It is the Christmas season. A time of celebrating a new birth that would enlighten the darkness, bring hope to the hopeless. It is also a time of gift giving and receiving, even for those of little or no religious faith. Two of the greatest gifts in my life happen to be also the two largest democracies on earth. First, my birth nation of the United States. I am grateful for the great blessings I have received from this land, its freedoms and aspirations of hope.
But I’m also so grateful for my adopted land of India, the largest democracy on earth. In its 72 years since independence from British rule in 1947, this incredibly diverse land of over 1.3 billion has gone through shakings and testings that have made its diversity and secular freedoms sometimes seem to be threatened. Such is the time that I write. A renewed time of shakings.
In both nations, political events and trends have caused divides that threaten to become chasms of hate and conflict. Deep fissures have opened up in both democracies that if left unchecked and unhealed could threaten that very democratic rule in the coming years.
I have always felt that the destinies of both nations are linked. Both have stories that though the contexts are so different, there are still several interesting parallels. Both gained freedom from colonial rule, both were formed with a commitment to religious freedom and a home for those finding oppression elsewhere. Both have sent their young to fight for causes and wars beyond their shores, their dead lying in graves across the earth. Both nations have given the world leaders like Lincoln and Gandhi who have influenced far beyond their own contexts.
Both India and the United States have been beacons of hope in their own ways. Places where people have fled to when under great oppression. Fleeing to India over many centuries have been Parsees from Persia, Jews from Babylon and other parts of West Asia, Afghans more recently as well as others. To the United States has come the oppressed from many nations as well including Vietnam, Syria, Iraq and many parts of Europe, Africa, and Latin America.
But democracy in either nation will not survive if the foundations are eroded for too long and too deeply. I am concerned for both nations today. I am praying for both nations today. At this Christmas season, I cry out for peace in both nations. We all know that democracy by its very nature is very messy, very contentious. But it is not a system that can survive forever if it is undermined from within.
Please join me in praying for India and the United States of America today.