Prof. Leena Jose T.*
‘Equal dignity of all’ is the title song of the new generation and the new world. There is no antagonism or inequality between boys and girls of the new generation. They consider one another as equals. Older generation finds it difficult to understand the youngsters’ sense of equal dignity.
Part 1: Accompanying the Young Minds in Traversing the World of Ideologies
Part 2: Many a Paradigm Shift
Part 3: Equal Dignity: the Title Song of the New World
Part 4: We Want to Accompany Your Joys
God shows no partiality, since all people have the same dignity as creatures made in the same fundamental image and likeness. “Woman is the complement of man, as man is the complement of woman: man and woman complete each other mutually, not only from a physical and psychological point of view, but also ontologically. It is only because of the duality of “male” and “female” that the “human” being becomes a full reality. It is the “unity of the two”, or in other words a relational “uni-duality”, that allows each person to experience the interpersonal and reciprocal relationship as a gift that at the same time is a mission. To this ‘unity of the two’, God has entrusted not only the work of procreation and family life, but the creation of history itself. The woman is ‘a helper’ for the man, just as the man is ‘a helper’ for the woman: in the encounter of man and woman a unitary conception of the human person is brought about, based not on the logic of self-centredness and self-affirmation, but on that of love and solidarity.”
Unlearn and re-learn the dogmas
With regard to the question of faith, the new generation asserts: “At all times & in every nation, anyone who loves God and does what is right is acceptable to God”. It is no use opposing them.
Not FEAR of God, But LOVE of God (Bhayamalla, bhakti)
Hypocrisy means lack of love: lack of merciful love. And lack of love is another phrase for FEAR. While not loving others, we tell that we love God. We act like this because the old world is under the shadow of a fearsome punishing God. On the walls of the Christian schools and colleges it is usually written: “Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom”. Experts in original Biblical languages have shown that the Hebrew phrase which is usually translated as ‘fear of God’ has ‘religion’, ‘righteousness’, ‘love of God’ and ‘way of life’ as its original meaning.
The Sanskrit equivalent is Dharma. Instead of saying ‘Dharma is the beginning of wisdom’, people instilled fear in the tender minds of children. We made them think that God is a policeman looking for criminals or a judge waiting to convict the accused. The time has come to get rid of this centuries-old cruel joke about a policeman-God. God is perfect merciful love; nothing other than love.
Why are we scared? Why do we have enmity? Nobody is scared of a lovable person. We fear others when we cannot understand their language. We fear them since we think they will harm us. Then they are our enemies. Pardon me, we are fearing and not loving the young ones. We use their hardware and software, but don’t have a soft corner for these human beings – fully human as we are. For us they are enemies to be defeated.
If we love them there is no question of fear because “there is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment”. We are fearing that the thoughts, words, deeds, structures, systems and technologies of the young ones will be disastrous for us. We fear that they are coming to ‘punish’ us. No, they are helping us. Helping us to view (recognize) ourselves in front of the mirror of the good news of the merciful God’s own earth. They are helping us to understand (interpret) the essence of that which is above all the ideologies. They are inviting us for an attitudinal change (choosing a new path): a metanoia: a conversion of mind, of attitudes. Their new world invites us for continuous transformation: continuous change.
Don’t set limits to God’s mercy
God’s anger, revenge and punishment were bad news. Only a message of universal merciful and unconditional love is good news to humanity.
We had construed God’s love as conditional. We set limits to God’s mercy. We were trying to preach this conditional love and our mercilessness to the young ones. They cannot mug it up. Only in unconditional love, they are at ease. Let us learn from them. For that, we have to unlearn our old lessons.
Let us not instill our fear in the new citizens of God’s own earth. Let us not prevent them with a ‘false gospel’ of fear. If fear about punishment is needed for people, there is a Penal Code and a Criminal Procedure Code in every country. Then what is the need for our extra preaching on punishment?
“Fear not!” All ideologies are founded on fear of one type or another. We have to come out of the bondage of fear. For that, we have to know that fear is lovelessness.
Understand the ever-new message of merciful love and be ready to be citizens of the new Republic of equality and inclusivity which is here now in the new generation. It is the republic present in anybody who loves.
Then we will not have to fear anybody, anything. We do not have to fear our children. Just walk with these children who are guided by the spirit of love: the spirit of unity.
The challenge in the new world
To accompany our young generation we have to learn, unlearn and re-learn. Alwin Toffler asked in 1970: “Who are the illiterates of the 21st Century? They are not the people who are unable to read and write; but they are the people who are unwilling to learn, unlearn and re-learn” (The Future Shock). We have to re-learn not only science and history, but the religious dogmas also.
We have to unlearn what we consider to be grand teachings on universality of sin, personal sin, salvation, after-life, heaven, hell etc. A lot to learn, unlearn and re-learn. Usually we consider self-love as a sin. Let us remember; “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”. As yourself: it is important. To love others we have to love ourselves first.
Our young ones are filling the blanks we created with regard to the commandment of love. We de-emphasized self-knowledge, self-love and inner transformation. They are emphasizing these elements. We emphasized the universality of sin and forgot the universality of love. All the time we had discussions about personal sin; the young ones talk about social sin or structural sin. We were praising and worshiping God with our tongues; they are praising and worshiping with their striving for justice and peace. We were pinning everything on after-life; they are focusing on justice and peace in the life here and now, not denying the eternity.
* Editor, www.viewspaper.in; Director, Outlook Retreat; Former Member, National Executive, CCI (the consultative body of CBCI); Former Vice-President, KCC (the consultative body of Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council); Member, Central Liturgical Committee, Syro-Malabar Major ArchiEpiscopal Church. Email: [email protected]