Friday, February 17, 2012

The role of media and religion in society in the midst of the ‘Christ the revolutionary’ debate.

The media in all its forms does have a very important role to play in society. As the fourth estate and as a gatekeeper it has to make sure that the people of the country get to hear the truth. Knowing the truth is the right of people and telling the truth is the responsibility of the media. Over the years the role of informing and educating people has given way to entertaining people and thus infotainment and edutainment are the rule of the day. As part of the news that should have news value some particular frameworks are being used. This includes writing news based on impact, timeliness, prominence, proximity, bizarreness, and conflict. Sadly, news is made to adhere to the above mentioned so that the audience can be attracted. The most unlikely then is created to attract the attention of the listener/viewer. Noam Chomsky brings out the government-media nexus as well and calls this "manufacturing consent."

Religious institutions also are founded and based on certain foundations which call for the liberation of the poor and the helpless and seek to work towards an egalitarian society. But one cannot help but question the lack of concern of religious institutions towards this cause and the shift towards the creation of conflict and enmity as a way in keeping their existence relevant and continual. In this sense two important institutions in society are taking more or less the same path.

The ‘Christ the revolutionary’ usage which should have not made much of a noise is now at the center of attraction of society in Kerala. For this the term ‘revolution’ has been misrepresented and made into something bizarre which Christians can/should never accept. What is wrong with the word revolution as such? Every religion has in some way or the other been formed with a revolution rather than an evolution. The creation of the controversy has brought about binaries of good and bad, religious and irreligious, sacred and profane, Christian and non-Christian and even UDF and LDF. (Political groupings in Kerala). This is the way media houses create news now but should religions follow suit? And should the word revolution and revolutionary be associated with one party only?

The initial push which has led to the creation of a religion and followers would have always been a protest against something which already prevailed. All established and powerful religions except primal religions were in some way or the other formed as a protest against a powerful dispensation. With religions being organized this original protest has been shifted out of the essence of religion. Those who talk about revolution and protest have now become an embarrassment to established religions.

Both media and religion have the responsibility to stand for the ordinary people of the land. This need not be given to one political party or grouping because this could lead to the poor being left in the dry. Those who are discriminated against need all the support they can get and all have the responsibility to pitch in. Christ in this sense belongs to the poor. The Sermon on the Mount in the gospel of St. Matthew talks of the poor, the meek and the persecuted. Jesus makes a clear remark in favour of them and calls them blessed!

The issue to be discussed is that Christ belongs to all who seek him and he makes a preferential option in favour of the poor. In this sense, revolution and protest also belong to all those who are discriminated against and who suffer injustice. It does not belong to one political party. It is time to go beyond old stereotypes and clichés and offer the truth to people. Only this truth will set us free.

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