Tag: poor

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.

Do Public Opinions and Outrages also discriminate the poor?

In the recent news, there has been a lot of frenzy regarding the torture and killing of a monkey by 4 medical students in Christian Medical College. It was heartbreaking to see this as it is an example of cruelty by very young people who are in fact committed to help other people. This is not an isolated incident, there was another report of 2 medical students who tortured and injured a puppy as well. The perpetrators or the cruelty is not the only similarity, in both the incidents, there was a huge public uproar on social media and action was taken immediately which is remarkable.

These reactions and actions prove how strong public opinion can be and if people make enough noise, the action is taken. While in these instances, the action was taken and justice was served (as some call it), there are countless incidents which are equally ignored, almost all of which include human lives. Either the public opinions and reactions are not strong enough or limited or does not follow through till justice is served.

In the last decade, more than ever people have raised their voices against injustice which has definitely led to action but most of this is limited to metros and cities. What is about animals that stir up these feelings in people? Is it because they are endangered (as was the monkey)? Is it because they are viewed as defenseless? Is it because they can’t raise voices for themselves?

We hear about numerous deaths of children every day especially in the area I work in or in similar tribal belts. Most of the deaths due to preventable causes like TB, Malaria, malnutrition, lack of basic medical facilities Just yesterday, we lost a child to Malaria, in our project area and , more than 100 children have died due to encephalitis in two months in Malkangiri, another tribal area in Odisha.

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http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2016/nov/18/encephalopathy-besides-je-killed-malkangiri-children-1540163.html

What about these children? Do these incidents happen so often that we have become immune? Or are they not endangered enough for people to care?

Each child/ human is an endangered species as they are unique individuals, one of a kind person and each death means that an endangered species is lost. Obviously, these situations cannot be solved with just the public opinion, it requires people who are willing to take risks, the government that pays attention and a lot of other factors; but public opinion and raising voices for them is a start so that there is awareness regarding the magnitude of need that is there.

We often hear, don’t treat people like animals but maybe if we paid the same attention, some change might even be possible.

I believe every life is important whether its human or animal but just because something happens so regularly, we shouldn’t become immune to it. If public opinion and response can bring justice for animals then more so for children who are helpless, don’t have a voice and are endangered.

Are they not worthy of our opinions or outrage or our time???

Every year. Everywhere. Everyone

Hi, this is World Environment Day 2014!!!

What are you thinking??? Yeah I am talking to you all…. It’s June 5th…. What are you going to do tomorrow on Environment Day??  What have you planned??? I am sure all of you must have planned something!!!

Raise your voice, Not the sea level– yes! This is the theme of 2014…. It’s about global warming this time…..

This is global day for action for the environment…. Have you planned something??? If you have, that’s great….but if you have not planned, no problem…there is time, you have one day, you can do something now…. Just do anything you can… may it be in your home, community, village, city, school, university, office anywhere…wherever you are…you can do something…. take action no matter how small it may be…. Anything you can do…..You can at least talk about it to ten people.

UNEP suggests every action counts, whether it is to organize clean-up campaigns, walk-to-work days, plastic purges, art exhibits, tree-planting drives, concerts, dance recitals, switching off the lights, recycling drives, social media campaigns and different contests — every action counts. Friends that’s why I am saying just do anything, even a small thing….

This year we are celebrating to stop global warming…..stop sea level rise and save small islands nations…

Message of United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon – “This year, I urge everyone to think about the plight of Small Island Developing States and to take inspiration from their efforts to address climate change, strengthen resilience and work for a sustainable future. Raise your voice, not the sea level. Planet Earth is our shared island. Let us join forces to protect it”.

I don’t have to explain about global warming…. We all know the causes of global warming and its impact very well….it is no more a strange word, it’s a global issue now.…. And you know very well how to stop or fight Global Warming….. So stop looking at others…. it’s time for you to act….. Do it Today or never….

We all know its impact on poor and marginalized….. Even though they hardly contribute to global warming, they are the ones, most exposed to its impact…..this is injustice!! Any kind of natural calamity strikes them the most…. Therefore, act for a resilient community and sustainable future….. Stop this injustice against the poor and future generations…Take Action… It’s up to you……

Start it now….from this Environment day…..Everyone, everywhere, everyday…..

Thank you

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God bless you

Abinash

 

Be aware of Power…..

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Be aware of power that the power corrupts; you are there to serve the villages and the poor, said Mahatma Gandhi when asked whether he has any advice for the new government after independence. He was in Calcutta trying to restore peace between Hindus and Muslims when every other leader was in New Delhi celebrating the great achievement after long struggle. We got freedom from British but we had much more problem within our country and among ourselves. How could we claim to be free when many other social issues have confined our mind, body and soul? When there is poverty, communal violence everywhere, exploitation, violence against men, women and children, disease, injustice, discrimination on the basis of caste system etc, how could somebody like Mahatma Gandhi celebrate? He didn’t dream just the freedom from British but a complete India, a prosperous India where the last person in the village corner prospered.

Prosperity is not just the kind of development we hear every day. It is the well-being of nation and its people and everybody else in the whole world. I think well-being should include health, education, safety and social security, personal freedom, opportunity, good governance, sustainable economy, good social relationships, respect and dignity, food and water security, better environment etc. There are many things to be considered when we talk about well-being or prosperity than just the economic development. This is the reason that I interpret Mahatma Gandhi not celebrating our freedom from British rule.

Today we have a sort of similar situation. A new government has been elected for 5 years. Many are celebrating, some are sad, some are hopeful, some are saying good days are coming, some are debating, some are just waiting to see what’s next. But I see one man who is not celebrating it the way other are doing, who is slow in speech after the victory, that’s Mr. Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister -elect himself. Why is that the person who was talking the most during the campaign is talking the least now? Is he busy with his thoughts? He is not celebrating the ultimate power that county has given him. I think he is not overwhelmed by the power but by the responsibility that country has put on him. There are many things can be derived from his speech at the Central Hall of Parliament. He is not celebrating as much as his other party members. I think, he has taken the election victory as a huge responsibility to be carried out than just to be celebrating for the powerful position that the people of our country has given him. After the election result, I can see another side of Mr. Modi. He is speaking a different language than before.  “We are here in the temple of democracy. We will work with all purity… not for the designation but for the people of the country. Work and responsibility are the biggest things.” “Government’s motto will be with everyone and for everyone’s development” said Narendra Modi. I think Mr. Modi realizes what Mahatma Gandhi said about power. If he does then definitely we will have good governance and we can be hopeful that better days are coming.

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Now, lots of debates are going on in every corner of the country, the debate is on what issue is more important and what issue the new government should undertake first? Nobody knows what is going to come and how much change this government can bring but we can hope for the best. As long as the development process is inclusive and sustainable, Security and human rights have been given priority and our parliament is filled with the discussion about the uplifting and empowering the last person and community, we are in the right direction.

Coming back to what Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be aware of power that power corrupts”. Yes it does. We witness this in both small and bigger setup everyday. Power manipulates and corrupts. It diverts the attention of many leaders from the ultimate vision and responsibility ahead of them. Therefore I believe,  Mahatma Gandhi’s advice is still the best advice for any government in this time.

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Thank You

God Bless you and our Country

Abinash

Who is the master of his/her own destiny???

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Man is a social animal. Men and women can’t live to their fullest without society. People who live as part of society have always better life than people who live in isolation. The person who roams around without having anything, a person who begs in the street and doesn’t have a home and a family and are not part of a society, don’t enjoy life the way people who have a family and society do.

Human beings without society have low quality of life which includes physical Health, psychological well being, social relationships and environment. Low quality of life hinders a person to even dream big. Without health which includes all these domains a person can’t be productive, creative, hard working and persistent which are so important to prosper in life in every way. So if you are successful today or you have achieved what you dreamt to achieve, it is because you had better social and environmental circumstances. It is to them who say they are self made and master of their own fate to think that without the society and all these privileges where would you be today.

Since childhood parents, siblings and other caretakers play a vital role in making you the person you are today. They play a major role in building your life, then come teachers and friends. All the socialization process helped build the person you are today. Even your thoughts, ideas, creativity and character were shaped by the process and made you the person available for many and for the wonderful work you are doing today. If you want to study in an institute or for a job, you need a recommendation letter. Sometimes to fulfill a little dream you need so many people. A small recommendation letter would stop your admission to an institute, today which has given you a strong foundation to your future. A small degree of change can make a great deviation from your aim at the end. Therefore, a small help can have a big impact in your life and can make a big difference. So it is to think now whether you are the master of your own destiny or so many people have made contributions to it. It is excellent to have self confidence and positive attitude about yourself and about your success, but it is noble to share credits with people who made your journey beautiful in reaching to your destiny.

Your life depends infinitely upon the family you were born into. Your birth itself determines your destiny. I was blessed to born in a family and in a society where there were better options, resources and opportunities to get proper education, exposure, nutrition and hygiene etc. If I was born in a place where there were no options, opportunities and resources, where would I be today? The behavior of People, who involve in anti social activities, can be attributed to the kind of community they grew up in and the kind of exposure they had in their valuable childhood. So we are what we are because of the opportunity that we had, not because of we built our life by ourselves alone. That is true that if one is successful s/he has utilized and worked upon the opportunity through hard work, practice and patience but it would not be possible if one would not have the opportunity and options. The concept ‘I am the master of my own destiny’ signifies that whoever is not successful it is because of their own fault and they are only responsible for their condition.

I work alongside a marginalized community, and have seen them, I have listened to them closely and observed and found, in every problem there is an external factor responsible than they themselves. I have seen many who work hard, even more than many of us but there living standard is much poorer than us. So I found they are poor because they have fewer options, lack of information and lack of resources.

Richard Stearns, the President of World Vision USA writes in his book ‘The Hole in our Gospel:

“What I have discovered in my travels to more than forty countries with World Vision is that almost all the poverty is fundamentally the result of a lack of options. It is not that the poor are lazier, less intelligent, or unwilling to make efforts to change their condition. Rather, it is that they are trapped by circumstances beyond their power to change. I have found that the poorer people are, the harder they work, usually. In fact, their daily labor is more strenuous than most of us could tolerate. It is their circumstances that conspire to prevent their hard work from bearing fruit”.

Yes, there are people in spite of tremendous opportunity have not done great because of their laziness, lack of zeal but there are millions who did not have the option and the opportunity. But whoever is successful today it is because of opportunities, their surroundings, and the socialization process and off course their hard work.

Former US president Bill Clinton once said: “During our lives we had all been presented with opportunities of one kind or another, and second, that we had worked hard to capitalize on those opportunities and that our hard work had paid off”. – The hole in our Gospel

The idea of ‘ I am the master of my own destiny’ is not possible with human beings because we are made in such a way that we need family and society to live with, only then we can be the person of our dream. First, we should be thankful to the GOD Almighty and then people around us, opportunities, options then we, our hard work that paid off. Therefore, we are a shareholder of our success and the master is GOD alone who put everything in the right place for us to be the person we are today.

Who is the master of his/her own destiny???       Not a single one….

This is not to discourage anyone but to help to be thankful in life and maintain right amount of confidence, and to keep one’s cup ready to be filled at anytime. May God take you to your dreams and may you have good success.…..

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Photo courtesy: Rachel Raj

God bless….

Abinash