Sometimes as the evening turns grey in winter, I reach out to read a newspaper—in fact, a stack of them—hoping for some nugget of hope to clutch onto. There is a mediocrity about information that is stunning, almost as if storytelling is taboo. One dips into a collage about a leadership summit to find a distressing banality. It makes no difference where the leader is from—be it Obama or Ambani, the assessment is trivial, tepid; it touches no moral nerve, it only adds to the stupor of indifference. Be it Modi or Rahul, one realises it is a battle about inanity, where even tea is forced into tepidity by the stupidity of politics. In all these, two men stood out—one a global figure, one a local one. The first is the Pope and the second, Thomas Macwan, both religious personae, incidentally Christian. Neither talks about spirituality, neither waxes hypocritical like a Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on the environment. Both are tough-minded and economical, neither is pompous about religion, but takes the responsibility, the ethical challenge of religion seriously.
The first is the only world leader speaking out openly about the plight of Syrians, Yemenese or the Rohingya. The story of the good Samaritan becomes for the Pope a UNIversal fable for citizenship, a way of responding to the stranger’s plight. The Pope visits Bangladesh and Myanmar to talk of the plight of the Rohingya. He does what Modi should have done, instead of cavorting with Ivanka Trump or questioning Rahul Gandhi’s Hindu credentials.