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The Unbearable Heaviness of Being

My quest for the eternal lightness

Category Archives: thoughts

 

Blow away dandelion. Blow away. These thoughts. If this is what they mean. A rustic oracle to be abandoned to the wind.

 
L (No, not the L from Japanese anime Death Note) was taken aback when I told her that I secretly crave for failure. It stems from the deep suspicion I have for ‘something higher’. Failure, that which is so terrifying, so real. I told L, that I often wonder (I am even lured to it sometimes) about that which is found in the debris when the tower of success is brought down.

Have we become achievement whores that we are willing to prostitute every memory to our lust for a unified, triumphant tale?  And how we have defended our pleasure against the ‘voices’ of ’emptiness’ which tempt us to leave the bosoms that we rest in.

I find comfort in St Augustine’s confession (from reading THIS article) :

But many people who know me, and others who do not know me but have heard of me or read my books, wish to hear what I am now, at this moment, and yet it is in my heart that I am whatever I am. So they wish to listen as I confess what I am in my heart, into which they cannot pry by eye or ear or mind. They wish to hear and they are ready to believe; but can they really know me?

sg1.jpgTravelling on Nicoll Highway at near sun-down, I turned to my friend and thanked him for the ride. Exhausted, I retreated into silence. I’m supposed to be having some good time, afterall I’m on holiday. A breakaway from so much of silly and shocking public statements I lament over back home. Yet, there I was, unwanting.

377A debate and the rewriting of pluralism (Insight: The Straits Times, October 27) I confess that it was ‘…the rewriting of pluralism’ that caught my interest. In any case, I found myself reading a response to Nominated Member of Parliament, Thio Li-Ann’s Two Tribes Go To (Culture) War. Admittedly, I am not just about ready to plunge into a debate on Penal Code 337A, but some of Thio’s trenchant rewriting of secularism and pluralism warrants some serious thoughts.

“As law has a moral basis, we need to consider which morality to legislate…religious views are part of our common morality. We separate religion from politics but not religion from public policy. That would be undemocratic. All citizens may propose views in public debate, whether influence by religious or secular convictions or both, only the government can impose a view by law.”

Thio wrote elsewhere: “Democratic pluralism welcomes every view in public discussion, but does not commit the intellectual fallacy of saying every view is right. The goal is to ascertain the right view for the circumstances”.

If this is true, when viewed in the context that the government being the sole authority to impose a view by law, the result can be worrisome. Is the government a non-religious entity by itself? The right view for the circumstances; who’s view?   

 hostages.jpg

Kabul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The latest ultimatum before the execution of 21 remaining South Korean hostages held by the Talibans expired at 7.30 GMT this morning. Tribal leaders who are trying to mediate have called for an additional 48 hours to avoid further bloodshed after the killing of two hostages. The terrorists have not yet responded.

I asked Justy and Lindy over frosty beer last night – how do you pray for this situation?  I painfully find it hard to only pass this over by handing it back to God. Sure, we all feel bad about this. I’ve been receiving text messages rallying Christians to pray for the captured Korean aid workers. I’m reading about the vigils held in Seoul. I am certainly troubled by it. I hope this bloodshed can be stopped immediately by some kind of miraculous intervention. (Perhaps, one can consider this a prayer). Then again, we could sign the petition for the release of these hostages (http://www.avaaz.org/en/honour_the_afghan_code/tf.php). Perhaps also, maybe a petition for the U.S. to release the Taliban prisoners, as demanded by these terrorists? That of course could be seen as a weak position and I could be condemned from many angles. Justy asked, if I would go to Afgan if he’s one of these hostages? We both agreed that that would not help either.

While we should continue to keep our hearts on this (fervently), I am also troubled by the bitter fact that our Christian solidarity has mostly been very tribal. Christian communities are mobilized when troubles hit their churches or when missionaries and christian leaders are under threats. Our mobile phones and e-mails are flooded with endless calls to pray and to stand together againts these evils. Sadly, I do not receive text messages to pray when christians are contributing to some of the evils in the world, or when it does not concern christians at large.

Why is it that our churches in Malaysia are not called so fervently and urgently to pray (and to hold vigils) when thousands perished in Iraq and thousands more innocent lives were at risk under the hands of the invading forces of U.S. and Britain? Aren’t these lives just as valuable to God? Yet, I personally hear renowned Christian leaders giving thanks to God for bringing down Saddam Hussein and his regime so that believers could openly worship in Iraq. Of course, the current ordeal in Afgan is a form of retaliation to this injustice – one which we could never fully settle the score on who the original culprit is, as the list would be endless – and every side have their version of the story.

Nearer home, where is this same voice that would cry out to God when injustice prevails? Where are the Christian e-mails and text messages when one is taken into custody without proper procedure? Perhaps they are not our children? Probably the situation is not as pressing, but our indifference now will allow problems to escalate. Why only throw the problem to God when situation runs out of control?

How can we start bridging this inconsistency? What are we telling our children in church? How are we connecting with these problems? What would be the content of our sunday school syllabus? Where are we taking our christian conversation with our youths? How can we listen to the voices from the other side? Until then, I find it hard to pray for this problem to just go away. I sincerely hope it would, though. But how sincere is sincere?

Found this interesting translation:

“In the beginning was the Conversation. The conversation was not only with God, the conversation was God. And nothing that has happened or will happen happens outside that conversation. Then in John’s own time, the conversation sounded in our flesh and not only did we hear it — we saw it! Saw it in all its splendor, new as it always will be in the womb of the Father.”

Justy called over the weekend. I was delighted. Afterall I was spending the afternoon watching Shrek (1&2) and Pirates of the Caribbean (1&2). 

Why I like Shrek: everything in it was, ‘hey! it’s not suppose to be like this!’ Of course, stories are wonderful when told in their ‘original’ forms. But stories that are ambiguous, contradictory and ironical and sometimes scandalous and troublesome do indeed have a way to speak to us.  

But I have also learnt that I don’t have to like, agree with, or defend the stories. I just need to let them speak. And they will tell me something I did not know before, tell me who I am and how I am to be with the others. To enter into conversations for stories to emerge. Story-tellings that  free me from being trapped inside myself and bring me home to God and to others.

I find myself hopelessly awakened to a selfish and self-deceving humanity. But can I step out of humanity and call it despicable? Am I not part of that which I despise?

 

Lunch was spent out with a good friend to celebrate her birthday. I’d call it ‘sacred’ moment of simplicity and calmness 😉

I’m encapsulated today in this quote by Thomas Merton (Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander):

To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is itself to succumb to the violence of our times. Frenzy destroys our inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.

I think I need to embrace a more meaningful perspective to my ‘connection’ with ‘otherness’.

I am deeply saddened by 3 things today.

It is a dark day for Malaysia and for human rights. She didn’t win. But I wonder who’s the biggest loser. How different would the ruling be if the tables are turned, I wonder?

I am not a parent. I probably suck at being one. But hoping to solve issues by decreeing instructions to a teenage child, and expecting someone else to do it for you!!!!???

Blog-reading can sometimes be depressing. I read, today, yet another friend’s journey: “A couple of months ago I left that place…I quit….and there never seemed to be any coming back as far as my journey is concerned”  How do you get people to listen?