Today is Earth Hour 2010 and people in India will switch off electricity during 8:30 P.M. - 9:30 P.M. This urge to switch off and even slow down is apt during lent and therefore is something which can be followed to the letter. Slowing down and switching off may sound awkward but is one of the most interesting of things we can follow as part of our lenten routine.
As we journey with Jesus into his time of passion, we are supposed to do so by leaving behind our possessions, money and power. But does it make sense to tell the poor to leave behind what they don’t have anyway? Jesus had a choice of deciding what he would do as he entered Jerusalem. This was because he had the luxury of choosing between the rich and the poor, the unreachable and the reachable and the extra ordinary and the ordinary. So Jesus chooses. He chooses not to make a grand, triumphant entry on a golden chariot, flying through the sky. He chooses rather a people’s approach, and passes through the crowds, accepting their ordinary branch offerings and smiling at their simplistic yet sincere expressions.
The church on the other hand fixes regulations on the poor members while the rich are left in the distant sky, in their own world. But isn’t it that only those who have, can give, only those who have their switches on, can switch off, only those who otherwise eat a lot can eat less? For the poor, this does not matter as they have always lived in darkness, so much that it is normal for them. They have never affected the environment and switched on. Their normal way of living is similar to Jesus’ entry, the grandeur being projected by its simplicity.
The Copenhagen summit in Dec 2009 brought forward some skewed suggestions. The developed countries were seen asking the developing nations to reduce their emissions and carbon foot print and own up to their responsibility. They were asked to switch off. But what about the hundreds of years of perpetual rape of fossil fuels and resources by developed countries? Who takes responsibility for this? As we switch off today we should be aware of those who have switched off everything in their natural existence. They are the ones to whom we should dedicate our switching off tonight. Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!