Iram, a young Muslim student from Delhi, rang me up enquiring, “Father, are your family members in Kerala safe?” She was asking with concern after watching the landslide, flood and incessant rain for many days which devastated the whole state. As of writing this reflection, more than 100 people have lost their lives in landslides and flood in different parts of the state within a span of two days. Several towns and cities in Kerala were under water. Over a hundred thousand families had to vacate their homes and go to relief camps. Water level in all dams and rivers rose in such a way that people have to climb on the roof tops of their houses to save themselves. Despite opening the gates of all dams in different parts of the state many of them were overflowing. Hundreds of patients were stranded in many hospitals without water and food. All the roads and railway tracks were closed due to flood. The international airport at Nedumbassery was closed due to flood water. People everywhere were deprived of drinking water and electricity. Not just Kerala, but the whole country has ever experienced such devastation in the past due to rain, landslides and flood for so many days.
Iram’s sensitivity prompted her to enquire about my family members in Kerala. I was watching the fury of rain, flood and landslides on TV. I was feeling for the people who were buried and houses which were washed away in landslides at different places. “All who were dead and thousands who are suffering due to rising flood waters are my family members” was my prompt reply to Iram. For the last few days the pictures of devastation were disturbing me.
As I was watching the fury of nature and the unimaginable suffering people were facing I asked myself: Will God permit so such misery to his people? Will God, who is love, punish the innocent people in this cruel way? A deep reflection enabled me to see God’s manifestation in death and destruction. Despite such fury of death and destruction, who saved lakhs of people from thousands of families to safe places and provided food and water? God was manifesting his love and protection through thousands of local volunteers, police, disaster management teams, military, navy and air force. The selfless hard work the rescue teams were giving round the clock in rain, landslides and flood was the manifestation of God. It was God who was working through the government, political leaders of all parties. The generous collaboration and coordination of both central and state governments was the manifestation of God. It was God’s spirit which manifested the human solidarity in saving children, women, the old and the sick without discrimination of caste, colour and creed. Wasn’t it the Divine who dwells in human beings which gave them the indomitable spirit and stamina to face the tough situations?
While I doubted for a while of my own belief, “when crisis appears, remember God is at hand”, God asked me to look beyond the death and destruction. I was glad to see the hard work local people, military and disaster management teams doing round the clock, risking their own lives. Human solidarity and sensitivity were shining in the midst of death and destruction. It is indeed a miracle and God’s intervention that the death toll did not rise to hundreds as it happened in the earthquakes, tsunami and cyclones of the past. It is God’s spirit which made me to respond that all who died and suffering as my own family members. Universal solidarity, which I preach, became a reality by connecting myself with all who are suffering and those who are engaged in rescue mission. The rescue operations carried out by hundreds of military personnel, volunteers and other agencies with their mind and machine manifest the Divine who dwells in each and every human being.
The failure of human beings is that we take God and his blessings for granted. We take the nature and its abundant gifts for granted; we take the air we breathe for granted; the rain and sun are taken for granted; the people who are around for granted; the very life and numerous human resources for granted. We are not conscious of these numerous blessings and miracles within and around us. The tragedies and crisis are opportunities to connect us with the Supreme Being who is present everywhere. These tragedies reveal the God who is present in every human being irrespective of caste, colour and creed. These are the moments we realize the God who is beyond all religions and caste. These are the moments we experience a religion-less spirituality of worshipping the God present in human beings without bothering about their religion, caste, sex and political affiliations.
Once the fury of nature is over, the rehabilitation work will start. As we clean the dirt from our cities and houses we should also remove the dirt from our minds and hearts. Let us not allow the negative forces to build walls to separate human beings. Let us wash away forever the dirt of religion, caste and politics. Let not politicians and religious leaders destroy the spirituality of human solidarity which God has manifested in the days of tragedy. Let us start worshipping God in truth and spirit; Let us worship Him in the temple of human beings.(Published on 20th August 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 34)