Tag: love

Borrowing and lending: What Jesus tells us about lending money?

Moneylending is a serious issue since time immemorial. It is painful, to know how people are enslaved in numerous ways by moneylenders. Many times poor people spend their entire life or even generations to pay off their interests. Usurers extract land, labour, assets, farm produce etc in return. This money lending business is killing many poor people and enslaving many for life. Money lending with interests always worsens the plight of the poor.

When I come across such cases of exploitation, I always think what Jesus said about lending and borrowing. How God commanded Moses to tell His people to lend?

Mosaic Law tells, “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not be like a moneylender; charge him no interest” (Exodus 22:25). In Deuteronomy 23:19, it prohibits charging interest in any form such as food, money or anything else.   Mosaic Law tells us this, basically for two reasons, first: interest bearing loan would aggravate the difficulties of the poor and secondly: God promised a blessing on the gracious lender that would far surpass any interest he would make. Moreover, this law strongly encourages community living by proposing, every creditor must cancel their debts every seven years (Deuteronomy 15:1). However, the law does tell borrowers to work to return their debts (Psalm 37:21) but it does not encourage lenders to impose interest or forcefully collect the loan.

When the Mosaic Law of 3500 years tells not to lend with interest, what Jesus tells us about this? He says “do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42). He then tells us to lend freely without expecting a return. He goes one step further by telling even don’t expect any return from the needy. He not only tells us to give to our friends but also to enemies in need. He says, “But love your enemies and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great” (Luke 6:35). He strongly emphasizes to give freely, without interest and even in worse cases give without even expecting anything in return. Jesus tells “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38).

It encourages to give freely and promises a return of our gracious giving from God.  By giving He tells us, we will not become poor rather he tells us our ability to produce wealth comes from God (Deuteronomy 8:18) and it is God who sends both poverty and wealth; He humbles and He exalts” (1 Samuel 2:7).

When we live in a community we should live interdependently and equality and justice help us all live joyful and meaningful lives rather than living lavishly at the cost of others.  When we are connected to God vertically and to people horizontally in love, it sums up everything. As He blesses freely, it is expected we too bless others freely.

But how far have we gone in the other ways? I wonder where the increasing individualism would take us.

The Quiet World

The Quiet World
                             by Jeffrey McDaniel
In an effort to get people to look
into each other’s eyes more,
and also to appease the mutes,
the government has decided
to allot each person exactly one hundred
and sixty-seven words, per day.
When the phone rings, I put it to my ear
without saying hello. In the restaurant
I point at chicken noodle soup.
I am adjusting well to the new way.
Late at night, I call my long distance lover,
proudly say I only used fifty-nine today.
I saved the rest for you.
When she doesn’t respond,
I know she’s used up all her words,
so I slowly whisper I love you
thirty-two and a third times.
After that, we just sit on the line
and listen to each other breathe.
Photographs: Abinash Biswal

I am woman

I am a woman, stubborn and strong willed
But also a girl, longing to be held
My dad’s lil girl
But also a Manager
I talk a lot
But love the silence
I can’t read maps
But love to travel
I dread growing old
But love my freedom
My tears may flow freely
But my strength is hidden deeply
I may hate for a moment
But I love for a lifetime
I am may be a huge cliché

But am still rare and special.

Touched by an Angel – Maya Angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage

exiles from delight

live coiled in shells of loneliness

until love leaves its high holy temple

and comes into our sight

to liberate us into life.

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Love arrives

and in its train come ecstasies

old memories of pleasure

ancient histories of pain.

Yet if we are bold,

love strikes away the chains of fear

from our souls.

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We are weaned from our timidity

In the flush of love’s light

we dare be brave

And suddenly we see

that love costs all we are

and will ever be.

Yet it is only love

which sets us free.

By Maya Angelou

Industry! Industry! I cried

Industry! Industry! I cried

No one answered and no one helped.

 

Then I turned to God,

and asked, please give me the virtue of ‘industry’.

He answered, have I not given you already?

Then I looked at my life and found it nowhere,

and I turned to him again, but He said, I have given you all the strength, power, and energy to develop any virtue that you need.

I prayed, teach me how can I?

 

Then He asked, do you love me?

I replied what love has to do with this my Lord? But He repeated,

and I answered I love you ‘very much’.

That’s all you need, He affirmed.

 

He said, whatever you do, do it with all the love that you have for me,

and do it as you are working for me (col-3:23).

The love for me would guide you, the love for me will give you the strength.

That love will motivate you and it will give you the courage.

The love will give you the purpose and the inspiration.

That love will help you to deny yourself, and it will teach you to labour.

And the love would not only teach you to do what you love but also to love the work you are given.

If you love me, whatever you do, work with all the love in your heart for me.

This will give you rest and this will carry your burden…

 

Then I stopped a moment, thought for a while and smiled…

…and found myself working…with love…

Abinash

 

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A Thousand splendid suns – A Review

“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,

Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”

– Persian poet Saib-e-Tabrizi, 17th Century

51jkAgidvAL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The book ‘A Thousand splendid suns’ is another masterpiece of Khaled Hosseini. Some say it is better than ‘The kite Runner’ but I would say both are equally great and cannot be compared.

‘A thousand splendid suns’ describes lives during the cold war and post-cold war, specifically how the intrusion of Taliban had affected lives in Afghanistan. It covers lives during three decades of war in Afghanistan.

The writing is so deep & real that it can give readers an opportunity to experience Afghanistan of that time. There is pain, remorse, fear, hostility, betrayal, joy, love, sacrifice, courage and some more beautiful emotions that can make you cry and admire as well.

I won’t give you an overview of the story but can tell you that ‘A thousand splendid suns’ describes the lives of two women from their childhood to adulthood forced to live almost without any rights. In the midst of suffering they have proved that life is worth living and showed in the midst of hatred, love never abandons anyone. They shone through the dark clouds of hatred because they were the ‘thousand splendid suns’. Like ‘The kite runner’, once again the writer has illustrated pure friendship and ultimate sacrifices.

Khaled Hosseini has described the two wonderful women as “splendid suns”. Women’s strength and their significance in a society have been described skilfully through this brilliant art. It will make you believe that Women are one of God’s most wonderful creations. It has touched my soul and will touch yours.

The story telling ability of Khaled Hosseini is simply remarkable. The way he has portrayed characters and incidents will keep you occupied.

It is a masterpiece and a must read…Before reading these two books I had never thought that I would want to visit Afghanistan in my life.

God Bless…

Dialogue and its 5 fundamentals for true education and transformation

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The Author

I am at my home during this holidays and reading Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”. It’s an amazing insightful book, which everyone who works for transformation of the world must read. What I am getting from the book is brilliant and I would also like to share few thoughts from a chapter with you all. I do not want to paraphrase it or change it but I want to put it as it is written by the Author.

I dedicate this post to all my friends who have been falsely accused and charged for raising their voice for what they believed and for asking for a dialogue. I just want to tell them that they were right because their intention was to dialogue for betterment of situation and their means were harmless and kind. So the consequences was not because of them but due to the absence of the “sense of dialogue” in the other party. I just want to say, stay strong, stay hopeful and be good…and pray for the people so that they may understand…

Everything written below is not mine but purely from Paulo Freire’s book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”. All the credit is to the author of the book.

Human existence cannot be silent, nor can it be nourished by false words, but only by true words, with which men and women transform the world.

Human beings are not built in silence, but in word, in work, in action-reflection.

Dialogue is the encounter between people, mediated by the world, in order to name the world. Hence, dialogue cannot occur between those who want to name the world and those who do not wish this naming – between those who deny others the right to speak their word and those whose right to speak has been denied them. Those who have been denied their primordial right to speak their word must first reclaim this right and prevent the continuation of this dehumanizing aggression.

He says dialogue will not be possible in the absence of 5 things, namely: Love, humility, faith, hope and critical thinking.

  1. Dialogue cannot exist, however, in the absence of a profound love for the world and for the people. The naming of the world, which is an act of creation and re creation, is not possible if it is not infused with love. Love is at the same time the foundation of dialogue and dialogue itself. It is thus necessarily the task of responsible Subjects and cannot be exist is a relation of domination. Because love is an act of courage, not of fear, love is commitment to others. If I do not love the world, if I do not love life and people, I cannot enter into dialogue.
  2. Dialogue cannot exist without humility. Transformation of the world cannot be an act of arrogance. Dialogue, as the encounter of those addressed to the common task of learning and acting, is broken if the parties lack humility.

How can I dialogue if I always project ignorance onto others and never perceive my own?

How can I dialogue if I regard myself as a case apart from others – mere “its” in whom I cannot recognize other “I”s?

How can I dialogue if I consider myself a member of the in-group of “pure” men, the owner of truth and knowledge, for whom all non-members are “these people” or “the great unwashed”?

How can I dialogue if I am closed to – and even offended by – the contribution of others?

How can I dialogue if I am afraid of being displaced, the mere possibility causing me torment and weakness?

Self-sufficiency is incompatible with dialogue. Men and women who lack humility or have lost it, cannot come to the people, cannot be their partners in transforming the world.

  1. Dialogue further requires an intense faith in humankind, faith in their power to make and remake, to create and recreate, faith in their vocation to be more fully human. Faith in people is a prior requirement for dialogue. Without faith in people, dialogue is a farce which inevitably degenerates into paternalistic manipulation.
  2. Nor can dialogue exist without hope; Hope is rooted in people’s incompletion, from which they move out in constant search – a search which can be carried out only in communion with others. Hopelessness is a form of silence, of denying the world and fleeing from it….
  3. Finally, true dialogue cannot exist unless the dialoguers engage in critical thinking – thinking which discerns an indivisible solidarity between the world and the people and admits of no dichotomy between them. Critical thinking contrasts with naïve thinking, which sees “historical time as a weight, a stratification of the acquisitions and experiences of the past, from which the present should emerge normalized and “well-behaved”. Only dialogue, which requires critical thinking, is also capable of generating critical thinking.

Without dialogue there is no communication and without communication there can be no true education.

Trust is established by dialogue. False love, false humility and feeble faith in others cannot create trust.

To say one thing and do another – to take one’s own word lightly – cannot inspire trust. To glorify democracy and to silence the people is a farce: to discourse on humanism and to negate people is a lie.

Thank You

God bless….

Never for Granted….

In a recent prayer in our department, we were reflecting at the last year and all that we are thankful for. As I look back, I am of course thankful for a lot of things but the one thing I am most thankful for is a significant part of me that I often take for granted, My family.

I am very blessed to have an amazing family and being the younger child has its share of advantages.  My family has been my biggest strength throughout my life. I knew I had a good family but I am not sure I have taken enough time to thank God for them.

This post is dedicated to my family my dad & mom, Victor & Daisy my elder brother & sister- in- law John & Amy and my best friend Abinash and I hope to show the world a glimpse of the amazing family God has given me.

A small family you have given me

But with the biggest hearts

They always go out of their way

Whether it’s night or day

Their love is unconditional

Definitely not situational

 

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I have my dad and we are inseparable

Proud of every little thing I do

And is someone I always turn to.

 

My mom is a dearie,

Love, sacrifice and worry

Keep her merry.

 

 

My brotherIMG_4722

None like another

Always together

I hope we’ll be

We have jokes that no one interprets

We have experiences that no one understands

Always was, always will be, my hero.

 

My Sister-in-law or the sister I never had

Girl talk, gang up or just silly giggles

She’s to be counted on

Stronger and Smarter

Completes my brother

 

 

And finally my best friend

Who plays all the above roles,Photo1849

When my family is away

And is yet unique and a gift.

Strong yet caring

Smart but learning

Teaching but always growing

Loves to talk but stops to listen

To all my gibberish

Always goes the extra mile

Just to bring back my smile.

 

This is my family and I am thankful for each member and for the role that they have played in my life. I am what I am because of them. I thank God and I pray that I will be able to be to them a part of what they are to me.

As you are reading, I would encourage you to take time to appreciate your family, thank God for them and never take them for granted… If your family has not been there for you, make an attempt to be a family for somebody else, you will be blessed.

Happy Reading and God Bless.

Social Transformation is possible!!!

There has been a continuous effort by development workers and government to find the best model for social transformation. So many experiments and so many models have been implemented but the success is yet at a very far distance. Lots of money has been spent on development both in rural and urban in our country but there has not been any remarkable transformation experienced which can be taken as ‘The Model’.

Why is this? What is the reason? Why isn’t there any tangible change? Is not it the time for us to think rather than trying the same methods and wasting time? What is that missing or what is that which is hindering the transformation process in our communities?

The community I am working with is a very poor community. Hundreds of NGOs and government organizations have been working for development and thousands of projects have been implemented. Our own organization has been working since many years and has implemented almost ten projects. There is some changes visible but that is not the change we are looking for. It is not a holistic change in our communities. The complexity of problem is so much that sometime I lose hope that nothing is going to happen. I am sometimes scared to hope to have hope for transformation. If I can’t hope anything then I am wasting my time here and I am working in vain. Am I just working for my livelihood? If it is so then this is the most heinous thing I am doing, I am selling poverty; I am selling suffering for my living. It is really a time for me to think what am I doing? Is there any hope that my hard work would pay off somewhere or I am just spending my days out here? Is this GOD wants us to do or He does have some other plan? Is God telling us to do the same things we have been doing or do we not understand His purpose? Are we missing out His way of doing? I don’t know but I don’t see any hope in the way we are doing stuff. It doesn’t make sense to me anymore. If you are working in a similar community or you have experienced you may understand what I mean.

But every problem has a solution. There is always a way out. We should find out the thing which is missing in the communities we are working with. What is that one thing which can be the factor for transformation, the complete transformation of people and society? Why do we do things what we do? What makes people in the community do things the way they do? What makes them think the way they think? I think it is the values that are existing in the community. Is it “value” that is missing, the value system in the society? What does it have to do with transformation?

Value is something which is the fuel for living. It makes society function the way it functions. It is natural but where have we lost it? If we see some examples of nature we may understand. As the proverb says – “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider its ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest”. – Pro-6:6-8. Ants have no commander, no chief yet they work hard and with discipline. Nobody watches them or monitors them yet they work with honesty. The value that they have which makes them work systematically without any leader. Everybody understands their role and responsibility. They are that’s why called wise. But in our case, even after having chief and supervisors we don’t do our part.

If we look at the life of a honey bee we have lot more things to learn from. –They work diligently. They do all the things to complete the tasks they have accepted to do. They work in team by sharing the responsibility. One group of bees collects nectar from flowers and brings to the hive and passes the nectar to other workers who chew the nectar to make it more digestible. Another group spread the chewed substances around the honeycomb. Another group fans the substance to dry. The group visits around 2, 25,000 flowers a day just to get 30 grams of honey and they flew approximately 1600 round trips a day. (Cultivating Character, Character Solution International)

Wow! What a creature. They show diligence, hard work and teamwork, sharing and caring for their community without a leader telling them to do so. Nobody monitors them but everybody does their task well. This is the value and the character that honey bees teach us. This is the importance of values in society. If we have values as human beings, the society will function automatically in a way it is supposed to. If we have good values and characters then we will live to the fullest.

That’s why I believe if the value system changes there will be transformation in every segment. If people cultivate values in life, there would be change in situation, change in people’s condition, and change in life…change in attitude… If everybody understand their responsibility and have values, there would be completeness, harmony, stewardship and peace in lives and society. Life would be beautiful.

How would the value system change? I don’t see it possible; it is again too difficult for me to have hope. There are wrong things which have been practiced for so long that it has become a regular practice and people no more consider it wrong. Let me give you an example from my experience (Another experience I had already posted before)-there was a group who came to us for help to run the PDS scheme in village. They had gone through some procedures and in some procedures they thought we could help them in getting that. When they came to us, our Project Manager took some time to discuss with them about their families. They were from poor families. Then we wanted to know if they run the scheme how they would earn livelihood.  Then they explained to us about the scheme. And it was such a thing we had never expected. They told 30 KG of rice comes for each family from government and from which they would give them 28 KG and keep 2 KG each and sell them in market to get their profit. Same is with oil and dal too. When asked if it is right to do so, they said it has been a practice in every village and there is nothing wrong in this. They would take another person’s share and still they are not able to understand that something is wrong in this. It is not their fault but the way it has been happening. A long practice has become the system and it is no more wrong. We don’t have a value system which would tell us that it is wrong. There are so many things happening in our communities just like this.

That’s why I believe, if the value system changes, there will be hard work, truth, there would be no corruption, there would be mutual respect and respect for human being… kindness, love for human being and nature….etc.. No lie, no hurt…there would be trust…

If people would have values in life, external condition would also change …no doubt in that…but how? Can a blind person show the way to another blind person? S/He needs a person who can see to guide him/her. Even though there are people who can guide the society the society is not changing. If somebody has to be healed he/she has to accept that there is sickness in him/her. People in our community should know that there is something wrong. Unless they don’t understand that how would they go for change? If somebody tells the person that he has a problem without the person realizes it, it would make the person more arrogant rather than the room for change. That’s what we have been doing. We are trying to tell them that their condition is bad and they need transformation. Even in a participatory way we are trying to tell them it has still been a failure. They have not internalized that there is a problem. They have not seen a better model than theirs. They have seen the difference physically but not the internal factors behind any change. Then who can tell them the internal factors? If it is you and me, then how? By telling them that there is a problem or telling the solution it is not going to work. Because people don’t learn the best by listening or seeing but they learn when they do it. In order to make them do we need to show them how it is done. We need to practice the thing that we want them to practice. We need to practice value that we want to see them practicing. When we live with them and practice good values, there is a change in value system in our circle and then it will pass on to a larger society. We need to show them by doing the things we want them to do. That is called the incarnation model.

The incarnation model is the answer… (Mr. George Kutty, our Project Manger helped me to understand this model) This is the model that Jesus showed us…He did not just preach us to love your neighbor, truth, forgiveness etc but he became 100% human and manifested these as a human being…He practiced what He said…He changed the world with the message of love, kindness and forgiveness and nonresistant to evil by force… He made tremendous influence in people’s life by showing how to do not by preaching. He just didn’t tell us to forgive but He forgave from the midst of highest suffering, from the cross he forgave His oppressors.

So we can do this by following the same model….by doing what we want to see…behaving the way we want others to behave to us. Practice those values in our lives. Showing how to live would teach others about living rather than just preaching… If we only preach, it would make people more resistant towards good values and characters rather than cultivating them.

Somebody has rightly said: “Preach the gospel always but when necessary use word”…Preach the gospel by your action….

I strongly believe “The incarnation Model” would bring change…if we practice those values in life, people around us will practice those values. when people around us practice those values, the surrounding would have the same value, then it would spread…And there would be change in value system…Once there would be change in value system, there will be change in the condition of human life and nature…the transformation would take place. In every souls and then in everywhere… there would be full of life…Our prayer would become true…”His kingdom come”. The Kingdom of God is not an external thing but it is within all of us. “The kingdom of God does not come with outward show, neither will people say, ‘Here it is, there it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you”. Luke-17:20-21. Therefore there should be transformation from within then the transformation in external world would take place without even human intervention.

I may sound idealistic but I am not. It is my belief  that if we practice, we will bring transformation…we are the workers of The Master who has sent us to do this…so let’s stop just preaching but practice, may it be in larger development field or in personal life…It is not easy way ahead…but it is possible…

Truly, The Incarnation Model will work and this will bring social transformation.

This is my hope… I believe this and if you believe that this would work, practice!!! If you don’t, share your thoughts….

Thank You

God Bless…..

Actions Speak Louder Than Words: A Humbling Experience

It was one of our usual field visits, only a new village. But the reason for the post is quite different as it’s not the usual experience. It’s one of those instances which give you mixed feelings, heart warming yet cruelly disturbing.

Hope you feel mixed emotions too as you read on.

I was on a field visit to Nawagarh, one of villages with our physiotherapist. We were looking to meet children with disabilities, especially those with whom we could work toward some physical rehabilitation. These visits are especially painful as we get to see children with impairments that could have been prevented, disabilities that have been caused by lack of basic services or means and families undergoing lifelong suffering due to ignorance and proper guidance.

Today was no different, meeting hopeful families just to tell them that there is no cure or just encourage them to keep looking after their children. One of our visits was to Tamana Khatun, a 10 year old girl with severe Cerebral palsy affecting both her cognition and her movement.

Like every other visit, a group of women, children had gathered to watch us speak to the family and meet Tamana. When asked for her family an elderly man explained the situation of the child, emotionless as though he had read the facts of a medical chart.   I formed my own opinion of him as the father in law, the head of the household who hardly cared about a girl with Cerebral Palsy. His following comments confirmed my opinions about him (So I thought!!!). He blatantly announced that the family hadn’t paid attention to the child since she was a girl and it would be pointless spending money on something which would provide no return.

I was a little shocked that he spoke so openly, as people try to pretend to care in front of outsiders. We then asked to speak to her mother and the mother was not to be found among all the women spectators. She came through after a while of searching, a small frail lady in her early twenties. Although she answered our queries about her child’s condition, she didn’t seem to grasp the reality of the situation and the therapy plans for her daughter. It was only the old man who kept responding.

I was annoyed at the irony of the situation, a mother who cared but couldn’t fully comprehend the therapy plan and an old man who was able to understand but didn’t care. As we turned to leave, I stopped to privately ask the mother, how many other children she had and if they could help out in therapy. She said Tamana was her only daughter, that came as a surprise- ONLY DAUGHTER, Something didn’t seem right, so I enquired about her husband, only to find out that he had deserted her after their daughter was born. I just had to ask the next question, whose house was this? And who was that old man? Her answer humbled me, this was her father’s house and that old man was her father.

The man who said he didn’t care and didn’t want to spend on a girl was in reality taking care of two girls, his daughter deserted by her husband and his granddaughter who has cerebral palsy. His actions spoke way louder than his words. His words were from a deep rooted culture but his actions from a deep rooted love.

As we were driving back, various thoughts flooded my head ranging from embarrassment and guilt at assuming the worst of someone to knowing that humanity still had a chance as long as there was love and that no matter who we are, it’s our actions that speak louder than our words.

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Thank You