Paul Vadakumpadan, Guwahati says, Letter from America
360° VIEW Guwahati, Sep. 27. For a long time, I used to be a regular listener to Alistair Cooke`s BBC radio programme Letter from America. Cooke`s letter was the longest running radio programme in history by a single person, lasting 58 years.
In those days, of course satellite TV and 24 hour news channels were almost science fiction. The BBC radio was our window to the world. An enterprising young student of theology, Andrew by name, even managed to contact the BBC correspondent Mark Tully in connection with a holiday magazine we were publishing from Mawlai.
This time I am also writing a letter from America. Recently I was privileged to do the traditional mission preaching in America, no doubt a great nation, like our own. I repeat what I have said earlier, with even greater conviction: one of the great joys of going abroad is the joy of coming back. If someone objects that this is an act of chauvinistic, sanctimonious, puerile affirmation on my part, I choose not to argue further.
I consider it a privilege to have had the opportunity to spend some time in the richest and poorest parts of the world. In both I saw good as well as bad people, happy as well as unhappy people. I was impressed to see clean, wide roads, excellent buildings, well ordered traffic, manicured lawns, hardworking and law abiding people wherever I went in the US and Canada. There are clear laws. And laws are enforced. All the people seemed to obey them. This is a big difference between rich countries and poor countries and may also be partly the cause of such distinction. In poor countries like our own, law enforcement is weak. Often enough law breakers are not held accountable for their behaviour. On the other hand those who obey the law are not necessarily recognised. Worse still in a context of corruption, the guilty can even be proved innocent and the innocent guilty. This is one of the reasons for increasing poverty and never-ending corruption.
However impressed I was with such law abidingness in those countries, there was one thought often in my mind. If only they could keep God`s laws as they keep man`s laws! If they could desist from creating a culture where sexual permissiveness and atheistic secularism are the rule rather than the exception! If they could only keep the ten commandments of God as they keep their numerous man made commandments. Sometimes I also felt that ``Big Brother`` was always watching. I was even reminded, unkindly perhaps, of George Orwell`s 1984. At the airport security, big brother did not spare even Shah Rukh Khan and Mammooty.
May the great American people, with great achievements to their credit, also feel that the great father is watching, but not like big brother. Finally, it is only His unchanging laws that will make life worth living. A terrestrial paradise can be destroyed by another 9/11 or by the sort of terror that Dominique Lapierre speaks of in his 2005 bestseller Is New York Burning?
The marvel of American progress was the fruit of the work of believers, persons like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Kennedy, Martin Luther King. The post-war miraculous economic transformation of Western Europe resulted from the hard work of leaders, who were devout Christians, Konrad Adenauer in Germany, Robert Schuman in France, Alcide De Gasperi (Servant of God) in Italy. All practising Catholics! The so-called dictatorship of relativism will only destroy that progress, not develop on it. God never stands in the way of man`s progress. But man without God could become man`s biggest enemy. Have they already forgotten the story of Communism in Eastern Europe?
Only God`s kingdom lasts for ever. May that kingdom come. And may we do his will. And may the laws passed by our leaders, including judicial pronouncements, whether in India or in America, never go against that will.