Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Vulnerability in the midst of climate change

1. I’m scared dear mother, because of what we’ve done
The trees have been cut and the birds have no place to go
The land has been ravaged and the seeds cannot grow
The valleys have been filled and the waters keep rising

Chorus: Don’t leave me mother, don’t leave me in the dark
I have no place to go, no place that will be home

2. I’m scared dear mother, because of what we’ve done
Our cars are polluting and we can’t breathe anymore
Our climate is changing and famine threatening
Our waste is choking and fumes rising

Chorus: Don’t leave me mother, don’t leave me in the dark
I have no place to go, no place that will be home

3. I’m scared dear mother, because of what we’ve done
Governments are greedy and selling our resources
People are needy but their voices silenced
Creation is losing its habitat but the signs are being ignored

Chorus: Don’t leave me mother, don’t leave me in the dark
I have no place to go, no place that will be home

4. I’m scared dear mother, because of what we’ve done
The poor are asked to leave, the rich take their place
Justice takes a back seat, oppression rules the day
The mighty rob the earth and we are asked to pay

Chorus: Don’t leave me mother, don’t leave me in the dark
I have no place to go, no place that will be home

Friday, May 27, 2011

Why dislike the left?

Conformity is the biggest global rule master in all forms of governance, be it national governments, organisations, religious groups and society. Thinking out of the basket is therefore seen as abnormal and absurd. When one does that, he/she is categorised as a difficult person and one who wants to rock the boat. Therefore education, training, advice is all given to make one conform to the constructed majority opinion and way of things. This being the case one cannot question, differ, and disagree. The church goes through the same framework of constructing those who conform.

One of the stand-out symbols of closeness and fellowship that a Christian priest performs is the drawing of the cross towards the congregation and praying for another, placing the hand on the forehead. This is invariably done with the right hand. But why the right hand one may ask? Why not the left? Some priests I know are left handed and yet they have to train themselves to be right handed. Children who are normally left handed are made to change themselves and use their right hand by their parents. The parents are worried about how their daughter/son would survive in a world of right handed people! This clear discrimination is conformed to by the church as well.

The recent assembly polls in Kerala leaves one asking whether it was a victory for the Congress led UDF (United Democratic Front) or the Communist Party of India Marxist (CPI (M)) led LDF (Left Democratic Front). A wafer thin margin managed by the UDF is already giving the Congress a severe headache courtesy their strong allies. This time the various church leaders in Kerala except a few did not openly canvas for a particular front. But churches have largely been on the defensive over the open vibes put forth by influential members of the Left. Even recently a youth wing leader asked the church leaders to keep to the spiritual upkeep of their flock rather than interfering in things which should be left to the government of the state. Today the CPI (M) party secretary talked of the loss of votes due to the interference of religious and caste based groups in Kerala.

What should people look for when they vote? Should it be good governance, policies for the betterment of the poor and security for all or should it be based on the basis of left, right and centre? Can’t a religious person vote for the left because it is the left just like not drawing the cross with the left hand or can one take a decision based on one’s own right not to conform? This does not mean that the left is on the other hand devoid of all that is bad. If that was the case Bengal would not have voted against the left after 34 long years!

There are two things to remember. One, religious groups should refrain from pressuring its people to vote for one particular party and two, religious groups should not allow any political party to influence people based on lies and withholding of facts. This calls for the true freedom of the people to exercise their right to decide. Right or left, let it be left to the people to choose and live with.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

St. George the martyr in the aftermath of the Osama killing

All forms of media the world over have had it easy for the past week as they have managed to fill up valuable spaces of print offline and substantial volume of pages online in the days following the killing of Osama bin Laden. As scores of people have hailed the assassination as a closure for 9/11, voices spread over the world have asked for sanity to be followed, over and against celebration and victory parades. But one thing is for sure. Small and big media enterprises, blogs and social networking sites have given Osama the space otherwise reserved for other things, and that too free of cost! What does one have to be to get coverage in the media? Good, bad or ugly?

A small review of various forms of media these days suggest that one needs to be bad or ugly, in reality or in perception, to be given space. The good no longer matters. No one is interested in that. Churches the world over are going about celebrating the festival of St. George. The officer in full gear is seen slaying the dragon and hundreds of thousands of people sport St. George as their personal slayer in chief.

The account of St. George is that of a soldier who slays the dragon and saves the princess in distress and the people of the community from the deadly enemy. The dragon is seen as a symbol of all that is evil and bad. St. George comes across as a natural saver for people in distress, suffering from evil forces.

But what goes into the background usually is the martyrdom of St. George who chooses death over life, refusing to let go of his beliefs. His strength is not his spear but rather the lack of his spear. Coming after the passion week observation of the crucifixion of Christ, this is a similar account of the master disarming himself for the sake of others. But instead of grasping the sacrifice we are fixated on the destruction of the dragon, which anyway is much more than what we think of.

The media is also fixated on the bad and the ugly. It first goes on to make Osama the number one enemy of the world and then celebrates his death at the hands of Obama and his soldiers. But is Obama (the U.S.) willing to disarm itself like St. George did? Is he (it) willing to die for the sake of humanity? The answer is no. Of course, no offence to Obama I guess. He just happens to be at the head of the self ascertained supreme power, the U.S. at the moment.

One has to struggle to understand why the U.S. first supported someone like Osama, armed him and then hunted him down. It’s just like fattening the cow before killing it. Power and the capability to kill are being celebrated here. It is not the death of Osama. The media goes along. Construct and build someone, kill him/her and then report it. This formula is the single most important driving point of many media houses these days. I wonder whether Osama will be elevated to the position of a saint because of the way he died. One also has to see whether there were internal plots within the Al-Qaeda to do away with Osama because he is better dead than alive to them.

Churches these days go through the same struggle. How much it has to arm itself and who has to be shot down. The picture of a spear less St. George would be unthinkable I guess. The need to construct various Osamas will be pushed through and we will buy it. The spear of St. George rather than the cross he bore will be given more importance. We are as guilty of slaying Osama as the U.S.! Let the sinless one among us throw the first stone!