Thursday, January 7, 2010

New year and the power of no

We are still very much in the fervour and flavour of the new year 2010 and it makes pure sense to gung-ho with the things which need to be discussed however weird they may seem to the naked eye. In 2010 technology in all its variants will be blamed again for causing disruption in the lives of people and ruining families. Lives will be lived online and though it wont lead to empty streets, people will complain about the lack of time and the feeble existence of life. We wont have time to meet each other and even keep in touch with our inner selves.

We love a punching bag, don’t we? And in this case it is new media technology. We will know what our friends and family on facebook, orkut and twitter are doing but we wont know what people in our house are doing! True to an extent but who is to blame? I wonder whether in 2010 we will be punching into thin air because the punching bag wont be there to take our punches?

As a priest, it is important to come to terms with life in all its fullness, technology included. Can I preach from the pulpit that my congregation is aloof from me because of something I cant control? Or should I look to myself to see what is happening today? A priest/bishop in Kerala (and I have come to understand that this happens in all denominations) is under severe time pressure. We have to perform according to the needs and expectations of people. We have to attend umpteen programs in a single day and it doesn’t matter whether we actually even know what we are doing by the time we are half through. The physical and mental exhaustion is put aside and we perform the great Indian rope trick, of course in the absence of a rope. After the offline world we have to enter the online world and perform again.

Several priests and bishops I have talked to agree to a common thing. There is nothing they can do about it. Its out of our hands! But maybe that is again only one part of the problem. The other is the fear and inability to say no. Even if we end up being late for programs and hold up weddings, we wont just say no. The only time a no would surface is when I am saying this. No, many would protest. We cant say no!

Ian Fleming came out with his novel Dr. No in 1958 and later it was made into the first James Bond movie in 1962, starring Sean Connery. The villain Dr. No could have got his name because he rejects something and he is to be rejected by the audience as well. No is more of a rejection of yes and therefore something negative and not positive.

This routine continues even now. Obviously priests/bishops and anyone for that matter would not like to be associated with a character like Dr. No and with the no negativism. The problem then lies not in inventions and new forms of communication but in the inherent human behaviour to appear nice and good. But appearing nice/good need not lead to doing something nice/good eventually. 2010 will also bear the weight of the expectations of people mutually on saying yes, with those who will be bold enough to say no being ostracized and decorated with the not too well meaning 'Dr. No'. Poor Dr. No!

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