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The Unbearable Heaviness of Being

My quest for the eternal lightness

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As America’s aura in asserting liberal democracy is decimated across the globe, the world looks now to China for her intervention to stop the atrocities of the military regime in Burma. America has her own ghost of Christmas past. Middle East is a failure, with Iraq, a disaster, while the Talibans are still on her tail with no end to terror. I agree that there are no easy solutions to Bush’s nightmare. Washington’s only weapon comes in the form of economic sanctions which appears lame and unable to yield the junta’s subordination.

China’s ‘authoritarian capitalism’ is seen to exercise a more diplomatic approach towards Rangoon, not withstanding her US$2 bn of military support (over the last 20 years) to Than Shwe’s regime in return for 20 years of Burma’s natural gas supply at 40% below market value. How does China herself deal with dissentions within is an extremely important question to ask. Whether China acts without her hegemonic agenda is subject to serious debate.  

Back home, my thoughts and conversations converge on the increasing need for a more healthy and active Christian participation in the quest for social justice and liberty; amidst the current underlying fear that the country continues to seemingly slide down the slippery slope of totalitarianism. There musn’t be merely a dishing out of correct theology and doctrines from the pulpits but a clear embodiment of the spirit of the gospel and a call for action in the public sphere. I think there is an urgent need to quash the sense of indifference within the thick walls of our symbolic and consumeristic spirituality, and to free our generation to respond, to choose and to live out a wider spectrum of the expression of Christian faith.

While it is certainly imperative for the shaping of a Christian philosophy for the common good, aptly explored in Dr Ng Kam Weng’s post here, I see a need for a sincere engagement; not just in Christian involvement in social actions (which are extremely important) but at the same time a sincere reframing of our Christian apologetics. Our commitment to the common good can be totally questionable when we approach the ‘common’ with our citadel of unquestionable truths while casting other approaches to mere speculative interpretations. Our sincere conversation with postmodernism, which appeals to a consideration of the ‘silenced’ voices, involves our willingness to listen (and seriously listening) to the ‘other’ voices of interpretation of truth alongside with our own interpretation of the same. That the canonization of our own scripture is in itself a ‘silencing’ of other voices/texts within the Christian literature, not to mention of those outside. This is indeed crucial to make space for a common good.

The Burmese monks show us a crucial role for an honest religious conviction embodied in the here and now. Yes, we pray for their agony now. But beyond that, how willing are we in allowing their interpretation of faith; in the face of political and economic hegemony, in the face of yet again an effort of silencing dissenting voices, to question our own?

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