Isn’t forgiveness an option too ?

At a recent event on Women’s day actor Rahul Bose made the following statement and he received sharp criticism for it.

“…We have to ask ourselves, of the five or six of the rapists of the December 16 (gang-rape), is there anyone who wants to change, who wants to reform … Nobody is saying about commuting any sentence, the sentence stands as it is, but while it stands, can we create a gender warrior among them? If anybody is open to reaffirmation, do we have it in us to subvert our patriarchal mindset and tell them that we are ready to confer even the right to reform to you, even if there is such a massive public upsurge against you?… If we have to… evolve as a civilization further beyond the boundaries of India, then we have to look at forgiveness,”

This was his statement the next day when he reacted to the responses he had received on various social media platforms.

“Don’t know whether my statement on reformative justice for ALL criminals was misquoted-(haven’t read it), but am tweeting it in a series. All criminals should be sentenced according to the law, but while serving time I believe if any of them show deep, genuine remorse they should be given a chance to reform in jail. Rapists included. But if the perpetrator shows no remorse, then neither should we. And for all those asking how I would feel if a person dear to me was raped, the answer is : very sad, even angry. But if, over time, the perpetrator showed, deep, genuine remorse while in jail, I would find it in my heart to forgive him. As a civilization, that’s the only way to evolve to a better, more peaceful place. Hate begets hate. Love, forgiveness even, stops that cycle. My timeline is full of hate. I understand, but will never apologise for my beliefs. Thanks for (if you have) reading. My beliefs never stem from a knee jerk reaction. They stem from reading, seeking counsel from those wiser than me, feeling, analysing looking at history, at context and into my mind and heart.”

My first honest reaction when I read the statement for the first time was that it was a radical thought but the words were weighed and thoughtfully put together. I value forgiveness but as it is human nature when our emotions are riding high on anger and grief, forgiveness isn’t the first option which comes to mind. Reading through the comments on the newspaper articles that reported Mr’s Bose’s two statements, I realised that forgiveness may be a difficult option for many.

Total forgiveness is two fold in my opinion. First part is to forgive the act that was done but the second part, one I have often found very difficult, is to not judge a person based on their past actions whether forgiven or not. It is difficult to understand the nature of forgiveness itself. The christian faith implores us to look at another dimension for forgiveness. We forgive others because we have been forgiven.

Mat 6:12 (TEB) “Forgive us the wrongs that we have done, as we forgive the wrongs others have done us.”

Luke 6:37 (NIV) “…Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

Mat 6:14-15 (NIV) “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But, if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

A lot has been said and written on christian idea of forgiveness and a a simple google search would lead you to those articles. The point of this discussion is whether it is possible for someone to be remorseful and have a change of heart even while serving the sentence for their crimes. I agree  it is difficult to measure someone’s remorse, to understand if it is real and if a change/ transformation has occurred , yet I feel a part of forgiveness begins with our own selves. Sometimes we forgive someone because of how we feel for them and at other times we do it for our selves. In forgiving others we can find our own depth (and vice versa too, if we are unforgiving in the face true repentance does it not show some hardness of our own heart?). In receiving forgiveness we also receive hope for tomorrow, a hope of redemption, salvation and a reconciliation with the divine. For someone living out a death sentence, that hope would be enough to make the days liveable and the death tolerable.

Even though it is a difficult option, Forgiveness is the stepping stone to change. We owe it to humanity to offer a chance of change and a hope of redemption to our fellow human beings. Although it is hard in times of tragedy, we have to peel ourselves away from our emotions and let peace prevail.

Phir MIlenge!!

Shortly before I published this piece, the news emerged that Ram Singh, the 35-year-old main accused in Nirbhaya’s brutal gang rape, was found dead in his Jail cell. It has been termed as a suicide so far. The reaction to the death has been varied – from some people rejoicing for one less criminal to some lamenting yet another failure of the justice system. Some controversy theories of whether it was really a suicide have also begun doing the rounds. Was  Ram singh  so deprived of the hope that he could repent and be forgiven? Was taking his life the only way for him to show true remorse? Did he know he wouldn’t be ever forgiven and offered a chance to transform? The questions are all daunting.

Naari (the woman)

“You are her (sarah’s) daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.”

1 Peter 3:6

This women’s day is not so much about celebrating the women for me but to remind young girls of the potential they hold. As a mother of a daughter, I want to be a good role model. I want her to know that a woman can be soft, and gentle yet can be strong. Being strong doesnot mean becoming manly but to embrace our own strengths. Even in the animal kingdom a mother with kids is an easy mark but we know she can be the most ferocious beast as well. Our vulnerability can become our strength if we remain aware of it. The creative and nurturing spirit that God has breathed in us is our elixir.

Sometimes it’s the women who stop other women from being strong. In India daughters are discouraged by their own mothers to pursue education and forced to settle down in domestic roles. Here is my sketch for the day  and a short poem:

image

Roughly translated it means:

Not only good looks give me good qualities,

Give me a calm and strong mind.

My heart tells me this

a dream lives in you too.

You gave me your manners and talents

Why did you not give me the freedom too?

Give me my right today mother!

Say “be victorious” and bless me.

Become the wings of my dreams,

and come fly with me.

Let me fulfill my dreams mother!

then I will be called your daughter.

Happy Women’s Day to you all.

Phir Milenge!!

Wott-ee-dhaat?

“Wott-ee-dhaat?” is my daughter’s speak for ‘ what is that?’. In my attempt to teach her about things around her, I started asking her this question every time we saw something on the street, zoo or shop things she had seen in a book or on tv and now she asks this question ALL THE TIME!. Before you say anything let me clarify I allow her 1/2 hour of television after lunch and 1/2 hour after dinner. Now-a-days my daughter says many things in her toddler language which I hope to document some day! My friend Divs did a great job of recording her daughter’s first phrases in her scrapbook. (This is a gentle nudge for you Divs to get back onto blogging!!)

I have said it time and again, I have learnt so many new things ever since I got pregnant with my daughter. She continues to amaze me with her sense of wonder, innocence and curiosity. She sees something and is amazed by it over and over again. Sometimes I wish I could do the same. It would be so easy to be happy then. Some of the things that we often take for granted would become adorable once more. If only we can remind ourselves again what it was that captured our heart in the first place.

One area where this principle can be applied is spiritual disciplines and this is what I am striving to do this year. I remember as a little tween girl when I read the Book of John and the Psalms, I was captivated by the beautiful imagery the words created. At that time I did not fully understand the meaning but the words were music to my ears. As 2012 came to an end , I was once again reminded of the reasons why I my head and heart was drawn to Christ. I am feeling drawn to explore The Word a bit more and recapture the sense of wonder I once had. Kudos to those of you who have a regular scripture reading routine. it’s not easy but it has to be done. It’s much like cooking isn’t it ? You have to do it because your body needs it whether you like it or not but there at least you have an option of going out and eat what someone else cooks. The spiritual nourishment that the scriptures provide has to be consumed on our own – there are NO shortcuts. I am hoping that in my bible reading this year I would be able to ask God, “Wott-ee-dhaat?” again and once again He will let His truth shine !

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

John 8:32

Phir Milenge!

Post 27: Christmas Guest Post

Quote

Middle East and India based Frank Raj is the founding editor and publisher of ‘The International Indian’, the oldest magazine of Gulf-Indian society and history since 1992. He is listed in Arabian Business magazine’s 100 most influential Indians in the Gulf and is co-author of the upcoming publication ‘Universal Book of the Scriptures.’  His book ‘Desh aur Diaspora’ was published in 2012 and is available online here. You can read more of his work here. He blogs at www.no2christianity.com.

Today I have the privilege of sharing with you this poem written by him.

IN BETHLEHEM’S BIRTH
By Frank Raj
It is the evening of my days, it shows quite clearly on my face
In my immortal youth this was definitely not the case
I gave little thought to finishing the end of the race
How sweet are the hopes and pleasures of our youth
Yet so futile, for a life not undergirded by liberating truth
Divine, vital nourishment to anticipate our eternal youth
I wish I had understood early how quickly life concludes
Strength depletes, the skin wrinkles and time deludes
Teasing me with memories of promising days and youthful moods
I have my regrets but the loss of my youth does not figure very high
For that was the phase when my life was mostly big and small lies
Pride and ambition got out of control, as if time was something I could buy
I wish I had learned to be more alert about my enemies within
The most dangerous of all, camouflaged and so stylishly hidden
Invincible, unless Bethlehem’s birth brings new life in
Many beloved friends and family have gone ahead of me
I grieve for those who are taken unaware, who do not see in Galilee
God’s purpose and loving concern, as they choose to live carelessly
I know the evening of our lives is no time for a face forlorn
But a chance to innovate and discover newness in every dawn
To engage with life’s greatest adventure, and learn to be reborn
Phir Milenge!!
Phir Milenge!!

Post 26: Christmas Art

It’s that time of the year again! Christmas season is upon us. For some it means a time for religious contemplation and deliberation, for some others celebration and partying and for some of indifference.

While I admire and enjoy all the celebrations, decorations and traditions surrounding Christmas or the holiday season, I cannot help but reminisce about my early Christmas experiences. I grew up in a lower-middle class Delhi in India. Ours was a Christmas without the bells and whistles. It was about Jesus and him alone. The renewed awareness of God coming to earth in human form to save the souls brought with itself an added awareness of the great commission and so followed many weekends of prayer, outreach and carol-singing. A celebration despite and in-spite of our circumstances. There was no christmas tree – they were to be found in some big churches as decorations; No Santa Claus –  he only came to award the excellence in sunday school or church activities, and no stockings stuffed with stuff. Our celebration included coming together as a church over a pot luck meal and as family meeting over dinner and it was a joyful time.

Okay, I did not start this post with this lecture on mind (may be I`ll do that in a post later) rather to share with you two drawings that I created for the Christmas time.

This would be my daughter`s second Christmas and my nephew`s first. I know many moms are looking online for Christmas graphics for the first and second Christmas celebrations to use in scrapbooks, table tags or cards and I thought of sharing with youfun and and whimsical little graphics that I created. second christmas first christmas You can print and frame these images in mini frames and hang them with ribbons on the tree or use them in the baby`s scrap book.

The last image I want to share with you is of the nativity scene from my house this year. I traced my daughters hand and drew Joseph, Mary and the three wise men in the fingers and the baby Jesus in the palm. This idea features finger puppets, henna patterns and Madhubani drawings all rolled into one.  I am very happy with how it turned out in the end.

image 4

As always your feedback is welcome and appreciated.

Phir Milenge!!