Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year, New Life

Published in The Fiji Times, 30th December, 2009

The week between the Christmas and New Year's holidays often seem like a holiday in itself, even if you have not taken leave during this period. There are only three working days between December 25, 2009 and January 1, 2010.

For some these days are lost in a haze of continuing (or bridging) celebrations, recovery periods (including "sick-leave") and work where many of us just go through the motions between 8am and 4.30pm (or 9 to 5), passing the time between extended morning and afternoon teas, lunches and "knock-off time," which marks the start of the next evening's frivolities, fara, talanoa and sigi drigi sessions.

Given the above scenarios, it could be assumed that the majority of readers may miss the significance of this transitional period.
We stand at the threshold of the last year of the first decade of the twenty-first century. As the vast majority of humanity peers into the glass darkly to behold their visions or dreams of the future we are given many awesome images of what may lie ahead in the second decade of the third millennium of western (or northern) civilisation.

Doom-dealers tout cataclysmic events for 2012 in terms of the planet, while, given that western/ northern civilisation itself is in great decline, it looks more likely that the disasters and upheavals of the very near future are going to be economic, social and political on a global scale.
Established power structures that have been oppressing humanity for millennia through economic, social and ideological control and have refused to heed the winds of change may very well find themselves outsiders of the very "global village" that they created.

But to these oppressive structures are also tied prejudice, violence, greed, intolerance, suspicion and exploitation which are rooted in fear, which itself is the absence (or lack) of love. These fear-based social behaviours (for they are not a natural instinct of humanity) will also face upheaval, as the "mountains are made plain and the low places raised up."(Isaiah 40:4).

So it is important that as we prepare to enter into the "unknown" we should all take a moment from being very busy doing nothing and as a collective consciousness, a people, a nation, release the negativity that we have encountered and focus on positive intentions for the year we are about to begin. This means that our focus must be centred, our intentions unified and we must realised that a house divided cannot stand. To understand this we do not have to turn to philosophy or politics but simply look at the natural law evident in creation, of which we are a part. There is no such thing as independence in nature - all living things exist in a symbiotic relationship.

This means that if we wish to look out for ourselves, we must also look out for others. Our New Year's resolutions must not merely focus on the self but on the other.
It is not enough to commit to stewardship of our personal and family finances, we must also commit to the effective stewardship of the natural resources around us, which we depend on. Our plans for the future must take into account that we exist and identify ourselves in relation to everything around us.

This means we are called to not only take care of our individual needs, but also to examine our "wants" in terms of the needs of the whole community, the country and the planet.
To do this we have to dispel the fear that envelopes us and causes us to be greedy, intolerant, oppressive, violent and suspicious and instead embrace the unconditional love which unites us.
We begin to do this when we realise that each one of us, regardless of our social or economic status, our religion or ethnicity, is born naked and in need of warmth, food and shelter. Each one of us has the capacity to receive and transmit love.

Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality."

The other day, I heard a song by Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye which had the following lyrics: "You are everything and everything is you."

We may be of different religions and ideologies, different ethnicities and different cultures, but we have one heart.

Whoever we are, our hearts beat with the same rhythm.

As we enter 2010 let us remember that each one of us lives with the same rhythm.

In 2010 let us each listen to that rhythm and follow it. In doing so, we will all be moving to one rhythm; we will be one people; one country, one planet.

Only then can we release the negativity that is holding us back and share in the positivity that propels us forward.

May 2010 be blessed with simplicity, serenity and spontaneity.

* This article is the opinion of Reverend James Bhagwan and does not necessarily represent the views of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma, any other organisation or institution Padre Bhagwan is affiliated with or this newspaper.
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