Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Responsible Living

Have you ever yearned for something so much that you were almost suffocated by the conflict between desire and deprivation?

For those of us who practice fasting, or perhaps the abstinence from meat on Fridays, you can probably relate well to this conflict. I have always found the normally unattractive meat dishes unusually tempting and appetizing on Fridays. When I was coughing badly some time back, I had to refrain from eating my favourite deep fried food and from drinking anything that would aggravate my condition. Cold food and beverages were removed from my diet for almost 2 months, and this was extremely painful especially in the hot weather of Singapore.

While Friday passes and Saturday comes again and I resume my meat diet, while my cough eventually was cured and I was again drinking my cold drinks, what is it like to be deprived of a desire for an entire lifetime? And perhaps, not because a flu bug struck, not because I chose to be deprived... but because someone else was morally irresponsible and had dragged me and my entire life down into the dungeon, in which the light never shines, nor is there an opening for my escape? Because of this someone, my life is unlike that of most others, my life never sees the light of hope, my life seems cursed without a cure because someone else decided to think only of himself/herself.

All over our world, countless children are suffering from HIV. Some of them are born with it because their mothers were already carrying the virus during pregnancy. Others, while taking care of their parents with HIV, contracted it by accident. Whichever the case, it leaves them with much resentment because while other children at their ages are playing, attending school, growing up, falling in love, marrying and starting their own families in due time, these with HIV are living in constant uncertainty of when the virus in them is going to act up and turn their bodies upside down. They fall ill so easily because their immune system is weak. A flu bug can send them so badly infected that they end up almost dying, or dead, in hospitals. They carry with them the deeply rooted tension and need for answers to why their parents had given this virus to them, why they cannot be healthy like other children, why is life unfair towards them, why were they even born when all there is in life is suffering. They yearn for a childhood, for a family, for love, for a life that they see in others but know in their hearts they will never ever have. And it is not even their fault.

These children are born into this world, bearing the consequences of another's sins. But they are not the only proof to us that our thoughts, words and actions do, in actual fact, bring about adverse effects. Whenever there is a cause, there must be an effect. And every effect must have a cause. It takes a person so embedded in lies to have his perception so masked in falsehood, disconnected from the reality of life, to go about his daily living without a clue of the repercussions of his way of being.

When society (which happens to be made up of human beings) decided to advance in the name of seeking a better quality of life, it had already consented to oppress the poor. How else can people get rich if it does not rob the poor?

When society decided to advocate for peace by using violent means, it had already consented to rid peace and security out of our hearts. How else can war and terrorism cause us to feel?

When society decided on the rule of life to be that of pleasure-seeking, it had  already consented to high divorce and suicide rates. It had already consented to instil the strong essence of the SELF in each individual. How else can we obtain a pleasurable life if "I" am not in the centre of this life?

When you and I did not decide to shut the mouth in anger, hadn't we already decided to act upon this anger, and thus, hadn't we already consented to hurt the other person?

When you and I did not decide to hold back our prejudices against another, hadn't we already decided we are going to allow ourselves to gossip about him, and thus, hadn't we already consented to disfiguring that person?

Our decisions and indecisions both bring about consequences that no one can avoid or deny. If these consequences are borne by ourselves, so be it. But what if they fall upon innocent persons, which is more often than not the case, like those HIV children?

What are we doing with our God-given freedom of choice? Our responsibility towards ourselves and our fellow human beings? Must we always be the consequent bearer of another's sins before we learn to consider those others who bear ours? Must we always learn life the hard way? Must we always live with regrets?

How are you using your freedom of choice from day to day?
How responsible have you decided to be? Or have you decided not to decide so as to mask indifference with ignorance?

30 November 2011, Tuesday

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The Net of Love

Dear God,

I have made many circles in life, trying to find a safe net to fall into.

I have tried falling into many nets and have grown weary and bitter from the painful falls they have left me with when all of them failed to hold me safe; always breaking apart and indifferently watching me fall right through.

I have learned to choose my nets with great caution and yet, even these had well-concealed holes and what paralysing falls they have given me.

I have finally come to know that the one single net that will never break apart and which will always hold me safe is the net of Your faithful love.

Into Your love, into Your loving hands,
May I fall entirely and eternally, to find the security and peace that my battered and deprived heart has been so thirsting for - the one everlasting Net that I call my Sanctuary.

16 November 2011, Wednesday

The Mighty Hand of God

God has set His Providence before my eyes.
He has left me staring blankly, awestruck, at His generosity.
He unveiled His great power and glory, 
and has captured me in disbelief of His marvellous deeds.
He has forgiven my doubtful heart,
and has affirmed me of His fidelity to His poor children.
He has shown to me the vast contrast of my myopic ideals
against His infinite possibilities.
He has revealed just how little I know about the infinity of His love for His people. 

He has thus shut my humanness and debunked my every possible excuse
for henceforth,
never again can I say that I have not seen the greatness of my God;
never again can I withhold from Him my trust;
never again can I question and doubt His love and fidelity;
never again can I feel small and insignificant in His great plans for me;
never again can I put a limit to the results of any work done in His Name.

Praise to our God, for all eternity!

16 November 2011, Wednesday

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

My World, THE World

What do we really mean when we say that we live in this world, this planet called Earth?

In reality, we do live in this world. But yet, many of us live in a much smaller, narrower reality that does not quite recognise - at least not on a regular basis -that we truly live on a planet called Earth. For instance, I live in an area sandwiched between Bishan and Thomson. Everyday, I travel down the road to work and back. On days, I travel westward to Church and then back. My "world" seems to be defined within the boundaries of my tiny geographical movements within a small part of this little island called Singapore, which can hardly be spotted with the naked eye on the world map. I have been to neighbouring countries like the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia and then not so neighbouring countries like Amsterdam's airport on transit, St. Petersburg and parts of Italy. But when I'm back in Singapore, my world becomes reduced to the routine north and west of the island, stretching on rare occasions to the east and south. And even though Singapore has since been recognised to be not as insignificant and unknown as just a puny red dot on the map - it ranks as one of the top in the world in income inequality - does it really mean that I truly "live in the world"?

If I were to live with my parents and sister under the same roof, would I not at some point in time think about them or consider their needs despite how inconsiderate and self-centred I may be most of the time? If I were to live on a level above my neighbour, would I not consider what an irritant I am to them when I start dribbling my basketball around the house? If I were to walk along the pavement out of my house, could I blame a bird for not aiming his poo elsewhere than on my head when he is taking his break on the tree I walk under? I probably can hurl a few remarks at him but yet, what he does and does not do are inseparable from me because he and the tree and the pavement belong to the confines of "my world", and so does my family, neighbours, friends, colleagues, and even strangers along the way.

But, the world is far larger than what my lifestyle defines it to be. And I really do not, on normal circumstances, think very much of what lies beyond "my world". This video excellently strings together all our tiny "worlds" to show us very explicitly that there is a far wider, larger reality of what "THE world", of what "This IS OUR world" looks like.

And yet, I do not really think about this world I live in, which exists in the vast exterior of "my world". Because if I did, I would be thinking about it very often, like I do to my family, my neighbours, my colleagues and friends I meet in "my world". If I did, I would have my lifestyle reflecting my care and concern as how I would be considerate towards my neighbours. If I really do live in this world, on this planet called Earth; if I am a citizen of Earth, and Earth is my home, would I still be contributing to its destruction by my lifestyle? Do I not live in a much smaller reality of "my world" when I forget or blatantly ignore how my lifestyle is disfiguring the beauty of LIFE in my "larger world"? How myopically I see my life, my world, my planet.

When God created our world, He saw that it was good. He gave us all we need for survival in His creation of the earth. In turn, we are to be masters of the creatures in the sea and on dry land. And what abusive masters we have been to the earth that continues to give and give to us till it hurts, and yet, is still giving. Just as I cannot walk under a bird and not run any risk at all of having it poo on me; just as I cannot defy nature by skydiving without my parachute and insist on landing as I wish in one unbroken piece, I cannot deny my natural existence in a larger world even though it is convenient not to admit this relationship between me and Earth that knights me with the fundamental and inescapable responsibility that every human person must live up to as masters, protectors and carers of Earth.

What are we doing to God's creation of our planet and also, of ourselves?
While Father Ignatius Bindu Hembrom plants 3000 trees a month for his world, how are we going to affect our tiny "my worlds" while keeping in mind the larger world we truly belong to?

Tuesday 8 November 2011