Sunday, 30 October 2016

Midlife crisis?

In life, you will come to a crossroad, eventually. You will be looking back at where you stand, with marriage, career, family and religion in tow, and ask yourself: "Is that all?"

Some may call this a midlife crisis. Others may call it the wilderness experience. Still others may just want to quietly wallow in it without labeling it. They have essentially resigned to the stalemate as they live their life on autopilot.

I had a few of these moments when I looked back and asked, "Is that all?", "Am I happy?”, "What is life about?" and "To what end?" I then counted my blessings thus far like career, marriage, and children, and I think to myself, "Can I do better?" "Am I satisfied?" and "What's holding me back?"

If anything, I fall under the majority category of the "just getting by" or the "wishing there is more" or the "hoping for a break".

But then, one morning on my way to work, I realized that my crossroad is not a dead-end, not a cul-de-sac. My midlife is not a crisis. It is on the contrary a gentle reminder, a call to celebrate life - not dread it. There is indeed more to life, and my questioning of it is really normal, expected even. In other words, my journey is not done yet as the saying goes, “In the end, it will be okay. If it's not okay, it's not the end.

However, what is not normal is this: I fall into the trap of magical thinking. We are all guilty of it one way or the other. Magical thinking expects magical things to happen in our life. It is easy to spot it.

In a marriage, magical thinking expects that everything will fall into place sooner rather than later. It psyches us up for a relationship that will not disappointment. Once the vows are exchanged, the work is done, the pursuit is over, the relationship will just gather momentum, and we can rest on our laurels.

But that will not happen. Our expectation will be crushed sooner or later. Things don't just fall into place in a marriage. Marriage is hard work. There will be disappointment – some are even heart wrenching. There will be second thoughts just when you thought you have thought it through. And there will be silent tears for freedom lost, a requiem for a youth forgotten, and a soft mourning for dreams that could have been.

And when the children comes, trust me, some of their shit will hit the fan. Your worries are endless, at least it seems that way. You worry about their growth and health, their school and their next hell, and their life and well-being.

Next comes career. The magical thinking here is to expect to score big in your job. Like parting of the red sea, we expect all obstacles will part for us. We expect our bosses to somehow like us. We expect promotion to come like day follows night. We expect not only to make ends meet, but to have enough to run it a few rounds over.

But marriage and career don't bend over backwards for us. They are not fairy tales that comes with a happy-ever-after ending. Just like religion and our faith, going to church, serving a ministry and going for a short mission trip to evangelise in remote villages don't automatically translate into a more meaningful and fulfilling life.

What makes magical thinking a misleading notion is how we busily chase one rabbit hole after another without taking the time to go deep into each venture or engagement. It is essentially a-mile-wide and an-inch-deep mentality.

We rush from one goal to another - be it marriage, career choices and starting a family, even joining a ministry in church - without allowing ourselves to be transformed by them in meaningful ways.

Take a marriage for example. A marital relationship takes a lifetime to nurture, but we get bored after the first few years. At first, everything seems exciting. But subsequently, we are looking for new thrills. Magical thinking will not tolerate repeated disappointments.

But the disappointments are not the result of loving the same person. It is the result of our failing to develop that love, that connection. Indeed, we do not need multiple new relationships to fill our days. We just need to find new ways to enjoy that one relationship in order to deepen the connection.

Likewise at work, wherever we are, know that we are making a difference. We are a witness in the public square. Our words and conduct count. They are like seeds planted in the hearts of our colleagues, clients and bosses, which will bloom in due season. And we grow when we meet challenges with fortitude and resilience.

Of course there will be days when we feel like throwing in the towel. We need to admit that, recalibrate, renew the passion, and persevere forward. Time and tide may wait for no man, but over time, our industry will pay off. Eventually, we will overcome even the strongest of tides. In the end, all will be okay.

This brings me to this so-called midlife crisis. As I have said earlier, it is a call to celebrate life. To celebrate where we have arrived so far, the distance travelled, and to map out where we will be going.  

In the beginning years, we may be looking for a footing in our career. So be it. We will have to burn the midnight oil, stay late, and work hard. That's expected.

But there will come a time, and we owe it to ourselves to identify that crossroad, where the focus will have to change. We will still have to support the family with bills to pay and mouths to feed. But the main draw for living is not in the acquisition of things, title or fame, but in redirecting most of our effort inward. It is in connecting with things beyond this world, that is, a metanarrative that is spiritual, faith-inspired and non-materialistic.

From the tangible to the intangible, from the material to the inspirational, and from the pursuit of things to the seeking of significance or meaning, our journey is a growth process where we let go of one goal to embrace another, where we make choices that expand our estate to making choices that deepen our relationships, character and our search for the meaning of life. 

Let me end with the unassuming life of the priestly leader Samuel. He was born from the earnest travailing of his loving but barren mother, Hannah. God honored her prayers and she in turn dedicated his life to Him.

Samuel lived in quiet submission to God's calling, interceding and standing in the gap for the people.  But his life was earmarked by four major events - three of which would end up to be heartbreaking for him.

As a boy, his mother gave him over to be trained under the prophet Eli. He started with opening doors and sweeping floors. As such, he must have seen the deeds of Eli's two sons at the gates where they abused their power and seduced women assisting at the entrance of the Tabernacle.

One day, God told Samuel to confront his mentor Eli about his two wayward sons. Although Eli rebuked them, they did not change. But Samuel nevertheless respected and deferred to his mentor, and continued to serve faithfully in the place where he was called.

After Eli and his sons passed away, Samuel was the next in line. But his people rejected his leadership and asked for a king to rule over them. One of the reasons for rejecting Samuel was that his own two sons were corrupt and they did not want to come under their subsequent rule. This must be devastating for Samuel. Imagine your own unwavering faithfulness was lost on your sons. This was to be his second heartbreak.

Directed by God, Samuel then chose Saul who was described in 1 Samuel as impressive and a head taller than others. Appearance definitely played a part in the choice. But like Eli's sons and his own, king Saul turned out to be a disappointment. He too disobeyed God and this time, God rejected Saul. Samuel was then told to anoint another king. He was further told to look beyond appearance and into one's heart.

Imagine that the king that you have groomed and loved turning against you like your own sons. This was to be Samuel’s third and final heartbreak.

His last act of faith was to enter Jesse's household to anoint the future king. Out of Jesse’s eight children, God led him to pick a shepherd boy, the youngest and the less promising of the lot.

Alas, Samuel did not live long enough to see the fruits of his labor and faithfulness. But after three major disappointments, King David  turned out to be a king after God's own heart.  He would unite Israel, prosper her and set a lineage path to Calvary to usher in the one whose kingdom is not of this world. It would be a kingship of the heart.

Samuel’s life taught me one thing about the many crossroads of our life. Every one of his was a failure or a betrayal of some sort. Eli’s sons, his own and his handpicked protégée broke his heart repeatedly.

Yet, Samuel kept the faith and hope alive. He neither murmured nor lost heart. He submitted to God, remained faithful, interceded and obeyed to the end. For in the end, I believe Samuel kept this scripture in his heart: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Alas, not every crossroad in our life comes with an explanatory note. Tragedy does not undo a man if his heart is set on eternity. His understanding may be limited, but what makes hope resilient and faith enduring is a life that looks beyond the here and now for the things eternal. Cheerz.

A doomed marriage.

Some marriages bloom while others are doomed.

In a recent judgment, HC Judge Choo made this candid observation: "With perfect lens of hindsight it is obvious that this marriage was doomed 16 years ago."

This marriage is the unfortunate union of a doctor and his clinic assistant wife. The facts are quite depressing.

ROM in March 1990. Three children born out of this union with the eldest now 23 yrs old. Everything spiraled down south in 2001, just 11 yrs after ROM.

Here is what's doomed about it. The wife filed for three divorces in 2001 (dismissed in 2005 after a full trial), in 2010 (dismissed subsequently when contested) and in 2015 (which went for another full trial), and came before Judge Choo in an appeal.

Legal technicalities aside, the union was a harvest of woes since 2001. And Judge Choo even waxed lyrical in his judgment comparing it to a parallel event in history: "Three wars were fought the day after Carthage and Rome realized that they could not live together side by side. The Punic Wars as they are known lasted more than a century from 261 BCE."

Here is what the husband alleged transpired between them in a marital Wars of the Roses.

Since 2001, the husband was charged in court on three separate occasions because his wife complained to the CPF that he did not pay her CPF contributions (while working as his nurse), that he sold medicine illegally, and that he bribed two patient to testify for him. However, the husband was also acquitted on all three occasions! Long story short, his wife's complaint did not hold water in court.

But that's not all. The wife also complained to MOH and HSA about some illegally imported medicine from Malaysia. When MOH and HSA raided the clinic, they found nothing. The wife also complained to MOE on various occasions about her husband's bubble tea business and he had to close his bubble tea shop.

She further lodged a police report about her husband forging her signature to cash a cheque, but no action was taken against the husband (as it turned out, it was in fact her own signature). In 2003, the wife also applied for an injunction to freeze his bank account, applied for enforcement of her maintenance, and garnished his bank for failing to pay her costs for a maintenance appeal.

If you think that's the end of the so called Punic Wars between them, think again. Here are further allegations by the husband.

His wife reported to the police about child abuse committed by the husband. But the investigation found no cause. In Jan 2006, the wife "had beaten one of the children so badly the child had to be treated in a hospital, but the husband pleaded with the police not to prosecute the wife."

And in July 2015, she returned home to find the gate locked. Her attempts to force open the gate agitated the family's two Rottweiler dogs "and when one of their children (then aged 7) ran out on hearing the wife's shouting, the dogs attacked the child so severely that the child's ear was bitten off."

Of course, the wife had her side of her story, but the appeal Judge noted that "in brief, the underlying facts were not denied." In fact, the wife appeared to be in denial when she said that the children are not against her. The trial judge however noted that "one of the children was found by the school counselor to be "suicidal and murderous"".

It further reports that "the husband explained that the child in question wanted to return home to kill the mother (the wife)." It is therefore not surprising that all three children testified in favor of their father against their mother.

Yet after all that, the husband asserts that they still slept together, "had dinners and walks together, and had activities with the children together."

In the end, the husband got his divorce, but on the revised ground of the wife's desertion of the family and not on his allegation of her unreasonable behavior (mainly because those alleged events happened decades ago and he, strange as it might be, still attempted reconciliation with her).

Lesson? Make no mistakes, your greatest fortune or misfortune is your spouse. He or she can make a heaven out of hell or a hell out of heaven. And if hell has no fury like a woman scorned, then heaven has no place in a marriage torn.

While the marriage vows reminded us that it is for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part, in reality, at least for some reality, emotional death as manifested in endless bitterness, recriminations and revenge comes early for some hapless couple.

Alas, a marriage can only take so much before the emotional bough breaks and the cradle of marital bliss falls.

Frankly, I have no illusions about marriage. A match may be stitched in heaven during the wedding night, but it can turn into a nightmare after the froth in the champagne glass settles.

Who are we kidding? The divorce rates are rising and some modern marriages are like a canary in the coal mine. All it takes is a whiff of one or two disappointments, expectation falling short or a better alternative looming around to knock the poor songbird off the perch.

Honestly, I do not know of the secret to a long marriage. But I am quite sure about the cause of a short one, and it is in a heart that has no room for anyone else except oneself.

When we see everything only through the prism of self, our world gets smaller, our understanding narrows and our heart waxes cold. Somehow, nothing else matters except how we feel about it. Soon, the measure of all happiness depends on what makes us happy. We become self-referential, self-absorbed.

With the obsession of self comes the destruction of everything else - including a union that is supposedly destined to merge two imperfect lives into one unified whole.

Let me end here. Judge Choo wrote that even the Punic wars ended after the third war. I wish the couple in the above case well. I hope for them peace henceforth. God knows they and their children have gone through a lot. It is indeed time for healing for a union that has sadly gone their separate ways long before this court case. Cheerz.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

How much should a Christian hate?

I wonder, how much should a Christian hate? I take my cue from the den of robbers where Jesus overturned tables and denounced peddlers and profiteers of religion. There are also other occasions where Jesus reprimanded the Scribes and Pharisees of his day, reserving the worst names for them like vipers, serpents, wolves in sheep clothing and whitewashed tombs.

Paul in Romans 12:9 even exhorted us to hate what is evil and to cling on to what is good for our love has to be genuine. We must not claim that we love and then go around turning a blind eye to injustice, corruption and abuses. Worse still, to project a form of love in public and then exact unmitigated hate in private especially with those closest to us bearing the full brunt of our raging campaign.

So, hate is not something to be avoided. We as Christian are in fact called to stand up for what is right and make a difference by stepping up to the plate. Having moral courage therefore requires us to call a spade a spade and a wrong a wrong. Most times, we have to tell it as it is and to be firm (even tenacious) about it. Such firmness will inevitably come with some force of anger, a touch of hate. If Jesus is a model for us to follow, we can rest assured that hating what is evil or wrong is not just appropriate but necessary even.

But this is the tricky bit. At the risk of stating the obvious, we are not Jesus - not even by a long shot. We are all flawed. We fall as often as we soar. However, I am not advocating that we stop hating evil (or wrong) or suspend all judgments. That would in my view be a dereliction of our obligation as a Christian.

I am on the contrary suggesting that every subject of our ire - be it a wayward preacher, a corrupt politician or a hypocritical believer - be balanced with an equally intensive, if not more exacting, exercise of self-examination. The log in our eye will always be a reminder of how vulnerable we can be. The heart is above all deceitful and we are called to guard it at all times - especially our own.

So, this brings me to the many posts I have written about megachurch pastors, namely Kong Hee and Joseph Prince – to name a few. Needless to say, I have admittedly not written nice things about them - to put it mildly.

I have called Kong Hee a coward for not standing up to what is right, for not being transparent with his members, and for dragging the church through a costly, exhausting and faith-sapping legal saga. And I don't think I need to mention much about his recently ordained wife which obviously smacks of blatant spousal bias and conflict of interests - putting aside china wine of course.

I have also questioned Joseph Prince's interpretation of scriptures. I feel that his radical grace message undermines God's holy Law while it distorts God's freely-given Grace. Burying the former (law) to raise the latter (grace) only offer one side of the Gospel. I also find his doctrine of the one-time-altar-call repentance another distortion, while his emphasis on the self-appropriation of righteousness risks believers taking Grace for granted. History has shown us quite conclusively that we still continue to sin against a loving Savior after the altar call, but it is what comes after that that true transformation begins, that is, repentance. 

Last but not least, I feel that the megachurch preachers like Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland turn religion into a self-profiting enterprise preying on the innermost desire of believers for the attention and affection of omnipotence.

But in writing about them the way I did, I kept to dealing with the issue as best as I know how, and not the person. As fallible as they are, I am equally fallible too. We are all flawed and I feel deeply that what joins us all together is never how morally superior we are. If anything, moral superiority is divisive, exclusive and self-glorifying. Self-appropriation of righteousness can equally be misappropriated to conveniently cover a multitude of sins.

Our common ground however is how flawed we are, and how much we need a savior - not how much we can live our life without one. And what holds us together is holy grief/sorrow, enduring repentance. Even if the Holy Spirit does not convict us of sins (so say JP as his bottom-line declaration), we could still grieve Him by our conduct, thoughts and speech. And if we respond in remorse and repentance to it by changing our mind and heart accordingly ("metanoia"), that is conviction enough for me (by the Holy Spirit).

So, I do have issues with Kong Hee,  Joseph Prince and the other megachurch preachers, and at times, I make personal judgments about their leadership and teachings.

But when I do so, I am aware that the log in my own eyes constrains me. It keeps me mindful of my own failings as a husband, son, friend and believer. I need to check myself too. I need a savior as much as they need theirs. I am accountable to God as they are accountable to Him.

And as I return to the question I first posed in this post - "how much should a Christian hate?" - I am reminded again of Paul's words, "to hate what is evil and to cling on to what is good."

Now, I prefer to replace the word "evil" here with "wrong", and apply the same to the tumultuous leadership of Kong Hee and some of the controversial teachings of Joseph Prince and the other megachurch prosperity preachers.

This is of course just my view and I am entitled to them just as many who disagree with me are entitled to theirs. Each of us has our own shored-up reasons for our particular stand or position. And the debate is endless on this.

My point here as I end is this, where should we then draw the line when it comes to hating what is wrong? I think the answer is found in the Pauline admonishment. At all times, our hate should not blind us to what is good. And if your read Romans 12:9, it culminates at verse 21 with this, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” If there is any doubt as to where to draw the line, that last verse should clear all doubts. Good always prevail, that is, it prevails over hate (Romans also talks about love, and I will leave that part to the end of this post).

At my brother-in-law's wake recently, I have spoken to members from City Harvest Church and New Creation Church and I realized that what is good about the churches are the members themselves. Most of them at least - the discerning and sincere members.

They know what they are looking for. They know why they come to church. They know how to pursue the Lover of their souls. They do not seek after men. They seek after God. They do not seek the gift, but the Giver. In fact, I have many friends who are equally discerning in these megachurches.

No doubt they are disappointed with some aspects of the leadership, but the source of their personal redemption and faith is not in the controversial programs and the flamboyant leaders, but it is in the life-transforming encounters with their Savior.

After talking to them, I feel that my hate for what is wrong should never blind me to the good that I cling on to. No church is perfect. No leadership flawless. And no programs foolproof. Leaders wear their pants in the same way that lay members wear them - one leg at a time.

By the fruits, you shall know them and mind you, numbers do not justify the leadership. Ten of thousands of people can be wrong (look at the current democracy in America). Just as the cult of personality is inevitable, we can trust that the discernment of mature church members will keep their eyes focused on their Savior.

By saying "by the fruits", I am talking about each individual life, and you can't just conveniently sweep or lump them all into one category and put a label on them under the category of "blind followers", "cliff-diving lemmings" or "mass delusionals". 

You have to talk to them. Listen to their heart's cry. Draw lessons from their struggles. Respect their reasons even if they differ from yours. Love them as Jesus loves them. Allow yourself to be encouraged and ministered to by the good in their faith and belief. And if there is a common thread that runs through our declaration of faith, it has to be the life of Jesus.

Sure, Jesus had overturned tables and stopped the people from turning His house of prayers into a den of thieves, but at the same time, He went all the way to Calvary and died for the same people who once formed the subject of his ire.

He took upon Himself their condemnation and turned evil or wrong into something redeemable, hopeful, empowering and enduringly good.

So, does this mean that I should stop writing about what I think is wrong about the leadership in the megachurches? No, of course not.

But my takeaway from all this is that I should continue to speak my mind as I have always done so in the past. Yet in doing so, I should also be mindful that love always makes the enduring difference.

It was love that compelled Jesus, not hate. It was love that completed the mission at Calvary, not hate. And it was love that Jesus said "forgive them for they know not what they do", not hate.

Love therefore goes the distance, completes the race and shows us the way. Yes, I should hate what is wrong. But such hate should never blind me to what is good, that is, what is redeemable and what is lovely in the eyes of my Savior. My heart should always be broken by the things that break the heart of God.

In the end, I should always strive to see everyone through the eyes of my Savior at an elevated point of Calvary, and not see them through my own eyes at the foot of the Cross where the only preoccupation is to cast lot over Jesus' seamless, blood-drenched robe. Cheerz.  

Their final days...

"Their final days". That's the papers today. People are dying and they want to live on in the hearts and memories of their loved ones.

Stephen Giam, a motivational speaker, passed away three weeks ago from advanced bile duct cancer at 51. He wanted to write a book about his final journey. But he did not have the time and he shared a video he made instead entitled "Stephen Says." The video covered issues like "What's it like to have cancer? How do you make death your "slave"? How do you leave a legacy?"

Another patient Benny had pancreatic cancer. In an interview, he said that "his biggest regret was to divorce his wife and the most important thing he learnt, after knowing that he had little time left, was to treasure his family."

Lesson? Death (or the thought of it) has an amazing way to concentrate or narrow the mind fabulously. Suddenly, everything we strive and crave for in the days of our youth goes strangely dim. And everything we have forgotten or dismissed as distractions takes centrestage.

If death is night and life is day, then the morning comes with a burst of energy. We are born. We grow. We are just discovering. We learn and fall, and learn again all over.

Then comes the afternoon. When the ambition is the hottest. We are geared up for the high noon of achievements. We want to be known. We want to shine. We want to do well and be proud of it. The fire is in the belly and the mind is laser-focused.

When evening comes, we return from whatever we were doing and achieving with a sense of fatigue and disillusionment. Suddenly, it dawns on us that life is much more than that. When sunset comes, the meaning-of-life goalpost, which once shifts constantly, even erratically, comes into sharper focus as our perspective broadens horizontally.

I like to think that in our youth, we use a torch light to concentrate on our path - be it career, marriage and family. We are intense in our focus. We have enough light for the next step. We see nothing else in fact.

We are serious about efficiency of actions and thoughts, serious about getting things done. Everything we do, we either want results, or it's a failure. We see success by a narrow window, just a slit of burning passion. Success (with a torchlight) is usually more of everything - money, status, possessions and recognition. The accumulation is relentless.

Then comes nightfall. This is a time where we are drawing the last reserve of our living breath. We are closer to the grave now. Things are quieter. The noises of ambition no longer keep us restless. The activities around us are still. And the enduring meaning-of-life goalpost stops to shift as it comes into clearer focus.

Now we somehow know where to go, how to kick and where to score. As our horizon widens, we discard the micromanaging torchlight that shines only at the immediacy of the material. And we turn on the floodlights behind us to see better, further and wider. We begin to see beyond the mindless chase, pursuit and race.

More importantly, we see the shadow of eternity lying beyond the horizon. The stars of the night becomes our guide. The white-noises of the day clamoring for our autopilot attention now gives way to the stillness of the night nudging us to give up the things that hold us in captivity, and instead to embrace the things that grant us true, lasting freedom.

In the great distillation of imminent death, we see loved ones. We see family. We see hope not in the things of the world, that is, fame, money and power. Instead, we see hope in relationships - not quotas, charts and profit margins.

We see the eyes of our children and wife, and realize that they have always been looking back at us, waiting for us at home, hoping for a minute of our time, fighting for our attention, living for our affection - all of which were seldom reciprocated as we are drowned in the busyness of our pursuit for the meaning of life as we see it then.

Let me end with what Khahlil Gibran wrote: "You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far."

The question is, "To whom have we been giving our bows (ourselves) to? To the archer who has in his sight the mark of the infinite so that our children's pathway will always be on target to the source of life, meaning and purpose? Or to the one who only sees the mark of the material, and every release of the arrow always misses the true target?"  
Food for thought? Cheerz.

Fatherless children; surrogate dads.

After coming out of a wake, funeral and a cremation ceremony yesterday, I have seen my beloved demise off, but have forgotten about the living. That is, the wife and the two young boys (4 and 8 years old) my brother-in-law had left behind.

What triggered this reminder is an article today by David Brooks entitled "Poverty up close and personal". He introduced an exceptional couple named Ms Kathy Fletcher and Mr David Simpson. They are no politicians running for a hotly watched-after campaign. Neither are they superstars spearheading an organization to eradicate world hunger.

Kathy and David are simple folks who open their house for teenagers to eat with them every Thursday night. That's what they have been doing and the numbers of teenagers coming in are amazing.

In a typical night, they would "have 15 to 20 teenagers crammed around the table, and later, there will be groups of them crashing in the basement or in the few small bedrooms upstairs."

The kids call Kathy and David "Momma" and "Dad" because most of them come from broken homes where their fathers are either serving time or dead, and their mothers are either drug-addicts or had abandoned the family.

David Brooks once brought his daughter there and she noticed that everyone "was unfailingly polite". They "clear the dishes, turn towards one another's love like plant towards the sun and burst with glowing personalities. Birthdays and graduations are celebrated. Songs are performed."

David's daughter concluded: "That's the warmest place I can ever imagine."

"During this election, season of viciousness, vulgarity and depravity, Thursdays at Kathy and David's have been a weekly uplift, and their home a place to be reminded of what is beautiful about our country and what we can do to bring out its loveliness," said David Brooks.

Lesson? Just one.

We as a people, nation and government have been chasing down one rabbit hole after another. We think the big battles are in eliminating terrorism or reducing the debt deficit or protecting national security or maintaining world peace. I feel that these are big sensational agendas with the littlest impact on the lives of our children, our future generation.

David Brooks wrote, "What changes people is relationships. Somebody willing to walk through the shadow of the valley of adolescence with them. Souls are not saved in bundles. Love is the necessary force. The problems facing this country are deeper than the labor participation rate and ISIS. It's a crisis of solidarity, a crisis of segmentation, spiritual degradation and intimacy." Amen.

As my brother-in-law passes on, he has left behind his loved ones - kids without a father. This is the challenge of society. This is where the rubber meets the road.

Let's put aside such grandiose goals like winning an election, competing to be world class and finding a pill for longevity. Gandhi once said that if we each do our part to sweep our corridor, each put in consistent effort to keep our house in order, the world will be cleaned.

At the eulogy yesterday, the other brother-in-law of mine Nat assured my bereaved sister-in-law Cherry that we as a family will be there for her. We will give of our love for her and her two kids, that is, love them in the way kor had loved them, and to the effect be their surrogate fathers. That about sums up what David meant by love being the necessary force. Love never fails.

What we (or children) need most now is not more policies being tabled in conference hall, but more food and family gatherings in the living hall, and not more strategies on how to bridge the gap between nations, but more invitations extended to our neighbors to have a nice warm meal in our homes.

Intimacy makes the enduring difference, not so much international diplomacy. The elegance of simplicity is never in the sensational. It is always in the endearing human touch, personal.

Let me end with this. "Sometimes Kathy and David are asked how they ended up with so many kids flowing through their house. They look at how many kids are out there, and respond: "How is it possible you don't?"

Indeed, how is it possible that we as a family for kor don't? Cheerz.