A week ago, Pope Francis in his weekly general audience at the Vatican asked Catholics to make space for wonder and surprise this Christmas. “Christmas is preferring the silent voice of God to the noisiness of consumerism. If we can be silent in front of the crib, Christmas will be a surprise even for us, not something seen before,” the Pope said at the audience. He was right as the constant drone of consumerism has blanketed the real meaning of Christmas, which is of course peace and goodwill towards man. Instead, for many Christmas means the rush of shopping, the decoration of houses, the baking of sweets and cooking the Christmas meal, all of which combines to conceal the meaning of Christmas.
Taking this a little further, it is time this Christmas Day for us in Goa to remain silent for a brief moment of time and consider the future of the State by shutting off the ‘consumerism’ that drowns all other sounds only to make itself heard. It may not be difficult, as just last week that were a great many calls going out to the people of Goa and these give us ample elements for reflection this Christmas Day, at a period of time when Goa remains poised for change, but unsure of which fork to take in its onward journey.
After unfurling the tricolour on Liberation Day the political class spoke of freeing Goa of the plastic and pollution menace, and asked the residents of the State to be participants in progress. Later in the evening, activists at a massive meeting at Mapusa called for the second liberation of Goa from corruption and nepotism, where the politicians were accused of leading the State to its destruction. While the call at the Liberation Day official functions may have drawn subdued applause – perhaps also because of the solemnity of the occasion – the response from the 2500-strong crowd at the Goencho Avaaz rally was loud and had an element of conviction to it.
The calls and promises of freeing Goa from plastic and pollution have been made so often by public functionaries and from public platforms that they bring a sense of déjà vu leading to ennui. Hardly any of these are converted into action, and this is an example of another type of consumerism, that is peddled by the political class and drowns out the lack of action taken to convert the words into actions. How much longer will the words and promises of the government remain merely that and see no accomplishment to match them. This is one aspect to remain silent and ponder over at sometime during the day today.
The call of the Goencho Avaaz is not new either. It has been made by various groups and individuals and has seen little change for the better in the State. There is, however, a sense of urgency and determination in what this group of activists who are battling for a Goa of their dreams are asking for. But their goals and the government’s goals do not match.
At the crossroads that Goa stands, there is a wide gulf between what the people want and what the government is delivering, and this chasm is growing. It has to be bridged if Goa is to find the right path to take. Pope Francis went on to say during that general audience, “Christmas is the payback of humility over arrogance, of simplicity over abundance, of silence over hubbub, of prayer over ‘my time,’ of God over my ego.” Here is another call to put aside arrogance, abundance, hubbub and my time for a few moments this day and reflect on what Goa needs for its tomorrow. Christmas will surely be more meaningful this year for this.