Living as One Community –The Goal
Photo : Vidur Dindayal
In the midst of conflict, misery, heartbreaking loss of life, the community comes together as one in solidarity to comfort the suffering, to heal, and to bring promise of a better tomorrow.
In UK in the past weeks we attended commemoration ceremonies to mark the anniversaries of attacks on innocent people on London Bridge, Finsbury Park, and Manchester. We did so to remember those who lost their lives and to mourn their loss, to give thanks for the recovery of the many who were injured, for the building of good community relations and for strengthening of friendship and support.
The Service of Commemoration on the First anniversary of the attack at London Bridge was held at Southwark Cathedral which is adjacent to the area of the attacks. I was deeply moved by the strong togetherness of all who took part in the service, followed by the ceremony of concluding the planting of the Tree of Healing in the Cathedral Churchyard, and the laying of flowers at the foot of London Bridge. In the evening there was an Iftar at the Cathedral organised by the local Muslim community.
I saw everyone as one people. From the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Ministers and Shadow Ministers, the Police and emergency services, Faith leaders, and other community leaders as well as local people, we all came together as one to pay respect to our own, expressing in quiet dignity our defiance of discord and division.
The togetherness of public figures and community leaders is a wholesome demonstration to the rest of society, to the public and particularly the young, that in life which is beset with problems, conflicts and social ills, leaders of our society care, they are supportive, they share the same grief, feelings of loss affecting the whole community, that we are not alone, we are together as one.
We come together when a popular public figure dies, like the outpouring of emotion here and perhaps the world over at the funeral of Princes Diana, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, President Kennedy among others. People everywhere, shared in common, that deep sense of loss, the feeling of being part of one large community.
Indeed in other circumstances also, we share that community feeling. I remember Band Aid in 1984, the pop concert, organised to raise funds to help stop the suffering due to the famine in Africa. The concert at Wembley brought thousands together to sing and dance. Despite my indifference to pop music, I found my feet tapping and my soul in tune with thousands of others because of the noble cause.
Here in London with a number of Guyanese and Caribbean religious organisations, as a Hindu member of one of them, I am also a member of three Inter Faith groups. We take part in a wide range of faith events. Recently, there were open invitations to join in at Iftars at several mosques during Ramadan. The benefit of these Inter Faith events is we not only have vibrant Guyanese/Caribbean Hindu and Muslim religious communities, but we also cross over to share in and participate in activities of other religious groups which supports and promotes a vibrant larger inter faith community.
Last week was the Anniversary Celebration of the London Peace Pagoda, built 33 years ago in Battersea Park on the bank of the River Thames. The programme included Inter Faith Prayers for World Peace offered by representatives of the many faiths in London -Bahai, Brahma Kumaris, Christian- Anglican, Catholic and Quaker, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh.
The Inter Faith Community is also a sounding board for other community agencies, like the Local Authority, Health Services and the Police. As one society we all share our concerns on a wide range of issues affecting the community and address them in a concerted way.
Communities of a sort exist right here in our street, which is a tiny component of the large metropolis of London. We in our own street and neighbourhood, bolster good community relations, looking out for our elderly neighbours or lending a hand, or giving a lift if need be. It is a home for everyone, no one should feel isolated, they should feel they belong. It is not different to anywhere else in the world. The positive is that it is living as a community giving support and sharing.
Living as one community, in harmony, regardless of diversity, is a worthy goal for us all. Belonging to a community provides a sense we are not alone. There is support sharing of joy and sorrow. For us human beings, this is the stuff of living. Communities are the building blocks of a nation. Good thriving communities make for a forward looking prosperous nation.