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Stewardship and Trusteesh
  By A.J. Philip  
  I ACCOMPANIED Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his visit to South Africa on the occasi  
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Letter to Metropolitan
  By Rev A.P. Jacob and five other priests  
  Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan Most Rev. Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar  
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Small word, big problem
  By William Grimm  
  PEOPLE who have studied English as a second language tell me that three of the biggest challenges they encount  
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Back to infancy -- they need you!
  By Shaheen Chander  
  ENJOYING a relaxed weekend, I was checking updates on the Facebook page. I came across a beautiful quote that summed up life so beautifully in a few words. "People were created to be loved and things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos is that things are being loved and people are being used".

The quote attracted many likes and shares, the Facebook way of showing consent! I kept pondering over it, recapitulating the classroom lectures emphasizing human life and the related issues. I could relate it to the ongoing societal issues as well, where in, many old people are not treated the way they deserve.

Human life, the years of one's existence, as the teachers taught, could be divided into many stages -- infancy, childhood, adolescent years, adulthood, to name a few. Interestingly, the studies on human life generally began with a brief note on conception, the very beginning of human life. From here only, we as students could relate how the relationship between the parents and the offspring dominates all the stages to follow.

Parental role across various stages

A stage-wise study of human existence shows the involvement of parents at every step. Beginning with infancy, parents familiarize the child with the environment outside the womb. From a toddler's attainment of self-awareness to his learning of the expression of emotions, parental role is pivotal.

Early childhood brings in more responsibilities as the youngster accomplishes more tasks in the light of the developmental programs. Issues related to school, siblings, play, eating etc. add on to the existing execution of the tasks learnt.

Then comes the adolescence, the stage accentuating the disagreements between the first school (parents) and the student (the teen) regarding career choices, relationship problems and many other issues. Swaying through the turmoil, the teen now becomes an adult.

The early adulthood phase brings in new establishments and liabilities that strengthen the bonds between the parents and their grown-up children. Parenthood, marital responsibilities, occupational decisions, relationships, family ties, all require the governance of the experienced ones, the parents. During the middle adulthood, an individual actually gets a chance to be in his parents' shoes but the sane advice of the parents (now the grandparents) is still acclaimed.

Stage where child's role is pivotal

All the above stages define the role played by parents in their child's life as mother/father or as grandparents in the long run. A quick review of the above mentioned stages shows that there isn't a single stage where a parent's role is not required and there is just ONE stage where a child’s role in a parent's life is needed the most. Yes! The old age -- the stage that demands utmost care and patience in taking care of the elderly.

Old age and the related problems

The stage is typified by a change in self-concept, wherein, an individual undergoes a series of physiological and psychological changes. A wide variety of emotional and behavioural problems set in. Physical disabilities coupled with other health issues lead to a wide variety of problems. Anxiety, panic attacks, insecurities, deteriorating health and other problems such as Alzheimer's disease are very common. Loss of partner and the resulting loneliness is another causative factor that leads to emotional problems. Another change is the increase in dependence on others. This is generally seen among people who require special care due to their medical condition. This also leads to a change on the behavioural and emotional front.

Tips for caregivers

Caregivers (whether children and grandchildren) need to spend quality time with the elderly. Loss of physical strength and mental capabilities may force the person to behave indifferently but this sense of loneliness can be dealt with in an effective manner. One should understand that anxiety and panic attacks are a result of the ageing process that leads to insecurities, health issues etc. Patience is the key to deal with patients who have neurological problems like Alzheimer's. There is no cure for it. The elderly may exhibit certain symptoms of diseases which may not be well understood and may go unnoticed. Regular health checkups and following medical advice is recommended in such cases.

Thus earnest efforts need to be put in to take care of the elderly. After all, this is the only stage that requires a child's role in its real terms. This reminds me of another group on FB that encourages children not to put their parents in old age homes and not to forget what they did for them!
The writer is a Chandigarh-based psychologist.
Spare the rod, save the child
  By Andre Bruylants  
  PHYSICAL punishment in schools like caning, slapping or beating, even in the most moderate of forms, is now banned by the courts. Period!

Formerly, a kid who was caned in school would get another beating at home to corroborate that his parents stood by authority. No longer!

Thence the question, how to discipline the child and the teenager when they cross the Lakshman Rekha (dividing line), as they are prone to do?

How has physical beating in schools as a form of punishment become a practice in India?

I had my schooling on the "Continent." I do not remember instances of physical beating in school. Not that we were never punished.

It looks to me that caning as a form of punishment is a legacy of the British system of education.

Anyone who watched the movie Goodbye, Mr. Chips or read James Hilton's novel will remember that Mr. Chipping, the much-beloved teacher and headmaster, who earned the esteem and respect of his students, practiced caning as a matter of rule to redress those found wanting.

His mandate as the head of the institution was to mold youngsters and make gentlemen out of them as expected by the British society of his time. And the system said, "Use the cane!"

But Mr. Chipping was benign compared to Dickens' Oliver Twist's world where the child had no rights, no face and no name.

Now children have rights, and a face and a name. They are persons in their own right, echoing the Lord's exhortation to "Let the children come to me."

Thanks to the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, they have the right, among others, "to be protected from violence and abuse." But what is less known is that they have the right "to express themselves and give their opinion." And perhaps, it is here that for the adult, the shoe pinches.

Violence by would-be mentors falls short of their mission in accompanying their charges in their growth toward adult personhood.

It doesn't have to be physical. Emotional violence can be a severe. Think of epithets showered on youngsters in the heat of classroom demonstrations. Think of the hurts, in moments of impatience, created by hasty words or actions, by ignoring a pupil or denying the sincerity of her efforts.

Think of deliberate humiliations in front of peers (standing on the desk with hands on the earlobes) or name-calling ('good-for-nothings'), and so on, quite apart from slappings or beatings.

The effects of emotional violence is as varied as its forms. Some students respond passively, others aggressively. Some show poor academic performance, lack of self-confidence, or engage in self-injury, bullying, or other antagonistic reactions.

By constrast, where emotionally positive learning is fostered, students feel less burdened and are more cooperative and adjusted. They are more respectful toward each other in their cultural and faith differences. They tend to get the most out of school life.

The need of the hour is to put the heart back in the midst of the classroom and in the playground. We must give the same status to imagination, creativity and intuition as we do to knowing, remembering and reasoning.

A Kolkata media commentator recently encapsulated a good test for whether schools have fulfilled their task to "Discover the child, watch over him, stand by him and set him free."
Father Andre Bruylants SJ, 84, is the author of books on value education for schools and was the principal of Jesuit schools in the order's Calcutta province for 25 years. He has influenced school curriculums in Jesuit schools across eastern India.

Judges, judge thyself
  By Dominic Emmanuel, SVD  
  IN ancient India which virtually lived in its thousands of villages, most of the conflicts or disagreements were settled by the village panchyats through the judgment passed by the five chosen elders of the village. In many villages this system still works.

Formally though we now have a well–established legal system and most of the conflicts or cases of crimes are settled now through legal procedures in courts. The courts function at different levels and if a person or institution is not satisfied with a particular judgment, one can appeal to the highest court of the land. There are now even international courts. All these courts are guided by a proper legal system of jurisprudence.

There is, however, another form of judgment and judging that is used by those who are neither judges nor assigned the job of arbitration. Neither is this practiced in courts. And because there is no system and process involved, such judgments come in hordes and are passed in double–quick time. And often the person being judged or condemned neither knows about it neither is s/he given a chance to be heard.

This concerns our everyday judgments about our neighbors, colleagues, their actions and quite often about their intentions. Of course, there are times when what we say about others, especially behind their backs, may be just gossip which is not likely to harm the person we are talking about. But it is also not rare that such loose chitchat, rumours and passing of judgment has ruined their reputations and tarnished somebody's good name. For those of us who engage in such rumour mongering it may be just a pastime. But such leisure destroys deep friendships and causes serious misunderstandings in longstanding relationships.

Having observed situations such as these and the habit of judging others' intentions, Jesus in the Bible admonished his listeners, saying, "Don't judge others, and you will not be judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you (Math. 7: 1-2)".

'Projection' is a term used by psychologists to explain the behaviour of someone who projects onto someone else an intention of what s/he thinks or may wish to do. Such behaviour is often the result of hiding one's own inadequacies or unhealthy intentions. It is a defence mechanism to cope with one's own shortcomings and grey areas. Judging others is nothing more than such projections.

It is important to remember that such spirit of condemnation is also a sign of a personality which is at odds with itself. Apart from psychological reasons for this to happen, another reason is total lack of awareness of one's own actions. This in turn points to a lack of spiritual contact with the Divine. God has certainly not entrusted us with the task of condemning others. Who are we to sit in judgment over what someone else is doing unless what s/he does, harms the society or is done purely to put someone innocent in trouble.

This, of course, does not mean that we should not speak up against the evils of corruption, cheating, lying, exploitation of the poor and the downtrodden. What Jesus is warning us against is to stop judging and criticizing others on those very things that we could be found guilty of.

Therefore, after advising them not to judge others Jesus concludes the admonition by putting a challenge before them, "Why do you notice the small piece of dust that is in your friend's eye, but you don't notice the big piece of wood that is in your own? Why do you say to your friend, 'Let me take that piece of dust out of your eye'? Look at yourself first! You still have that big piece of wood in your own eye. You are a hypocrite! First, take the wood out of your own eye. Then you will see clearly to get the dust out of your friend's eye (Math. 7: 3-6).

Before we speak about others it may be good to go through the test which Socrates administered to someone who came to complain to him about one of his students. Before he could start, Socrates asked him, "a) Are you sure that what you will say is true? b) Is it something good? and c) Is what you want to tell me going to be useful to me at all?" When the answer to all the three was in negative, Socrates told him, "If what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?" (Courtesy: Asian Age)
The writer is Director and Spokesperson
Delhi Catholic Archdiocese
Tips for teens
  By Tisy Jose, UMI  
  HAPPY birthday to you, happy birthday dear Nidhi, May you have many, many, boyfriends, happy birthday to you... , went the refrain of a birthday greetings at a birthday party recently thrown by Nidhi's parents at their residence in Kanpur. Never mind if little Nidhi was celebrating her fifth birthday surrounded by her peer group. Although all of them were familiar with the word 'boy friend', none of them could differentiate a boyfriend from a girlfriend. Nidhi's teacher-mother Supriya who was proudly recording the song could not stop her head from spinning at such a shocking numbers raised to its crescendo by a group of cherubs!

On the following day a desperate Supriya rushed to the school and told me, "Sister, Nidhi is an adult at five. She talks and behaves like a grown up. It is hard for me to take that birthday song her friends sang for her the other day. Doesn't all this stuff look abnormal? I calmed her down and decided to listen myself to that angel-choir at a recess. Eliciting from them the source of their greeting song, they answered in one voice, "Our college- going didies (elder sisters) near our houses hang out with their boyfriends. We too want many boyfriends". "What for", I queried. "For sex", came the reply. "What is sex?", probed I. "Oh, sex is all about chocolate, designer clothes, lipsticks, high-heel shoes, mobile phones, perfumes, pubs, movies, soft drinks, dancing..." the list went endless.

Now it is that time of the year when droves of teens fresh out of their schools flock to colleges for higher studies. As admission fever runs high, those teens who are forced to sacrifice their favorite streams on the altar of parental pressure take to the gang of nocturnal creatures. The whole night they revel in merriment and sleep the day out. They form an alternate generation least interested in studies and most interested in its own lexicon of strange language, expression, symbols and rituals all suggestive of sex. They live in a world of glitter, fashion, parties and 'chilling out'. The time spending outside home progressively lengthens. Pubs, eateries, parks and multiplexes are their favorite resorts. Things are 'no big deal' for them and one only has to 'cool it'. If you are not on the 'same page' you are regarded rustic.

Hailing from the upper crust of the society with peer group of snob values their irresponsible sexual behaviour set norms for the younger ones in society. Parallel to their invented lexicon 'chill pill' (unwind), 'Babes' (girls), 'shake and swing' 'kick ass' etc, an unprecedented flood of snazzy motorbikes, luxury sedans and entertainment centres thrive around flowing malls.

It is more distressing than shocking to note that this very alternate generation creates a corresponding increase of rape and social brigandage, break-ins, betrayals of love, suicides and vengeance-driven murders in the society. The uncontrolled sexual energy of our teens leads to tragic incidents that ruin their lives. The rate of teenage-pregnancies is rising higher day by day causing millions of abortions. "No one told us what to do", they complain when questioned about the blunders they make in fatuous relationships. A big chunk of our teens are vocal about their confusion in sexual matters. "We should have someone to talk to who can penetrate our minds, says a sweet sixteen Nina of class XI. "How can we talk about this with our mothers? How to frame questions about our doubts about sexual matters to our teachers"?, wonders Anuradha of Ist year B.Com.

In the tidal waves of the present sociological transformation, taboos disappear putting in place a permissive kind of dissipation in the lives of our youth. Our media-saturated age is also a sex-saturated age. This three-letter word in the air, everything else revolves around it as though the whole human person is nothing else but 'sex'. This 'indulgence' culture that thrives on consumerism, market and media make the youth prepared to pitch everything else for the sake of pleasure. The juvenile period of adolescence and teenage are steamy years of youth when they are swept off their feet by the waves of sexual revolution. They are bombarded by alluring visuals and overload of information via TV, Internet, pornography, market, mobile pones and other electronic gadgets. And their friends help experiment all what they view and learn from these mediums.

When a five-year old in the class thus blurts out, " Meera didi and Manoj bhayya are doing sex", the teacher silences him saying, "sex is not a bad word". But obviously our teens need guidance from A to Z of sex and sexuality, love and romance, responsible sexual behaviour and committed marital bond etc if we are to tackle the enormity of the tragic incidents happening in young India. But the million dollar question is 'Who will bell the cat?' Neither state nor religion, neither schools nor homes make serious and systematic effort to impart sex education to our younger generation. They are left to pick it up from street corners and through other destructives mediums.

Youth is precious to us. They are the hope of the nation. If they perish we as a people perish. Around half of our nation is currently under 20 years without imparting sex education where do our youth land up?

A concerted effort of the parents and teachers are urgent to disseminate a holistic knowledge on sexuality to our teens. Not the kind of that over-sexed exercise where only the sexual urge, reproduction, use of condom and experimental sex etc, were initiated a few years back in a Delhi School Health Camp under the pretext of sex education!

The umbrella word 'Sex Education' or Sexuality Education embraces the whole gamut of a person's physical, mental and spiritual life. It explores the broader aspects of human relationship consisting of love, trust, attraction, sympathy, romance et al that make up human sexuality. Drawing a clear distinction between sex in animals which is based on mere instincts and sex in a human being rooted in reason and communication of the whole person to the other, true sex education is to help realize the sacredness and importance of human sexuality. Positive parenting and a sound schooling coupled with well informed counseling can save our teens from the perils of a permissive society.

However, it is equally important that the teens themselves take interest in acquiring thorough knowledge about their sexuality. Teens are a lot who put all their trust in their 'best friend'. If so who actually can be the best of their best friends except their dear parents who gave them life and love, care for them and are concerned about them more than anyone else in the world? There can be no best friend to a girl better than her own dear mother who knows and loves her the most in life. Similarly for a guy there can be no better best friend than his own dear dad even though his love may not always be understood by his children.

No one can give right tips for teens better than their parents who although may not be trained counselors or sexologists, are well equipped with native wisdom, practical knowledge and on the top of it all a thorough knowledge of their own dear clients. A mother of tender love and an understanding father can be the best teachers of sexuality education. And there can be no venue better conducive than ones own home where love and sex basically originate and belong.

Dear teens, sit in the loving company of your dear parents, trust them, choose them as your best friends, hold open chat with them all about your doubts and troubles, success and failure in the adventure of growing up. They will teach you when to say 'no' and how to do it. They will teach you how to detect your manipulators and treat them squarely. They will show you the futility of your day-dreaming and fantasies. Learn from them with love and gratitude.

As Alexander Pope puts succinctly, "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread". Neither was Aristotle wrong when he said, "The wisest woman is the one who recognizes his/her ignorance. Therefore, grow in the 'humility of the wise and the wisdom of the humble'. Take the world in your stride; make your family and nation proud. Bravo. (Courtesy:
Child Adoption -- Are you ready for it?
  By Shaheen Chander  
  IT didn't take us long to be friends with this family which had recently shifted near our place. Their only son and his wife, a young couple in their mid-thirties, were planning to adopt a child. Owing to the complexities and problems involved, the decision was crucial. On their visit to our place, the discussion revolved around the issue and invited several feedbacks in the form of experiences and advice.

Some positive experiences were shared, about couples who diplomatically handled the situation and tactfully unveiled the truth to their children. The adopted children were brought up in a congenial environment and mentally prepared to face the challenges ahead.

Contrary to this, a case was discussed that shed light on the bitter realities and some unpleasant consequences of not handling the situation well. Here the parents had never divulged this fact to the child that he was adopted. But one day, one of the family members, in a fit of anger over some minor dispute, revealed it. This left the child completely shattered.

So each case unveiled a new story accompanied by a new set of experiences, consequences and problems. Thus, owing to the challenges involved, the process of child adoption has always been an interesting and intriguing issue.

Adoption and the problems involved

For understanding the process and the problems associated with it, let's take a closer look at the meaning of the very word 'adoption'.

The word is closer in meaning to the following words: acceptance, confinement, support, foster and befriend. These are the words that depict the reactions of the childless families who eagerly wait to foster the young one(s) joining the family. For them, the ties based on adoption hold much value in their lives, maybe equivalent to their so-called blood ties. They show acceptance for the child and are determined to support and encourage the young one(s) at every step.

On the other hand, words such as repudiation, rejection and denial are opposite in meaning to the word 'adoption'. Thus the words that go against the meaning of adoption also go against the beauty of the process. In fact, these antonyms portray the problems and complications that make the process so intricate.

Parents may face situations whereby there is rejection from the child. This happens in cases where the child is either a grown up who understands that he has to face a new set of people or when parents hide the fact from the child.

Rejection can be from other family members, too, who may not treat the child equally. Besides this, several psychological problems may arise such as denial on the part of the child. Problems may also be associated with the age of the child as well as the circumstances under which adoption took place. The child may also develop feelings of hatred for his parents when he comes to know about it. This hatred may be either for the real parents or the ones who adopted him/her. This leaves the child depressed and helpless.

Coping with the situation

Guidelines for parents

Provide the child a congenial environment. Deal with the child sensitively and avoid hiding the fact. The case mentioned in the beginning is a good example of the after-effects of concealing the fact. A leading magazine in an interview with actress Sushmita Sen beautifully described the way she raised her adopted child.

One striking feature was her way of telling the child that she was not her biological parent. She told the little girl that the child comes from 'mama's heart'. Nothing else could so beautifully express the relationship that the two share. The child should be raised normally. Avoid pampering the child. Treat the child equivalent to other normal children. Don't let adoption be a handicap in your normal relationship and the child's upbringing.

Guidelines for children

Depending on the circumstances, your problems would vary. Whatever be the situation, share everything openly. Do not jump to any conclusions. There may be cases where you have been told the truth and you have accepted the family as yours. So your problems might be different.

In other cases, you might have been traumatized just because you came to know about your adoption much later. Do not panic or over-react. The situation might demand adverse reactions, but calm down and think rationally. Just one bitter reality that your parents adopted you does not mean that you start ignoring other things. Look back and analyze everything.

Thus sensible parenting coupled with right attitude of parents and children can help in making adoption a smooth and pleasant process.
The writer is a Chandigarh-based psychologist
Marriage encounter
  By Ucan  
  FROM his early days, Aquinas Fernando had always wanted his own way in dealing with others. This behavior continued into his married life and strained relations with his wife.

"When things were not done my way, I would get angry and scold my wife. Sometimes I wouldn't talk to her for days," Fernando, now 50, told UCA News.

His passion for movies too affected their relationship as he used to watch TV late into the night.

However, after attending the Church-run Marriage Encounter (ME) program 14 years ago, Fernando said he came to realize how his behavior had hurt his family.

"Gradually I realized my mistakes, how I had hurt the feelings of my wife, how she had felt lonely while I was enjoying films," said Fernando, who has a grownup son. "I'm a changed person now and we lead a happy family life."

Today, Fernando and his wife Rose are facilitators in the ME program, and often speak to other couples on the importance of dialogue in family life.

The Worldwide Marriage Encounter movement, which started in Spain and came to Sri Lanka in 1976, aims at helping married couples strengthen communication and understanding.

Dialogue 'key' to good relationship

This is done through weekend live-in sessions.

At present, 22 couples and five priests run the program, says Fernando. He and his wife are presently the National Coordinating Couple for ME in Sri Lanka.

The movement held a special training session for couple facilitators on April 10 at Nainamadama, north of Colombo on April 10.

For a marriage to be happy and successful, a couple needs to communicate not only on the intellectual level but also at the intimate level, Father Jude Nicholas Fernando told participants.

The key to a deeper relationship is dialogue, said the national coordinator priest for ME in Sri Lanka.

Ten couples and two priests attended the program.

Father Fernando told UCA News that "deeper dialogue is the need of the hour since the institution of marriage is crumbling in the world."

Today in his diocese thousands of people are working abroad. This presents problems for spouses who live apart from one another and is a cause of couples breaking up, he said.

Sarath Wickramathunga, who took part in the program with his wife Leona, told UCA News the program taught him many things.

"We should be humble before the other person. God has a dream for everyone. He has a dream for us to be the best couple. We can understand that dream through deeper dialogue."

ME is presently active in many countries in Asia.
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