Inter-religious peace and harmony has been threatened these days in Goa. We can recount several incidents that triggered an anxiety about the possibility of collapsing peace and good will in our society. Goa that always lived a sense of unity and peace suddenly began to look like furnace of religious conflicts. Although, we in Goa have colonial wounds , Goans have let them heal in the Post-colonial years by putting peace over everything else. Maybe we can trace a pedagogy of peace in Goa lived collectively by the Hindus, Christians and Muslims in post-colonial Goa. We might be able to draw this pedagogy of peace in the very Goan-ness that we developed out of our painful colonial and harmonious post-colonial experience. The every emergence of Goa and Goans and Goan-ness is linked to this pedagogy of peaceful co-existence.
This does not mean that there were no conflicts among Goan’s. There certainly were conflicts and misunderstandings at different times. The colonial time of conversion, separation and loss did affect both the converted Catholics and their own Hindu brothers and sisters particularly in the old conquest. But we can still find narratives that indicate that when brothers separated, they approached the dark painful time with the courage of peace whereby even demolition of the sacred temples did to deter the then Hindus to peacefully escape with their Gods and Goddsses safely into the neigbouring places which we were then not under the Portuguese rule. Besides, we can see how the newly converted Catholics found it difficult to fully embrace the new faith and constantly returned to their old ways of life and even suffered the excesses of Inquisition which in unfortunately ignored by a certain faction mostly with right wing affiliation and is turned against the Christians who were actually the primary victims of the same. The victims are villainized and called to answer for the crimes of the colonial masters. Even in these situations, several right meaning Hindu Goans wrote and told the truth concerning the suffering of their Catholic brethren .
While, Goa, Goans and Goan-ness still has the burden of the gruesome past, Goans always gave a peace a chance above everything. This does offer us a ray of light and a rhyming of hope admits of clouds of darkness that are threatening peaceful cordial relations among Goans. Although, we have to still to come to terms with the dark sides of our history, the manner we have lived harmoniously in the post-colonial era, makes us optimistic of a peaceful future. It has been rightly said that time is the best healer. We Goans do look at the therapeutic dimension of time as we live our present almost unburdened by the painful aspects of our collective past. Goans are peace loving and appear to agree that there is a wide spread unmerited suffering and do not wish to be part of it in anyway. This is why it appears to be true even when Goans are provoked by vested interest and wounds of our fragile past are opened again. Although it is no easy choice for our well -meaning Hindu brethren, yet they have always stood with all Goans who are actually victims of history and not its victors.
The realization that our collective past has only victims and not victors along with our genetic kinship relations seem to be at the basis of the pedagogy of peace that have emerged in Goa. This pedagogy of peace is deeply embedded in our Goan-ness and our way of being Goans is profoundly influenced by it. As victims of the past in different ways, we as Goans have painful memories and yet we have learnt to forget, forgive and move ahead. These painful memories are strongly associated with our identity yet we have chosen an ethics of peaceful and harmonious existence. This is where we as victims of the past have become victors in our present who as shapers of our future are not weigh down by the burdens of our past. Even after the opinion pool that sought to divide us, we Goans have found a peaceful ways of integrating ourselves with Goa and Goans and our mother land India. Living with and through the extraordinary weight of past suffering, Goans indeed have lessons of peace and harmony for other Indians willing to learn and give peace and humanity a chance.
Our past has been cruel. But we do not wish to repeat it and become cruel ourselves. We all have been victims of that cruel past but we cannot allow this cruel past turn us into monsters that will only increase new victims in our living present. Goans do not want to be victims of the past. They have shown that they can be together victors by give peace a chance. With the coming of colonization, we in Goa like others elsewhere had lost our innocence. Loss of innocence takes away our ability to trust. Thankfully, with all our weaknesses, we have ambeld our way to peaceful co-existence. This means we have chosen to rise to a second naivety or second innocence that ethically chooses to trust. This is why even when there are forces in our society that seem to drag our feet into our painful past and aim to bring about a trust deficit among Goans, Goans have refused to give up this second innocence that is nurtured by them and is nurturing their Goan-ness. Goans ,thus ,have found a way to deal with the haunting of unfulfilled future of the past. The past does haunt us in several ways. The saga of conversion and the tragedies of break-down of the temples do produce the coordinates of this unfulfilled future of the past. Even when there are politicians and other forces are trying to exploit the unfulfilled past and promise that they will give future of that unfulfilled past, right thinking Goans have always stood together and shaped a future that is never without the Catholics, Hindus and Muslims in Goa. This ethical choice to remain victors and refuse to become victims of the past is our strength and we cannot lose this at any cost. Let us continue to be victors of our present and future and not victims of our past.