Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Character formation

Each night, I lock the gate and place the keys on a certain spot. I have been doing this over and over, week after week, month after month. When I was with sister, sometimes she would do it; and sometimes, we’d both forget or don’t do it thinking the other person had already done it. Now, with no one around, I make it a point to do it every single night.
When it started, it was burdensome and there were times when I would forget or question why I should lock the gate anyway. But with repeated practice, I am finding it to be much easier. One night, I surprised myself. I have been busy with some work for which I arrived home late. And my mind was preoccupied that I didn’t remember how I got myself into my room. Then I came to my senses and awareness of my surroundings and went to lock the gate. But I found it locked and the key was in its usual place!! I have already done it unaware. 

That is how Christian character-building works; N.T Wright seems to say in his book ‘After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters’. Several years after I became a Christian, I am realizing in a fresh way that it requires practice to build spiritual character. It doesn’t have to feel right to begin with. It may not come naturally at the beginning. But you do it anyway; practicing the fruit of the Spirit and spiritual disciplines until Christian character is built in you. And it matters to have cultivated character for you never know when the time will come when you will need it. In times of crisis, Patience cannot be instinctively generated at the moment of need, for someone who lacks it. But if you want Patience, it is something that you ought to cultivate day in and day out until that character comes ‘naturally’ to you. 

Easier said than done. To change one's behavior is the most difficult thing to do in the world. That is why, we need the power and help of the Holy Spirit...and keep working at it.

Blowing One's Trumpet

Have you met people who within the first few minutes lets you know all the degrees and medals that they have amassed? This blurting out of one’s own achievements is not uncommon in the Indian society. It seems to have become an accepted norm of human interaction. One reason for this type of behavior may be that they want to be taken seriously. Another reason may be that they want to show off and show who is superior. 

One video is doing the rounds in the internet where some youths in Delhi were interviewed about the chance of India winning the FIFA World Cup 2014. They are optimistic that India can win it. And they would give reasons why that is possible. And when the interviewer asked if they'd seen the Indian (a fictitious name derived from 'I am lying') scoring, they said they did. You should look at their faces when they were told that India did not qualify for the World Cup. There is no 'I don't know' in their vocabulary. 

I knew someone who had a couple of visits to my home State Nagaland. And he claimed to know more than me; that he'd say the directions of places and the things that I can find here. I did not want to waste any energy engaging in a conversation with him.

In the Naga society also this culture is catching up. You find people claiming credit for things that they haven't done. It can be a government project that one claims to have brought to the villagers. There was a newspaper article where some people claimed that the present legislator of the area brought MGNREGA scheme to the village which the former legislators failed to do. One can be seen boasting as if one is running the show in a department or a certain administrative block is running under one's watchful eyes. Sometimes, we see them shrouded in false humility.

It was a pleasant surprise that I came across a certain person who I traveled with for two days. Only after the person left the State and I checked online did I realize that the person has degrees and achievements which are great.