Taking My Cape Off

Long have I been putting this off. And after so many months and rewriting, I now know what to write about.

Let me share with you how this post would have been, what it was supposed to be if it wasn’t for tonight.

This post would have been a ranting on the similarities between Superman and I. It would have been how we both have great responsibilities to carry and expectations to fulfill. It would have been how we both want to take risks and make mistakes without others looking down on us. That our power (or authority) has given us the image of someone who can never fail, someone set apart from others. And yet what we both want to be is like others, to belong, to not be seen as another.

The heck this guy is talking about?

Long story short, I’m talking about my leadership.

I’ve been struggling in it for a very long time. But I’ve done nothing significant to tackle the problem but pray, pray and pray. (For the record, I’m a religious youth group member. And a life of hypocrisy and dishonesty has mainly contributed to my struggle.) I’ve come to a point where I couldn’t lead anymore, that the group needed someone more competent than me.

But behind it all, I merely wanted to be a member again, to sit and listen to someone I think I can trust. I couldn’t see myself in that ‘someone’ anymore. Because I couldn’t trust myself.

But here’s the amazing thing that happened to me. And this is what this post is now all about.

God answered my prayer.

Three weeks ago, my sister and I decided to man up and attend one of the parish youth meetings. It was recently re-initiated by some of the parish youths and the newly ordained priest. It has a pretty decent number of members but I wasn’t expecting much from it.

I expected it to be all fun and games with little substance, people gathered in their own mini-groups, reluctant to contribute in any discussions or sharing. I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t work out in the end, like the previous youth group.

But the desire to be like others stuck. Tonight, it was my second meeting with the parish youths and I can happily say that… you know… I might be wrong about all that. Sure, they might be a bit too restless and noisy for a youth group, but they do have an enthusiasm and willingness to share that is admirable. They might contribute to discussions with simple answers and naivety, but I was completely humbled when they fearlessly open their hearts and shared their stories.

But what I’m more happy about is that I felt that I was part of all that, that I wasn’t facilitating the discussions or supervising the members. The things I’ve said weren’t treated differently from others. Yeah sure, I still feel out of place and left out but isn’t that the beauty of being a member?

Uncertainty is expected, not avoided, which very well takes the burden of needing to know and plan everything off my shoulder. Everyone has yet to make a solid impression of you. I am given the chance to trust someone else. I don’t have to rely on my resources and talents. Because I now have my leader.

At the same time, I would have someone to be on equal grounds with. I would be sharing experiences in leadership with the parish youth leaders. Though I would rather prefer to stay as a member in the group, I would like to be accountable for each other. I would like them to feel that leadership is not a one-man’s job. Superman has his Justice League.

However, I reckon this is only just a part of God’s majestic plan. Maybe. Maybe not. Like how Superman was on a hiatus from his usual hero job by sleeping in the sun, I too feel like I’m taking my cape off for a while to better prepare myself for a bigger calling.

And what could that calling might be, I wonder.

God bless.

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Death Makes a Better Man (Mini-series on capital punishment)

I’m sniffing and holding back my tears, and turned to the side and see my sister’s swollen eyes transfixed on the screen. I may be tearless but I’m crying my hearts out inside, watching the tragic moments unfold before my eyes.

The Australia drama mini-series is called Better Man. Surprisingly, it’s only two parts long, but delivered one heck of a story! It is based on a true story about a 20-year old Australian-Vietnamese boy named ‘Van’, who went to extreme means to lift his family from a financial pit. Unfortunately, he was caught, convicted of drug trafficking in Singapore and sentenced to death. Ultimately, it is a story of faith, love and hope.

The success of this film is due to its capacity to provoke a dialogue with the public. If it wasn’t for this film, I would still have been one of those who will readily condemn any person painted as a drug trafficker in the media without being properly informed about the convicted (“He deserves it!”). A lot of issues are touched in the film but the main one is capital punishment. I am ashamed to say that this is what prompted me to challenge the concept of capital punishment, and not from my belief in the sanctity of every human life.

I have made some strong personal connections with Van, sharing values and characteristics in him that portrays the essence of youth… and youth cut short. Some of my views on Singapore has been disturbed, where before I longed viewed Singapore as a morally righteous and just country. Scenes in my head keep playing on rewind, changing crucial moments for the better. I’ve gained renewed hope for people who work for the greater good and not for personal gain, like the lawyers who took the daunting task of defending Van. I feel that after watching Better Man, I learned that I have a responsibility to better inform myself than rushing into an opinion.

Source: The Daily Telegraph, Australia

I beg you to watch the episodes here while you still can. And I hope that at the end of it, not only are you crying or feeling upset but also thinking for yourself, asking yourself where you stand when it comes to integrity in the media and justice system.

http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/38541379812/Better-Man-Part-1

These are some of what went through my mind after watching Better Man:

Is capital punishment, sentencing death upon a person, fair? Are there certain criminal offences that are more deserving of death? Is drug trafficking equivalent to murder? Why? If wrongly convicted, does capital punishment fail to serve as a deterrent and why? Or does that effectively highlight the fallibility of or possibility of corruption in the justice system in expense of a life? Do you immediately believe that one deserves a particular punishment, even death, only after knowing what one is convicted for without background knowledge of the convicted? Do people who have opposing opinions on a matter, case or issue make you uncomfortable, as if they are forcing their opinions on you? Do majority of the people around you share the same opinions? Are you ready to oppose them when your values are challenged?

What are yours?