12 Sep 2023  |   06:51am IST

Can politics and politicians come into conversations between shepherds and their flock?

When politicians interfere & speak in the same tone as faith leaders on internal faith issues, then the hotline between them gets hotter and does a disservice to people
Can politics and politicians come into conversations between shepherds and their flock?

Guardians of faithful institutions and those who are shepherds have been doing steady, consistent and fantastic service by guiding their flock and helping them steer the course in living a life full of values governed by the principles and teachings of their faith. This is a conversation that the faithful have with their guardians. This is a sacred, pristine and even confidential conversation about life, work, living, relationships and marriage. These conversations are always between that of a gentle guide, teacher and guardian which shows a path to an honest disciple, based on customs, norms, teachings and sacred texts.

They show the path and shine a light on it. Shepherds don’t force the flock to follow the path but work on their conscience. It is upto individuals ultimately to take calls on all matters of faith including the following of commandments which shepherds are duty bound to narrate and point to.

At the same time,  if there is even a rare instance when faith leaders, who are human, and may inadvertently appear to cross the line, and make remarks that potentially may call for introspection,  the needed course correction is done always privately.

It is of great and serious concern for a faith guardian. In a position of great eminence, to publicly make a remark on fellow faith leaders insinuating them of making remarks that hurt other faiths, without any inquiry or discussion. What is done is a private word or communiqué made and a discussion held, to ascertain the facts and the context and if needed a private course correction is suggested. But a generic reprimand is unfair to faith leaders who have served with great diligence and dignity to maintain harmony and unity among people and faiths. They have been honest spiritual and community soldiers. Hotlines get active when governance totally fails

This should firstly not be a matter of public criticism of faith leaders by those holding the highest positions in institutions of faith. And there was a further shock when politicians walked into this issue. And when politicians holding senior positions speak the same language as heads of faith in a place, then it is clear that the longstanding hotline between two neighbours living in adjoining official residences continues to get hotter. But sadly, this neither helps the state nor those honestly guiding their flock of faith. These hotlines are where politics and other domains of faith get overactive when governance fails.

Is there room for political leaders to selectively pick certain faith leaders and caution them?

However, is there any room for senior politicians in critical and responsible positions sand their colleagues in government? To selectively pick certain interactions of specific faith leaders with their flock (which shouldn’t have been public anyway) and warn faith leaders against hutting other religions? Is there, firstly, any conclusive evidence of this? Or any other instances which point towards this?

Politicians interfere in matters of faith only when they have failed to govern

When so-called smart cities become potholed-filled messes, when infrastructure crumbles, when jobs and financial stability are daily monthly and yearly struggles, when law and order are crumbling and rape, sex trafficking and drugs become everyday routine realities, then the discussion turns to past history, to religion and subjects like these which tend to divert from real and core issues. These politicians never really care for the people.

But governments that are responsible and strong always ensure that law and order and the Constitution are above all. One is sure that a strong government will never allow statues of leaders of one community to be built illegally on road junctions and if they are built, their demolition will be done immediately. A strong government will immediately take action against those who seek to create disturbances by placing statues of other faiths in age-old places of reverence of other faiths.

But a government that has failed will always stir the religious pot to keep it boiling to try to stay politically relevant. Sadly, it uses its continuing hotline with neighbouring residences of faith leaders to effectively undermine the hard work of service put in by hundreds and thousands of those who serve their faith and their community well through their good teachings. They deserve respect.



Idhar Udhar