Covid has turned my heart towards the poor once again. Poverty is not just a material issue. It is a choice issue. The wealthy have options, by definition. They can choose to be vaccinated, or not to be — while so many among the poor just keep waiting for a vaccine, a second vaccine and a booster. Throw in corruption, inequality, misinformation and the poor are at such a disadvantage.
But there is a relativism about poverty, isn't there? While every country has the poor among them, we need to be reminded that there is poverty and then there is ... poverty. Followers of Jesus are called to wear bi-focals on their hearts, responding to the near & the local, without erasing the distant & the global. To help me with the latter, I've been watching again the films of my friend, Peter.
The Voiceless [8 min] follows the progress of a 50 rupee note ($1).
The story fits right into Ecclesiastes 3 & 4, a collection of horrible things that the writer "saw" (3.16; 4.1; 4.4; 4.7). The fake note travels among street vendors and metro students, day labourers and property developers, waiters and corporates in restaurants. It will always end up in the hands of the poor and the powerless, who are forced to feed their family from their daily wage. They will be the ones who can't dump the note on anyone else.
Stolen prayers [3 min] speaks into the challenge of lockdowns for migrants.
A Mother's Dilemma [3 min] engages the issues around the gender of her babies.
"It is what it is" is a phrase I've heard a lot since returning to Aotearoa-New Zealand. I'm still trying to exegete it! It doesn't appear to have much to do with the providence and sovereignty of God — rather, it suggests a lethargy that freezes us in a shrug-the-shoulders inactivity.
That will not cut it with poverty.
It doesn't need to be what it is.
It starts with me — and you! After growing up in India, Barby and I returned to live there, almost 40 years later. Early on, we were jolted by some words from Ajith Fernando (not for the first, or last, time — link here). I felt ashamed of the attitudes from my childhood. We decided to live differently. Then, on return to living in 'the West' last year, it has been troubling to see how easily people erase the poor from their minds, especially in these covidian times (link here).
I guess it is a bit more of 'it is what it is'.
But back to Peter...
He and his team are focused on launching the Edupier Project in 2022, pitched at developing value/moral/life-skill education for school children in India (see here and here and here, for some examples). A mission in itself, but also a way of becoming more sustainable for other projects, like the work with Revelation Bay Productions.
When I wrote to Peter this week, asking permisssion to post these films, he sent me other ones done by students in workshops, some of which will make their way into the Values Education project.
Humanity has No Gender [5 minutes]
Acid Attacks [2 minutes], in the Tamil language
Unheard [5 minutes], on human trafficking
The poor at Christmas?
"That is a bit Grinch-y, isn't it, Paul?"
There's plenty of poverty in Luke chapter 1, isn't there?
Mary & Joseph, Elizabeth & Zechariah are not that far from these films, are they?
PS: Here is an additional video that goes 'behind the scenes' with Stolen Prayers (above).