Standing up for what you are

Editorial, Normal

The National- Monday, February 7, 2011

 CATHOLIC adherents were yesterday read a passage from the Gospel of Mathew 5: 13-16.

The relevant verses read: “You are the salt of the earth. But, if the salt loses its flavour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men. You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.” 

Similar passages are to be paid in the Gospel of Mark 

(4: 21-23) and Luke 

(8: 16-17 and 11:33-36).

Two simple, everyday household items – salt and a candle. Yet, they are very powerful images.

Salt would not be salt if the flavour was absent. Similarly, light would have no purpose, whatsoever, if it was not allowed to shine.

Christ commands, through these parables, for men to stand up and profess their faith in front of others, to “reveal your true colours” would be the street jargon.

How true are we today to our Christian upbringing, our Papua New Guinean ways, our profession and even to our own names?

All too often, we want to be something else, to be something different.

In speech, and in the manner we behave, we try so hard to be American or Australian or some other identity but 

Papua New Guinean.

What is wrong with being Papua New Guinean? It is a beautiful country blessed with riches untold and a pristine climate. We have a proud heritage. 

As our Constitution attests, we are a proud and ancient people who have adopted and adapted to Christianity. We are free in a world where despots have made life miserable for their subjects in many nations.

PNG is an ideal paradise that others view with much jealousy and given half the chance they would be here snapping up our heritage like a shot.

It is attractive to everybody except us. That is truly tragic.

We refuse to light the Papua New Guinean lamp and stand it on a hill and let it shine. The taste has gone out of our salt.

And, as Christ predicted in his parable, we get trampled on and ignored and disrespected because we will not take pride in who we are, in our own uniqueness, in our own abilities.

The Catholic will not make the sign of the cross at a restaurant because to do so he would reveal his church identity. He is embarrassed of a very essential part of him that makes him unique – his catholic-ness. 

How many times do we try not to stand out in a crowd, to blend in with the masses rather than be shine out in a crowd? 

To be singled out requires attention and we try to avoid drawing attention to ourselves. In that we condemn ourselves to a life time of obscurity and smallness.

To stand out among men you have to have the conviction and the courage to stand up for what is right before God and before the law.

We cannot be faint-hearted about what is right. We have to profess our Christianity everywhere. We have to profess our Papua New Guinean-ness everywhere. We have to stand up against corruption and theft and maladministration.

All too often the person will leave corrective action until it is much too late. In our profession, we come daily into contact with the sacked or discharged or retiring public servant who trek to our offices and reveal all and sundry about some corruption in the offices they just left.

Quite suddenly, the public servant develops a guilty conscience and wants to set everything right by revealing all. Unfortunately, it comes too late. Often, it appears as if the person is sour-grapping about his removal. We ignore them.

The time for action would have been when he or she was in the office. Speaking out would probably be against the rules and would make the person less popular but it is the right thing to do. In the end as Christ also said you might be censured but it will in no way harm you where it matters – in your conscience – and you will gain much respect for your firmness.

If through fear you give up and remain silent you will suffer much in the one thing you can not shut out and shut up – you wake up with it and go to bed with it: your conscience. In the end, your conscience will kill you.

By standing up for your faith and nation, and your own uniqueness, you become the light of the world that Christ talked about.