Sunday, December 23, 2012

Baby in the manger and homeless people: A Christmas Message - 15 years on


EDITORIAL –Fiji Daily Post – 24th December, 2000

Baby in the manger and homeless people: A Christmas Message- 15 years on

Below is Editorial that I wrote for Fiji’s Daily Post newspaper when I was its Publisher in 2000 after George Speight's attempted-coup and atrocities on Indo-Fijian displaced cane farmers encouraged by hatred preached and propagated by the then Methodist Church in Fiji from their pulpits. The Church in Fiji in 1987 and 2000 coups had been a source of shame on Christianity, as it involved itself in politics and spread message of hatred, religious superiority and bigotry. 

This year 2015 marks 15 years to that date. This period hold great significance for Hindus where Lord Ram, after 14 years in exile, returned to establish Ram Rajya- a rule and governance of righteousness. He fought the ogres and demons to establish peace, security, justice and respect for all. This has got metaphorical significance for Fiji.

Fiji is thankful to Frank Bainimarama, who after an attempt on his life, fought hard to establish a democratic government in Fiji, and this has now been achieved earlier last year. While there are things that needs improvements and some questionable actions, however, overall things have improved remarkably. One great step was to have a home-grown solution rather than an imported Western-style democracy that has failed Fiji in the past. Certain other restrictions, including media, seen by outside world as imposing are necessary for Fiji to establish and stabilize  its democracy under positive circumstances. While the current arrangements may not be perfect, they however, are a good deal better than the past methods that have been failures.

Thanks to current Fiji’s Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama for clipping the wings of both Methodist Church and a very divisive and questionable Great Council of Chiefs, which, instead of being an advisory body, had become very politicized under past Fijian regimes. Fiji hopefully faces better future under the newly-elected democratic government. We just hope we have wise men in the government to fulfill the hopes of a nation embroiled in coup-culture.

Below is that Editorial that was more relevant in 2000 but equally true for Christmas message and theme today. This is a reflection that Fiji has come a long way since 14 years of "banvaas" or democratic wilderness. But it is also important not to forget what we have come through, and be thankful for what we have today. As as usual, the whingers and mourners, who have been pushed out from the past gravy-train, will continue to complain. But Fiji has to move forward from its coup culture.

Three wise men
A BLAST FROM THE PAST: Daily Post editorial 15 years ago-24 December, 2000

Tomorrow  (25 December) we will celebrate what Christians regard as the birth of the Saviour, Lord Jesus Christ.

Apart from praising the lord and singing in His honour, Christmas is also a time for reflection.

Joseph and Mary were virtually homeless in Bethlehem, as all the inns were full. They had to seek refuge in a manger with animals. Just as Jesus did not become an animal or a horse by being delivered in a manger, similarly those Christians in Fiji who are born to Christian parents or in Christian homes do not simply become Christians. Christianity is more than an accident of birth and baptism. It is a way of life, manifested in your actions.


Baby Jesus in the manger with three wise men
Fiji has gone through a great deal in seven months after the attempted coup on 19 May, 2000 by george Speight. Tomorrow, or from midnight tonight as Churches throughout the country fill up with those who proclaim to be Christians to praise the lord, we wish to remind many of them about their behavior and conduct during the crisis facing the country.

How many of them can honestly emulate the goodwill, compassion, forgiveness and neighbourly love that Lord Jesus has been preaching as a simple person born in a manger to a carpenter father? Christianity is not about shouting at the top of your voices in loud speakers without trying to understand Christ and his teachings. Neither is it about causing misery to other people six days of the week only to come to Church on Sundays to ask for Lord’s forgiveness. 

Our reports in the papers give tear jerking situation of displaced farmers and other tenants who have nowhere to go or call a home. This Christmas they will be as homeless and in as hostile atmosphere as Mary and Joseph were on the day the Lord was born.
A displaced Indo-Fijian cane farmer wiping his tears in front of his burnt house during racially-inspired 2000 coup [Photo Courtesy of Rajendra Prasad, Author TEARS IN PARADISE-Suffering and Struggles of Indians in Fiji 1879-2004]
This Christmas as those who call themselves Christians pray to the lord, please reflect on the misery that you may have knowingly or inadvertently inflicted on others in the name of one cause or the other. Please also reflect whether your conduct has been a pride to the religion that was founded around a very simple person with no worldly possession whose biggest virtue was love for His fellow beings.

When one reflects on the recent events springing up from 1987 and repeated since May [2000] this year, one of the biggest casualties of those events have been Christianity and Churches which have not entirely been used as the medium to spread the Lord’s message. There has been immense loss of goodwill from people of other beliefs when the teachings and deeds and actions of their followers went in complete opposite directions.

 Another Indo Fijian victim of racially-inspired coup of 2000 supported by Christians, Methodist Church and Great Council of Chiefs.[Photo Courtesy of Rajendra Prasad, Author TEARS IN PARADISE-Suffering and Struggles of Indians in Fiji 1879-2004]
 The custodians and guardians of the Churches need to reflect on the actions of their flock and indulge in damage control to redeem the Churches and the religion from any wrongdoing.

Christianity is about behaving like Christians. Tomorrow when the Churches fill up, please spare a moment for the victims of hatred, envy and racism that have taken root in this country. Please pray to Lord to spare all of us from the evils that we have in us.

Hope love and respect preached by Christianity and Christmas theme is shared amongst us.

Only when the teachings of Lord Jesus Christ becomes a way of life for all those who call themselves Christians can we say that we are honestly in a position to merrily celebrate His birth and praise His glory.

May the blessings of lord shower on you this Christmas and may we all become better people through His teachings. Merry Christmas to you all.

[FIJI PUNDIT wishes all its readers a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year throughout the world, as we look forward to a better future with a democratically elected government. While not being perfect, it is a good recipe to unity, peace, progress and prosperity in Fiji.]