|Quick snap of Hangad on my iphone|
It was then when I realised that listening to the choir sing so melodiously may have just been a superficial experience for me. I was enjoying the singing musically. However, for those others in the audience who have left their homeland to work in Singapore, be it as religious, domestic helpers, or others, listening to the choir meant far more than what it did to me.
I asked myself what they could have been feeling at that moment as they listened to the choir.
What would I have felt if I were them? What would you have felt if you were them?
Perhaps, I would have felt a sense of warmth, a rare sense of familiarity that would comfort and ease my loneliness and the pinning for home in a foreign land, far away from family and friends, from the place I grew up to call my home. In this foreign land of strangers, a familiar face that shares the same background, culture and language brings such intense joy and excitement. How I would long to be home again. How I would long to fly home on the next available flight. When I hear a plane fly by, I would look up with envy. Yet, could I return if I knew that back home, there awaits lives depending on me for survival, mouths relying on me to feed? A sense of burden and responsibility that weighs me down and binds my life to the reality of this foreign land, in which people are not always welcoming, warm and kind. On the contrary, these people may abuse me, deprive me of basic food and rest, treat me lesser than a human person, and pay me far too little for the work they would rather not do themselves.
Have you ever walked past a maid agency and notice the looks on the faces of those seated there, waiting to be hired, to be called upon? Is it painful and distressing to look on? Or do we give an indifferent stare since after all, we have had bad experiences with a particular domestic helper for instance? If our social structures are not made by the rich and influential to favour, precisely, the rich and influential themselves, would there be such great inequality among us?
When God created us with different levels of physical strengths, mental capacities, talents and abilities, did He mean to stand for inequality? Or did He create for us the opportunity to be Christlike to one another, to complement one another so that all may live in justice, peace and sufficiency?
Today, we celebrate World Migrant Day. It is saddening to require such a day to be set aside to deliberately get people to pause and pay some attention to these migrants around us. Without this day, would we still remember these easily forgotten migrants we take very much for granted?
Who are the neighbours Jesus asked us to love as ourselves?
Are these migrant workers not our neighbours too?
We don't need to look very far and say that helping these people are too far-fetched a mission. Are they not within close proximity to us? Most of us have them in our own homes! If not, wait at the dustbin chute at the bottom of your flat or at the bin outside your main gate. You are sure to meet one even within your normal course of the day.
How have we, as Christ's disciples, followed Jesus' command to treat them as how we would treat ourselves, to extend a warm greeting as we would like one ourselves?
How different would it be if we were to treat them as our equals?
30 October 2011, Sunday