To Each His Own

In diversity, we find beauty. We are all different in our own unique way which adds color to this world.
In diversity, we find beauty. We are all different in our own unique ways which adds color to this world.

There are a few things we can learn from the singing reality show The Voice. The most prominent being, never to judge a book by its cover. In the “blind auditions”, coaches are suppose to pick good contestants only by listening to them sing. This gives every contestant a fair chance at competing.

But the irony of it all is that we are still very judgmental in nature. We judge from anything to everything in our lives.

There are two things that was on my mind throughout the week – LGBT and The Bible.

Let’s talk about LGBT first.

I found one of the contestants on the new season of The Voice rather good (again I am being judgmental) and wanted to see if there were more recordings on him on youtube. I soon stumbled across his youtube channel and found a video of him “coming out” as a gay person. According to him, it is very difficult to be a gay person in the music genre he is in because apparently the genre he works with is all macho and “manly”. Well, at least that is what I thought he was trying to say.

I believe that discriminations are real and some get discriminated more than others. We may get discriminated by our race, sexual orientation, religion, and political alignment or even all of the above.

To be honest, each time I read, watch, or hear of someone’s “coming out”, I get totally annoyed. I felt the same when I came across this particular artist’s coming out video.

Why do they have to do that?!

Simply put, I don’t have to tell the world what I had for dinner yesterday or what I did with my wife within the four walls of our bedroom (now you can let your imagination run wild).

We really need not be privy to someone else’ life lest live within the confines of others’ expectations on us.

A friend of mine explained the reason for coming out this morning. According to him, it is similar to a declaration. Like a sharing with friends and family when one gets married. I can accept that.

But in reality, judgments and expectations are all around us. In some countries, even a write up on the subject of LGBT will attract accusations of encouraging “inappropriate lifestyle” and cause publications to lose their publishing rights.

But do we stop writing and talking about it?

Not unless everyone accepts and come to terms with the fact that a gay person is like any other homosapien walking on the face of this earth.

In other words, being judgmental is in fact, a personal stance and decision. If every individual make a resolution to stop judging, collectively the world at large will be less judgmental towards the LGBT community.

Now, let’s talk about the Bible. Yes, that huge book containing the word of God. The same one athiests brush off as nonsense, violent, and everything in between.

Being a believer, I have my moments of doubt and during such times, I ask “What will happen to all believers if one day, it is proven that all that has been written in that huge book is nothing but true?”.

Well, let’s take Aesop Fables to put into context what I think will happen to me if one day I found out the contents of the Bible are untrue. Though this is very unlikely to happen since my definition of faith is the decision to believe and I am one that do not reverse my decision once I make a decision (else I won’t waste time making the decision in the first place – in my own terms callee principle).

Aesop Fables offer many good principles of life to live by. Every story brings about the moral values to help us be better person. Like it or not, most of us practices and lives by these moral values even without us consciously knowing or realizing.

Well, the bible is no different if indeed it must meet the ultimate judgment of being true or false. I am opined that nothing can be written if it has not been experienced before. But the manner in which any experience can be written or articulated takes many forms and styles. Shall we take them all literally?

Therefore, the bible to me is the ultimate expression of life experiences which offers me inspirations and guidance in living my own life.

In conclusion, we are all unique in our own ways – each and everyone of us regardless of creed, and race. We are a combination of hundreds if not millions of genetical code.

Even writing this piece takes a different thought process. The style, approach, and the obvious or less obvious points that I try to make or get across are unique. Or at least, that is what I hope – this makes an interesting read.

Atheists can point out every flaw in the bible and believers can do likewise to justify an atheist’s misunderstood reasoning. When will all these proving and disapproving end?

In terms of declaring one’s beliefs, can we now also say that every declaration that Jesus is someone’s saviour the same as the declaration made by a gay person coming out?

Who are we to judge?

I am no heaven’s gatekeeper.

To each his own and let there be peace….

What would one do?

Trust The Unknown Will Be Known

“Maturity is the capacity to endure uncertainty” ~ John Finley

How are you?

This is the question we often ask whenever we meet someone – be it someone new or a known acquaintance. Over dinner yesterday, a friend shared his dislike over the common response he receives whenever he asked this question and I share his sentiments as well. We often found the responses to be very blend and dull – “I am busy”. This begs the question why are we centered around “a job” that requires us to be busy all the time?

Is that all there is to life? And are we all defined by our jobs?

What happened to “we’re great and we have just returned from vacation” or “I’m feeling inspired after reading this wonderful book by so and so”?

Must it always be a close ended response? It is almost like the person is disinterested in continuing the conversation – “Please do not bother me, I am busy”.

Giving much thoughts into it, I realized that it could be the result of a mundane, monotonous, routine, and boring life. But there are always two sides to the story.

Are we afraid to venture out of our comfort zone or we are not presented with the opportunities? Or are we too comfortable to even seek out new opportunities for ourselves?

Not until recently, I have had the courage to try new things. Fears of the unknown still lingers but I try to convince myself of the new experiences that I will gain when the unknown is conquered and understood. I am also fortunate enough to have known and work with people with good critical thinking. I must say that I have been learning this trait whenever possible. In effect to that, I am always asking myself “What would Frankie do?” or “What would Phillip do?”.

And ultimately, “What would Jesus do?”

Our actions seemed to be defined by our memories – the experiences that caused joy, pain, and everything in between. Past experiences help us reason, perceive, and most of the time assume the outcome of certain actions. We tend to shun the unknowns because we do not yet have the experiences to address them.

“Be Not Afraid” was one of St. John Paul II’s theme when he was alive.  It shows that he knew very well the struggles of the people in the world moving forward in complicated times filled with uncertainties.

But if we do not embrace the unknown and seek to understand it, how are we to gain clarity, grow, and progress?

I guess the real question is, how can we gain enough strength to tell ourselves that it is perfectly fine to make mistakes and learn from them. It is through trying different methods to find the solutions to life’s problems that we have progressed throughout the history of humanity.

Think about the inventors like Einstein and Edison. In their time and with limited knowledge, they were able to create new things. They must have been very bold to venture into uncharted waters. What has happened to the same courage and boldness now that we’re in the 21st century filled with information at our fingertips?

St. John Vianney puts it very simply that we just have to let go and trust. On that note, I leave you with one of his famous quotes…

“In your work, offer your difficulties and troubles quite simply to God…and you will find that His blessing will rest upon you and on all you do.” ~ St. John Vianney

What makes a man?

Not too long ago, the tech world was introduced to the terms “disruptive innovation” and the “internet of things” happened to be the enabler of the change and market shifts in all things tech.

Disruptive innovation is seen as something that breaks the norm. Breaking out of the ordinary, mundane, endless loop, and repetitive familiarity.

Every now and then, we come across amazing people that like a disruptive innovation, changes our perception in life and bring about a shift in our thinking and way of life. Some call them visionaries while others especially the more spiritual call them Saints.

“When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a way that when you die the world cries and you rejoice.”~ Native American Proverb

On the 10th of September 2016, approximately 240 kilometers away and two hours before the death of a priest we hold very close to our hearts, I was told that another priest used the proverb above in his sermon and repeated it twice. The sad news of the demise of this great servant of God came at approximately 9.30pm and it totally broke my heart.

Words just cannot describe how much this kind and charismatic priest has done for the Catholic community in this country. His reach can be seen stretched across the nation. The entire Catholic community is now mourning his death. Not because he held any significant position but by merely being a simple and humble priest, he have touched the hearts of many – one family at a time.

Like many, the news of his death came as a shock to me and naturally, I started to reason the untimely death. It is indeed frustrating that the good ones leave us early and I felt the unfairness of life. The sadness soon turned into anguish.

As I read through some of the dedications and messages left on his facebook page, I slowly come to the realization that he is indeed one of those visionaries and Saints. He has lived out his life as an angel of God with the sole purpose of bringing people closer to God. In his missionary and charitable works, he has led many to the path of righteousness.

It was on the same day that my wife had told me about how certain spiritual leaders are out to save a generation of less fortunate people. These leaders are the disruptive element in the endless repetition of poverty, injustice, and suffering. They bring about the shift and change to help poor people break out of what they perceive as the only way in life. These spiritual leaders offer and introduces new life changing ideas to the poor and marginalized. I believe this is what some call Salvation or perhaps the good news.

Another good example of such a person is Oprah Winfrey. Because she understands the importance of education and the need to alleviate poor communities from their woes, she started the pledge to put hundreds of African American men through the Morehouse College. In effect to that, these men progressed through life and were able to raise families under better circumstances compared to the uncertainties if not given the opportunity to go through college. It created a ripple effect, broke the chains of poverty, and changed and inspired the lives of many.

In my life, I have had the opportunities to cross paths with many people and I thank God for all of them because they each leave a small imprint in my life that plays a huge collective role in forming my values as a human being. And in turn, I hope that one day I can be that visionary to someone else. Indeed, no man is an island. If he is, he will never ever get to break out of what he perceived is the best.

I thank God for this amazing priest. I pray that he will one day be canonized as a Saint. Apparently, it takes two miracles to make one a saint but reading the dedications to him is nothing short of a miracle what he has done for the people around him.

He did not leave us with material things but he has given us the greatest intangible gift of all. The gift of himself, his love, his lessons, his ideas, his ideals, his values, his compassion, his empathy, his kindness, and the list goes on…

We rejoice that an angel has gone before us and we thank God for sending him to us and allowing him to touch our hearts. He is indeed the reason we know for sure that there is a God.

And I looked up the sky this evening and I saw a smile. I take it that he is now rejoicing with the host of angels by his side.

In loving memory of Rev. Fr. Phillips Muthu (1960~2016)