I write you from New Delhi, awaiting a flight to Nepal, with the world on edge after the Paris terrorist attacks of yesterday. With over 100 people killed across the City of Light, the anti-Muslim rhetoric is rancid here in India and bigotry is all over Facebook, but I’ve spent the past few days with my colleague Mahesh Upadhyaya meeting with friends and IPM Project Partners across the faith spectrum.
As we approach the US Thanksgiving holiday, moments like this are a particular reminder for me of all that the IPM Family has to be thankful for and, particularly, how our intentional, interfaith posture remains so important in our world.
On October 29, our International Executive Board held its first in-person meeting since being constituted at IPM’s inaugural General Assembly in October of 2014. While our meeting pre-dated the tragic events in Paris, we reflected intentionally on IPM’s mission in the context of increasingly strident inter-religious conflict around the world and the racial injustice that continues to torment the USA.
That meeting, my time here in India, the recognition of Oscar Romero in El Salvador last May, my teaching of Liberation Theology in the Context of Colombia this semester at Yale, and our plans for Nepal this coming week all provide a vital reminder that IPM’s uniqueness lies in our ability to work across the boundaries that so often divide our human community. Seated alongside two women in interfaith marriages at Gandhi’s Ashram in Ahmedabad this past Thursday was a personal reminder of that same revolutionary stance: IPM’s belief that when we truly and humbly enter into partnership with one another we learn and gain more than we can ever give.
When I landed in Delhi earlier this week, the night sky was awash in the color of Diwali fireworks. The smell of sulfur engulfed the cabin and for those newer to flying the whole landing process was rather nerve-wracking. But there, in the Delhi night sky, were the colorful lights celebrating the festive triumph of good over evil.
Tonight, awaiting our flight to Nepal, my backpack is full of solar lights that your generosity helped IPM provide to bring light back to the earthquake stricken villages where IPM Partners in Nepal. Yet another small triumph for IPM in our rich history of bringing light to the world.
My thoughts, however, are with the people of that beautiful City of Light on the River Seine where so much of my love of Europe and connections to work for justice have been nourished through friends and gatherings over the years. The terror in Paris is not a triumph of evil over good. It is a sickening reminder that our collective work for justice, peace, and hope is far from complete. Another frightening example of how global solidarity continues to be threatened by those who would choose violence in the name of God as there means to force us into further war.
We simply can’t let them win. We must counter hate with love, terror with hope, and evil with good.
That’s what IPM has been doing for more than four decades. It is what your partnership with us makes possible. And, it is how we will continue to fight for what is right in the world when others would have us strike out or retreat into a shell.
Thank you for all you do to sustain and nurture this beautiful, counter-intuitive, movement we call IPM and best wishes for a reflective and peace-filled Thanksgiving Holiday.
Joseph F. Cistone
November 14, 2015