The progress of a community requires the contribution of each individual. In an atmosphere of communal tensions and social divides, progress and unity suffers the most. This is an enormous challenge for the world. Close-knit communities are divided on the basis of faith, social strata, landlords and farmers, family feuds and social misunderstanding. The Art of Living has proved to be a significant bridge between these estranged communities.
By bringing together individuals of all backgrounds through stress-elimination programs and community gatherings, religious and social differences are brought down. The larger good of society is given a priority.
When riots broke out between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, trained volunteers of The Art of Living carried out stress relief operations and trauma care in the worst affected areas. The Art of Living volunteers worked with the local community leaders to restore harmony among people from different communities.
The Art of Living is also working to end discrimination on the basis of birth and provide equal opportunity to all. In March 2007, The Art of Living initiated the ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ conference to bring together decision makers, leaders and representatives of mainstream and the Dalit communities. The outcome was a seven-point action plan which is being implemented at the grassroots level. In many areas, estranged communities have come together in unprecedented gestures, paving the way for a socially progressive community.
Through the 5H Program, The Art of Living has made a significant impact in volatile areas of the north east of India, which have witnessed violence and militancy for over two decades. Youth leaders are not only helping to rebuild the infrastructure in these areas, but also bridging the divides between strained communities.
Satsangs (Community Celebrations)
As a continuation of our stress relief and trauma relief programs, youth volunteers conduct satsangs (community celebrations) on a regular basis in villages. There are so many divides in every community – such as racial, cultural, lingual and religious. Satsangs act as a community-building exercise where people from the entire community come together, regardless of age, race, culture. This is the time when the pressures and strains of daily struggles are dropped and people immerse themselves in laughter, music, meditation and dance. Whether it is in a community hall, in the fields, in a shed or around a tree – satsangs are an occasion that uplifts the entire community. It creates and enlivens a sense of belongingness and community spirit in all the participants.
Reviving Human Values
Children participate and have a sense of community and belongingness from a young age. This type of security in children is priceless as children turn into adults. They mature with a sense of belongingness with the community and are not limited to thinking only of themselves and their nuclear family, but also think about the well-being of friends and neighbors. It’s a space where people are accepted and uplifted no matter who they are and where they come from. A progressive society is nurtured and values of sharing and caring are revived. Human values dawn throughout the community through regular satsang. The community is infused with a spirit of celebration by bringing people together in joy and harmony.
Starting Community Welfare Projects
People find a forum where they can share their problems and together find solutions with their friends and neighbors. Community projects introduced within this space are collectively taken up with enthusiasm and zest. This is one of the key aspects of the 5H program. Once the stress-relief course is over, satsangs uphold the spirit of the individuals, and also helps the individuals feel responsible for their community and gives them the confidence to contribute to their community. This in turn uplifts the entire community and in the end we have a diverse but harmonious society where people lead a stress-free, healthy and happy life.