Friday, January 24, 2014

Arvind Kejriwal the 'Sweeper' and Jesus The Servant

Here is a picture of Arvind Kejriwal symbolically using the Aam Aadmi Party symbol, the broom.

This picture is from an article that appeared in The Hindu newspaper, when the symbol was launched. Arvind Kejriwal has got nothing to do with sweeping a road, yet for the sake of publicity, here in this picture he is wielding a broom, symbolizing the cleansing of politics.

Looking at this image I am reminded of an event described in The Bible, where Jesus washed his disciples feet. This account can be found in John 13:3-17.

3-6 Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron. When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, “Master, youwash my feet?”
Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.”
Peter persisted, “You’re not going to wash my feet—ever!”
Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.”
“Master!” said Peter. “Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!”
10-12 Jesus said, “If you’ve had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you’re clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. So now you’re clean. But not every one of you.” (He knew who was betraying him. That’s why he said, “Not every one of you.”) After he had finished washing their feet, he took his robe, put it back on, and went back to his place at the table.
12-17 Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.

There is something that is basically contrasting between the two events. Arvind Kejriwal was launching the party symbol in the early days of the party. In the case of Jesus, when his earthly mission was complete, he taught his disciples to carry on from him. Just like what we see in all organizations, including political parties, there is always a struggle to gain more benefits. This was true in Jesus' disciples described in Matthew 20:20-28.

20 It was about that time that the mother of the Zebedee brothers came with her two sons and knelt before Jesus with a request.
21 “What do you want?” Jesus asked.
She said, “Give your word that these two sons of mine will be awarded the highest places of honor in your kingdom, one at your right hand, one at your left hand.”
22 Jesus responded, “You have no idea what you’re asking.” And he said to James and John, “Are you capable of drinking the cup that I’m about to drink?”
They said, “Sure, why not?”
23 Jesus said, “Come to think of it, you are going to drink my cup. But as to awarding places of honor, that’s not my business. My Father is taking care of that.”
24-28 When the ten others heard about this, they lost their tempers, thoroughly disgusted with the two brothers. So Jesus got them together to settle things down. He said, “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.”

The basic message of Jesus here is that of serving one another and not of lording over one another. It was this message of Jesus that made Aam Aadmi Party appealing to me, as Arvind Kejriwal claimed himself to be an ordinary person aspiring to serve the aam aadmi by eliminating corruption.

After seeing many events of the Aam Aadmi Party, I don't think that they are about serving one another any more. It has become lording over one another. Some popular examples are Arvind Kejriwal verses Home Minister Shinde and the Delhi Law Minister verses Delhi Police. Now the message is, I am the khas aadmi (Minister) not the aam aadmi any more, and others are there to serve me.

Mother Theresa is one of the well known persons in India who followed the teachings of Jesus and took upon her the task of serving one another. There are many others throughout the world who have been inspired by the teachings of Jesus and serve those around them, more often unknown to the world, except to the few that are around them. They are not leaders, but true servants.

That reminds me of what The Bible says about lesson from the ant in Proverbs 6:6-11.

6-11 You lazy fool, look at an ant.
    Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two.
Nobody has to tell it what to do.
    All summer it stores up food;
    at harvest it stockpiles provisions.
So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing?
    How long before you get out of bed?
A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there,
    sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next?
Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life,
    poverty your permanent houseguest!

Update on 3rd February, 2014

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