Collins, from that distance, suddenly realised that we are all really one and that, indeed, this planet we call home is a finite and fragile place.
My freedom ends, where your freedom starts”, said Martin Luther King Jr. Profound thoughts hidden within those words! Even as yet another Independence (Freedom) Day celebrations are going on, it is worth reflecting on the question, as to how I use my freedom, particularly in the spiritual sense. Do we, while exercising our freedom, remember that others have a right to the same freedom?
In the articles on the fiftieth anniversary of man’s landing on the moon, Michael Collins, who flew on Apollo 11 with Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, later wrote very striking lines: “I really believe that if the political leaders of the world could see their planet from a distance of 100,000 miles, their outlook could be fundamentally changed. The all-important border would be invisible, that noisy argument silenced. The tiny globe would continue to turn, serenely ignoring its subdivisions, presenting a unified facade that would cry out for unified understanding, for homogeneous treatment.”
Collins, from that distance, suddenly realised that we are all really one and that, indeed, this planet we call home is a finite and fragile place. We need, therefore, to work towards unity and be transformed by mystery. Then, the “giant leap” we might take is not only towards greater discovery beyond our planet but also toward better care for our common home and relationships.
Pope Francis wrote precisely on the care of our common home (the earth) in his encyclical Laudato Si, an urgent call to each one to act, more than talk about it. But equally, if not more important, is what Collins writes about “better care of our relationships”. Granted that the world needs certain borders for administrative purposes, but should it not end there?
Should we or how could we actually consider “others” living beyond our borders our enemies? Are they not our brothers and sisters? What is worse still is to see in our free country, in our own towns and villages, people who profess a different religion from our own or of another caste, being treated as enemies. Uppermost in my mind are incidents of mercilessly lynching other “human beings” to death.
Though the Indian traditional greeting, “Namaste”, has different interpretations, the one I like the most is, “The divine light in me bows to the divine light in you”. Could that greeting and lynching then go together?
Jesus’ fundamental teaching is centred on love and forgiveness. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven”, he taught.
Is not this freedom we all must long for? Can we begin to consider all human beings children of God and hence our brothers and sisters?