Sunday, May 19, 2013

Wasn’t Jesus only in His 30ies?

Leadership not for Aged!

     Leadership is not lording or bossing but serving, nor pushing from behind but pulling from front, with the magnetism of a life of vision & conviction lived with full vigour, intensely, fervently, deeply, totally, passionately, bravely, even risking one’s life for achieving the goal as Jesus did.      
     Dr. James Kottoor

  Isn’t it simply outrageous and ridiculous, to suggest that those in their thirties should be catapult into leadership roles in religion and politics, just because some exceptional figures  like  Jesus or  Alexander the great in that age bracket became world celebrities? Thus ask some concerned well-intentioned critiques.
“Ab esse ad posse, valet illatio, ab posse ad esse non valet”, is a universally accepted Latin maxim. It means: If something has happened, it is certain to happen again. But just because something is possible, it does not follow it will necessarily happen. In the case of Jesus he also said: “I have given you an example” to be duplicated, nay even to do greater things than he did. If so what should be the response of those who proclaim Jesus as the “Non-negotiable” role model in all aspects of their life? That is the moot question.
A few others who shot themselves into pinnacles of achievement in their thirties are Adi Sankara, Vivekananda, Ramanuja, Martin Luther King, Sanjay Gandhi and many more according to Wikipedia and other research websites.
Quality matters, not Quantity
When someone said Sanjay died an immature death at 33 Vinoba Bhave was reported to have said: “Absolutely wrong, he was more mature than Moraji Desai” according to OSHO online library. “Living long life means nothing. Meaning comes from intensity. It is a question of quality, not quantity. How long you live makes no difference. How you live, how deeply, how totally, how intensely, how passionately – everything depends on that. And he (Sanjay) certainly lived totally, intensely, passionately and he risked everything for It.; he was not in any way a coward,” is the explanation given.
Of course performance of individuals in their thirties can be discussed endlessly without arriving at a convincing conclusion. But what about Jesus, especially for Christians? Is not what is said of Sanjay, literally true of Jesus? Followers of Jesus today may not have any difficulty to agree with it.  But then see how   the highly placed and supposed to be enlightened contemporaries of Jesus in religion and politics reacted to him? Did they give him a blanket approval? Not at all! They looked upon him with suspicion.  Hence they  stamped  him as immature,  radical, rabble rouser, friend of drunkards and prostitutes, nay even insane(“out of his mind”) by the powerful opinion makers of his time. Was not creation of such a vociferous public opinion   responsible for his crucifixion and death?

Now suppose, some one in his thirties appears today on the religious and political horizon and start saying and doing things Jesus did.  Will he ever have a chance to get a better treatment? Or just think of Christ himself revisiting his church today! A much better mind than mine thought of it long ago and that is the famous parable in Dostoyevsky’s novel: Brothers Karamazove (1879-1880) where Ivan and Alyosha a novice monk are presented in the roles of the Grand Inquisitor and Jesus.
Grand Inquisitor of Dostoyevsky
According to the parable it was during the time of Inquisition that Christ came back to earth in Sevile, Spain and did a number of miracles like the ones narrated in the Gospels. People recognised him instantly and went berserk and hysteric to worship him. The inquisition leaders smelt instant threat to their thrones. So they arrested him immediately and sentenced him to be burned at the stakes the next day.
But  before doing that, the Grand Inquisitor visited Christ stealthily in his cell and tells him, not to shake the boat, not to incite the mob,  and explains how  the Church knows better, nay how it has been quite  safe and secure under his  efficient rule and advises him to return to heaven speedily as the Church does not need him any longer.
In the secret talk the Grand Inquisitor, explains how Jesus in his life time made a fool of himself by resisting the three temptations of the devil in the desert with human cravings for food, power and world dominion.  Had Jesus succumbed to those temptations he would have had abundance in all food delicacies, all sorts of glittering power and become king and emperor of the whole world. Worse still Jesus did the blunder of giving such freedoms to resist temptations of the devil to his followers and the mass of humanity, totally immature and incapable of handling such freedoms.
What the Catholic church does instead under the Grand Inquisitor and his minions is to deny all such freedoms to the masses or rather take all decisions for the people by keeping them ignorant and suffering but happy with the hope of the  promised  heaven after life. In short he says: "Anyone who can appease a man's conscience can take his freedom away from him."

All through the long lecture Christ opens not his mouth to utter even a word. At the end instead of answering Jesus simply kisses the Inquisitor on his “bloodless, aged lips" At this the Inquisitor releases Christ but tells him never to return. Christ, still silent, leaves into "the dark alleys of the city," of Sevil.
       The dramatis personae in this parable, as mentioned above, are Ivan the Grand Inquisitor and Alyosha in the role of Christ. Now Ivan asks his brother: “Do you now denounce me for my views?” Alyosha responds by giving Ivan a soft kiss on his lips, to which the delighted Ivan replies: "That's plagiarism... Thank you though." The brothers part soon afterward. The moral of the parable is clear and you readers may react with silence or a plagiaristic kiss of peace to the one who condemns you for your expressed or suppressed freedom of expression. (For more see Grand Inquisitor, in Wikipedia)
Non-negotiable Role Model
To come back to where we started, what is the main issue under discussion? It is leadership of Jesus the “Non-negotiable” role model presented for his followers in the church. The example he set for leaders, if taken literally, is that they should be in their thirties age-wise; the prime of youth and its length should not be more than three years.  The greatest leader is the one who has the greatest capacity to serve and inspires others to be a leader like him. Any one can be a great leader because everyone can serve. You don’t need a college degree for it, only a heart full of grace, as Martin Luther King said.

So just think of a Pope or other leaders in the church like bishops and parish priests in their thirties and just for three years only to perform all what they plan to do during their short tenure. In an utter condescension to all sorts of human frailties we may show double generosity, allowing entry to leadership posts to those who are in their forties also, and for a period of not  just three but six years to perform or perish. What about those who ask for further concession? To me, it is better to dispense with such leaders for any office. Those who can’t perform in three or six years, it is better for them to be followers, not leaders.
Indian Wisdom Suggests
It is in this context that the division of human life into four Ashrams (Stages of life) – Bhrahamacharya (Celibate student life 8-18), Grihasta (Family social life18-40), Vanaprasta (Retirement from family life 40-65) and Sannyasa (Life of total renunciation 65-death) -- of Hindu sastras or vision of life from cradle to grave becomes relevant as a guiding principle. The most productive years of human life to enrich oneself and others are those when one has the greatest amount of get-up and go which starts in one’s thirties (Grihasta) and reaches the pinnacle around sixty which  is considered the retirement age  as the years there after are considered  one’s declining years.
If this is true, is it not simply ridiculous to thrust top leadership roles on those who are already in their Sanyasa years of seventies. Unfortunately this is what often happens in religious and political circles. Wisdom, grace, maturity, competence and capacity to lead are generally associated with the elderly experienced people. What they often lack are speed, energy, courage and boldness to take risks.  A dynamic leader needs both streams of qualities. That is why they are exceptional or a rare species. So one has to look around to find them, if organised community life has to become constructive, productive and challenging.

Today one of the explosive threats faced by city states and global community is the widening disconnect between the soaring aspirations of the youthful majority seeking quick solutions and the inability or all too slow response of the weak kneed and inefficient elderly who are at the helm of affairs, all because of their age rather than their expertise. A minute study of tensions and tug of wars going on in various aspects of life in India, I believe, should amply demonstrate this truth. According to UN-HABITAT report, by 2020 India would be the youngest nation on earth with the medium age as 29.

This gives added emphasis to the relevance of youthful model of leadership provided by Jesus for our own times and India in particular. Of course it was not relevant or acceptable in Jesus’ own time and it will not be acceptable in our own time as well for two reasons: 1. The mass of humanity, as the Grand Inquisitor observes is either incapable or averse to handling human freedoms aright. 2. As a corollary, so to say, you have to be crucified before you are canonised, as it happened even in the case of Jesus. So where are those who are ready to take up their crosses and do the uphill task of marching up to the top of Calvary?  Let them – and they alone – step forward to take up leadership roles, whether in religion or politics. Hence also the unmistakable call of Jesus to his followers: “Take up your cross and follow me.”
Pope Francis Shows  the Way
Pope Francis is setting an example in this direction with his high thinking and simple living, with his readiness to tread the dusty roads of history which started for him in the dirty streets of Buenos Aires’s slums of the poor called Villas of Misery (villas miserias). He did not go there in German made bullet proof cars as some of our bishops do but on foot. He had told his priests not just go and visit these shanty towns and come back to rest in comfortable presbyteries, but to live with the people amidst the sweat, dirt and squalor of the slums.
Even after becoming Pope he  flaunts his aversion to  palatial surroundings in Vatican,  with his pronouncements like “Carnival time is over”; the church of the Sacristy must end;  get out, get out of the Sacristy to be one with the down trodden, because inequality is the biggest sin crying to heaven for retribution; what is to be condemned is “careerists and social climbers” among clergy and
clericalism strutting about saying “I am the boss”; what is needed is not commanding and bossing leaders but listening and serving selfless people, washing the feet of sinners (drug addicts, aids patients) and outcasts including women of all faiths or no faith.
In another month July Francis will be heading for the World Youth Festival in Brazil, which will be his first foreign tour. Will it be for a symbolic sharing or handing over of the leadership torch in the Church from the 76 year old young at heart Francis to the REAL youth of the world?  It is time for day dreaming about YOUTH LEADERSHIP in the Church. May be Jesus is revisiting his church in the person of Francis Pope to liberate it from the clutches of the descendents of the Grand Inquisitor and his minions. If so we may look forward to an ecclesial spring time, but of course not without carrying the cross and undergoing daily crucifixion.
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  1. ഡോ. ജെയിംസ് കോട്ടൂര്‍ പുതിയ പുതിയ ചിന്തകള്‍ നമ്മുടെ മുമ്പിലേക്ക് എടുത്തെറിയുന്നു. ഒറ്റ നോട്ടത്തില്‍ വളരെ പ്രസക്തമെന്നു തോന്നുമെങ്കിലും പൂര്ണ്ണമായും ഞാന്‍ ഇതിനോട് യോജിക്കുന്നില്ല. യുവത്വത്തിന്‍റെ തിളപ്പിലാണ് ഭൌതിക കാര്യങ്ങള്‍ ഏറ്റവും വേഗത്തിലും മികവിലും നടപ്പാക്കാന്‍ കഴിയുന്നതെന്ന് പറയുന്നതില്‍ കഴമ്പുണ്ട്. പക്ഷേ, വിവേകം എന്ന സിദ്ധി ജ്വലിക്കുന്നത് വാര്ദ്ധക്യത്തിലാണെന്നത് അവഗണിച്ചുകൊണ്ട് യുവത്വത്തിനു ഈ വേണ്ടിയുള്ള മുറവിളി കാണാനും പാടില്ല. യേശു വന്നത് അജ്ഞതയുടെ മറവില്‍ നിന്ന് മാനവകുലത്തെ സത്യത്തിലേക്ക് നടത്തുക എന്ന ഒരു ദൈവിക ലക്ഷ്യത്തിനു വേണ്ടിയാണെന്ന് പറഞ്ഞാല്‍ ആരും തര്ക്കിക്കാന്‍ ഇടയില്ല. നാം ചെയ്യേണ്ടത് യേശുവിന്‍റെ ദൌത്യം സാക്ഷ്യപ്പെടുത്തുകയെന്നതുമാണ്. അത് എങ്ങിനെ ചെയ്യുന്നുവെന്നതിനെ അടിസ്ഥാനമാക്കിയേ ഏതു പ്രായത്തിലുള്ളവരാണ് നേതൃ സ്ഥാനത്തു എത്തേണ്ടതെന്നു നിശ്ചയിക്കാനാവൂ.

    ഏതാനും ആഴ്ചകള്ക്ക് മുമ്പു ഡോ. ജെയിംസ് കൊട്ടൂരും ഞാനുമൊക്കെ ഉണ്ടായിരുന്ന ഒരു ചര്ച്ചാ വേദിയില്‍ തലങ്ങും വിലങ്ങും അപഗ്രഥിച്ച ഒരു വിഷയമാണ്, സത്യത്തിനു വേണ്ടി യേശുവിനെപ്പോലെ ജീവിക്കുന്ന ഒരാള്ക്ക് ‌ എത്രകാലം ഭൂമിയില്‍ ആയിരിക്കാന്‍ കഴിയുമെന്നത്. ഏറിയാല്‍ രണ്ടു വര്ഷം എന്നാണു ഭൂരിപക്ഷം പേരും അഭിപ്രായപ്പെട്ടത്.

    യുവത്വം തീരുമ്പോള്‍ ഒരാള്ക്കുണ്ടാവുന്ന തിരിച്ചറിവില്‍, സ്വന്തം നിലനില്പ്പും കൂടി പരിഗണിക്കാനുള്ള ഒരു ത്വര കാണാറുണ്ട്‌, അത് സത്യത്തില്‍ മായം ചേര്ക്കലുമാണ്. ഇതായിരിക്കാം യുവത്വത്തില്‍ മാത്രമേ ശുദ്ധമായ പോരാട്ടം നടക്കൂവെന്നു ഡോ. കോട്ടൂര്‍ പറയാന്‍ കാരണം. ആ അര്ത്ഥത്തില്‍ അത് ശരിയുമാണ്. കാരണം യേശുവിന്‍റെ വചനങ്ങളില്‍ ഒഴിവു കഴിവുകള്ക്ക് സ്ഥാനം ഇല്ല - സത്യത്തിന് ഒരേയൊരു മുഖമെയുള്ളൂ, വചനങ്ങള്ക്ക് ഒരെയോരര്ത്ഥമേയുള്ളൂ.
    ഡോ. കൊട്ടൂരിന്‍റെ ലേഖനത്തില്‍ കാണുന്ന ഒരു പോരായ്മ യേശുവിന്‍റെ ശിക്ഷ്യന്മാര്ക്ക് ഒരു നേതൃത്വം ഉണ്ടായിരിക്കണം എന്നത് നിര്‍ബന്ധമാണ്‌ എന്നുള്ള ധ്വനിയാണ്. അതിനെ ഞാന്‍ അങ്ങേയറ്റം എതിര്ക്കുന്നു. ഒരു ഭൌതിക നേതൃത്വത്തിന് ഒരിക്കലും ഒരാളെയും നേര്‍ വഴിയില്‍ കൊണ്ടുപോകാന്‍ ആവില്ല. കൂട്ടായ്മ വ്യക്തിയില്‍ വിശ്വാസ തീഷ്ണത ജനിപ്പിക്കാനും അത് വളര്ത്താ നും, അതിനെ ശരിയായി നിലനിര്ത്താനും ഉള്ളതാവണം. ആധുനിക കൂട്ടായ്മകള്‍ അതിനു വേണ്ടി ജന്മമെടുത്തതോ, ആ രീതിയില്‍ നിലനില്ക്കു ന്നതോയല്ല. അതുകൊണ്ട് തന്നെ ഇന്നത്തെ കത്തോലിക്കാ സഭ, നേതൃത്വം മാറിയത് കൊണ്ട് രക്ഷപ്പെടുമെന്നും ഞാന്‍ കരുതുന്നില്ല. സത്യത്തെ തിരിച്ചറിഞ്ഞ ഒരാളും തന്‍റെ അനുഗാമികളെയും കൊണ്ടല്ല ജീവിതം മുഴുവന്‍ സഞ്ചരിക്കുന്നത്. ഓരോരുത്തരെയും സ്വയം നടക്കാന്‍ പഠിപ്പിക്കുന്ന ഗുരുക്കന്മാരാണ് ഇവിടെ വേണ്ടത്. ശിക്ഷ്യനെ സ്വതന്ത്രനായിരിക്കാന്‍ സഹായിക്കുകയെന്നതാണ് ഒരു ഗുരുവിന്‍റെ സ്വഭാവം. ഗുരുക്കന്മാരുടെ കസേരകള്‍ ഏറെയുണ്ടെങ്കിലും ഗുരുക്കന്മാരുടെ പോരായ്മയാണ് ഇന്ന് സഭ അനുഭവിക്കുന്നു.

    യുവത്വം ഏറ്റവും കൂടുതല്‍ ഊര്ജ്ജശേഷിയുള്ള ഒരു കാലഘട്ടമാണ്. ഈ യുവത്വത്തിലൂടെ കടന്നു പോവുന്നവരെ തികഞ്ഞ മാതൃകകളായി രൂപപ്പെടുത്താന്‍ സഭക്ക് കഴിയണം; മൂക്കില്‍ പല്ല് കിളിര്ത്ത ഒരു തലമുറയ്ക്ക് അതിനൊരിക്കലും കഴിയാന്‍ പോണില്ലെന്നതു ശരിയാണ്. ഈ ലേഖനം, യുവാക്കളെ എങ്ങിനെ പോരാട്ട വീര്യമുള്ള അപ്പസ്തോലന്മാരാക്കാം എന്നുള്ള ഒരു പ്രായോഗിക സമീപനത്തെ സംബന്ധിച്ചുള്ളതായിരുന്നെങ്കില്‍ എന്ന് ഞാന്‍ ആശിക്കുന്നു.


  2. From: Joseph Kuriacose

    To: James Kottoor

    Sent: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 9:07 PM

    Subject: Re: WASN'T JESUS ONLY IN HIS 30is?

    Dear Kottoor,

    Nice thoughts. Could have left out Sanjay Gandhi. For me , he is not the kind of leader I will look for, self opinianated, rash, without any respect for life. You are welcome to disagree.

    Best wishes, kuriacose.

    ----- Original Message -----

    From: Joginder Singh IPS Retd Joginder Singh IPS Retd

    To: James Kottoor

    Sent: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 10:30 PM

    Subject: RE: WASN'T JESUS ONLY IN HIS 30is?

    Dear Sir,
    Lord Jesus was an institution in himself. It is rightly said in Punjabi that Ghar the Jogi Jogra, Bahar tha Jogi Sidh. A prophet is rarely accepted in his own place. This is what happened to four Sikh Gurus. Two of them were imprisoned and two were got killed or directly killed by the Muslim rulers of the day. I read ten pages of Bible, turn by turn with other scriptures of other religions, and the then Commandments are the basis of all laws and all religions. Lord Jesus has left a legacy for the whole mankind, though as mortals, we can never any where near him.

    With Best Wishes And Regards

    Joginder singh M.A. IPS
    Former Director CBI, India
    Flat 123 Navsansad Vihar, Plot Number, 4, Sector, 22, Dwarka New Delhi 110077
    Phone number 011- 28052742

    From: Al Dcosta

    To: James Kottoor

    Sent: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 9:26 PM

    Subject: Re:

    Somewhat heavy stuff. Had to read twice. But concentrated stuff and made sound sense. Age matters little. The empowerment counts. Today's rule in both politics and religion is high on age and low on "power from high".


    With Warm Regards,
    Dr. James Kottoor,