Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Preparing for healthy relationships during lent

Being in relationship is an essential non-negotiable aspect of human kind and yet it is something lost on our generation. It is not that people don’t want to be in relationship but many a time they are not prepared for it and don’t know how to go about it. Schools and colleges don’t want to risk a problem and will maintain status quo of having boys and girls separated. Churches are not far behind and more or less fulfill the role of being guardians of morality. Isn’t lent a perfect time to stop thinking of morality and start thinking of good relationships with one another? Hasn’t a skewed understanding of relationships lead to enough damage in society?

Lent should not be seen as status quo or toeing the usual line but as moving away from the usual. Most of the problems we face in society are relationship problems and one among them is the relationship between boys and girls and men and women. We do not allow normal and healthy interaction between boys and girls so that they know how to relate to one another when they sit next to each other in a bus, train, flight, class room or public space. All thoughts of what to say and do are many a time influenced by movies, serials and peer group talks on the other gender. The lent season should be able to give us an opportunity to learn how to relate and behave with people belonging to the other gender.

We have behavioural problems because right from childhood various institutions have prevented us from being normal people. To be normal means to be in relationship with one another. We are brought up based on relationships of power. We are wrongly told that girls should be subservient and boys should express their masculinity by lording over the girls and expressing their power.

St. Matthew 20:17-28 has Jesus talking about his impending suffering. The mother of the sons of Zebedee request Jesus to allow her sons to sit at his right and left. Jesus says that it is not in his hands. The other disciples get angry. This despite their being and travelling with Jesus and listening to his teaching and seeing him live. Their relationship with one another is so fragile that they get into a fight. This is when Jesus explains the basis of relationships. “Those who want to be master must be servant.” For the son of man has come to serve and not to be served.

We have become a society that wants to fix something after it has happened different from the way we want it. We thrive on a media created suspense which fizzles out as soon as the story loses its significance. Because of this we have hash tags and events but do not work on fundamental aspects of life.

Our society is fractured because of socio economic disparity, class and caste divide and religious problems between communities. The lent season is an opportunity to think, understand and come together. Let us use this Lenten season to develop healthy relationships with whoever we come across. Let us do away with the awkwardness of the other and stop sitting only near people we are comfortable with or from whom we benefit. Instead let this season of lent bring about understanding and not demonizing of the other. God has created men and women in God’s image and God saw it as good. Mutual co-existence should be the motto of lent rather than making it an exclusive, individualistic exercise of self-aggrandizement and self development. After all, we are here to serve and not to be served. Amen.    

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