and political analyst) were so enriching to read and reflect for me. Each of them have spoken on a variety of themes; but I saw a discussion on inequality present in all 4 of them. Increase in the inequality between rich and the poor is a sad reality. Each one has offered his/her set of solutions and alternatives, which again do have some main commonalities. Leap Manifesto prepared by a group of people in Canada invites us to see the intrinsic connection between various crises in the world. A desire for a just world should unite all people to fight for various expressions of injustice in our different local situations.
Pope Francis in his TED talk in April, 2017 calls for a revolution of tenderness. According to him, tenderness is the love that comes close and becomes real. It is a movement that starts from our heart and reaches the eyes, the ears and the hands. Ignatian Spiritual Exercise calls the people who attends the retreats to pray for a special grace at one point of time in the retreat. It is ‘to know Jesus (God) more intimately, to love him more intensely, and to follow him more closely.“ In similar veins, Pope Francis challenged the media for preventing people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply, and to love generously (surely he is not against media, but against the superficiality brought about by excessive dependence on media; he surely would be against the pro-corporate media acting as indirect promoters of inequality). I would surely vouch that many of the videos, I watched, e-books and articles I read made me more conscious of inequality and the extent of the problem. Thus media could (and should) play a role in the revolution of tenderness.
Pope Francis speaks of the beauty of a technological growth and development accompanied by equality and greater social inclusion. He calls for making ‘solidarity’ our default attitude in political, social and economic choices. Pope Francis is optimistic and hopeful even in the midst of inequality; he invites us to act against the evils of inequality. He says, When there is an ‘us,’ there begins a revolution.
The response/solution of Pope Francis has solidarity and inter-connectedness at the root, which are echoed to some extent even by the famous 4 thinkers I mentioned. Compassion is the synonym for perfection in Christianity. Compassion is highly exalted in Buddhism. It is extremely relevant in Islam and Hinduism. Some of the noblest atheistic philosophies like epicurean philosophy and Carvaka philosophy gives importance to our treatment of others (they may not have used the word compassion). Stepping on this great wisdom of various world religions, thinkers and intellectuals, various philosophies, we are invited to make choices which make the world a more just one. The journey (I dare call it a pilgrimage) against injustices and inequalities (political, social, religious, economic, gender) can begin with our choices and lived life based on solidarity and inter-connectedness.