nonviolent co-existence is a challenge to change the world
Wolves and sheep will live together in peace,
and leopards will lie down with young goats.
Calves and lion cubs will feed together,
and little children will take care of them
Cows and bears will eat together,
and their calves and cubs will lie down in peace.
Lions will eat straw as cattle do.
Even a baby will not be harmed
if it plays near a poisonous snake.
Fr Bijesh Philip, Principal, St Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary,
Nagpur, has shared
his experiences acting as a facilitator as the leader of
one of the Bible study groups at the International
Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) in Jamaica.
His address at the IEPC was on "A Divine Vision of
Non-Violence and Harmonious Coexistence" and
was based on a Reflection from Isaiah 11:6-9 which deals with the
The text appears to be a description of life in Noah’s
ark. It gives a hope of the renewal of the world.
Eschatological hope is described in metaphorical language from the
Fr Bijesh goes on to categorise this into three parts. Firstly, it deals
with peaceful coexistence, secondly with on survival of the weakest and
finally transformation of the jungle into a paradise.
There is no violence which is usual in the jungle in this
picture. Instead the prophecy put the predator
and prey together. Wild animals and domestic ones graze together with
perfect non violence as explained in the text.
In this context, Fr Bijesh explains how the spectre of
killings occurred in Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Sudan
and other parts of the world and in racial, tribal conflicts and
violence. Also those perished in communal clashes like in Gujarat, India
in 2002. Many people are still under the wrong impression that violence
is the means to ensure well being and peace to their community of
But violence is spiral and one violence leads to further
counter violence. This
picture is in stark contrast to violence and wars we see today in the
media. How many millions were killed in world wars and holocaust and
terrorism and war on terrorism. Albert Scheitzer while serving in
Lamebrain, Africa was asked by the cannibals there about
the irrationality of the so called Christians killing each other in
huge numbers in Europe in the world wars. Cannibals kill just to
satisfy their hunger.
The above vision of nonviolent co-existence is a
challenge to change the world and also individuals.
When Nelson Mandela was released after spending 27 years in Prison in
South Africa under the rule of the whites, he could have easily ignited
a conflict of whites and blacks.
But instead of that when this prophet of peace came out,
he was encouraging the South Africans to
own his dream of a country where blacks and whites live together
peacefully, he points out. To a great extent, Isaiah’s prophecy is
fulfilled in such situations.
Elaborating on the survival of the weakest, he explains that the core of
evolution theory is the principle of jungle. But preservation of the
weak is the divine rule which is beautifully described in this prophetic
vision. The images of the calf, the young goat, the young ones of cow
and bear, the weaned child points to the helpless and weak ones among
the humans as well as the rest of the creation. How many weak species
are destroyed by the ‘mighty’ humans in their attempt to enhance their
comforts and facilities? How many tribals and dalits are further
marginalised in the name of development and progress?, he asks.
Lastly, he deals with the transformation of the jungle
into paradise. Domination, conflict, and violence
are replaced by non-violence, peace and harmony. This change is attained
by attitudinal changes in the expected saviour or liberator rule and not
by force or external pressures.
By laws, judiciary, police and army alone the world will
not get peace. Divine grace and wisdom are
important for world peace, peace with the creation.
According to the Genesis account, loss of paradise means
alienation from God leading to conflict of
humans and the rest of creation. The enmity between man and snake in the
Genesis account is reversed here by the picture of a small child playing
at the hole of a venomous snake in the eschatological prophecy in
The root cause of the change according to this passage is
the ‘knowledge of the Lord which fills the
whole world (Is 11:9). The lasting peace of the world is with God only.
The very purpose of this incarnation was to spread this light and grace
in the world.
Fr Bijesh goes on to explain Isaiah chapter 11 which
begins with the picture of Messiah: “There shall
come forth a rod from the root of Jesse, and a flower shall grow out of
his root. The Spirit of God shall rest upon Him…He will judge the cause
of the humble. He shall gird His loins with righteousness and cover his
sides with truth. (11:1-5). (Righteousness will be the belt of his
waist, and faithfulness the belt of his waist). This is a continuation
of the reference to the messianic rule mentioned in Isaiah 9:5-7. He is
called Prince of Peace (9:6) and “great shall be his government and of
His peace there is no end”. The very purpose of the incarnation was to
make our world just, peaceful and holy.
Liju Cherian, M TV