Dr. Abdul Kalam, our former president and a great scientist and above all a person of integrity, loved always to meet the children and the youth of India. He always inspired people by his address and dialogues with them. He always told the young to have dreams, dreams about themselves and about the nation. In fact, all of us need to have dreams, something we feel passionate which we should also pursue with interest. Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychologist in her book “The How of Happiness” observes that having goals in and of themselves is strongly associated with health and happiness.
Persons working toward a personally significant goal are far happier than those who do not have such dreams and aspirations. Having goals gives us a feeling of control over our lives and increases our self esteem. If we have meaning and purpose, something to live for, then we will face and triumph over any adversity. When we commit ourselves to certain goals in life we will find much more easy to triumph over Trauma or Tragedy and create something beautiful out of them. A number of artists have created some of their most appreciated master pieces in the midst of great sufferings. For example, Beethoven composed beautiful music pieces during the period of intense pain and anguish.
There are two types of goals: it can be intrinsic or extrinsic. Working toward goals that are intrinsically motivational, personally meaningful contribute to happiness and wellbeing more than extrinsic goals. The extrinsic goals are those which are goals given to us by someone else or ones that we are forced to pursue by circumstances.
Victor Frankl, a psychiatrist by profession spent three years as a prisoner in the Concentration Camps in Auschwitz, Poland and in Dachau, Germany during the II world war. As a doctor, he spent a lot of his time treating the sick and the dying inmates, who were depressed and dejected in life. Near the end of the war he and a companion in the prison devised a way of escaping from the prison. Just before they planned escape he took a last look at his patients. The last patient he met was one who was very near to death. Frankl did his best to hide from him the fact that he was escaping. But the patient somehow guessed it, and in a tired and sad voice said, “So you too are getting out leaving us here?” Suddenly Frankl’s conscience awoke and he felt that he was betraying his patients! He ran out of the prison and told his friend to escape from the prison without him. At once the unhappy feeling of betrayal left him. Dr. Frankl says that there was inner peace in himself though he did not know what awaited him in the Concentration camp. In fact, he survived the camps and came out free after the war.
The most painful choices we have to make are often between the good and the best. In other words, the things that tempt us to abandon our ideals or goals are not always bad. We have to go forward at such times in bare faith, hope and genuine love.
Sometimes our personal goal may be different from the goals of the organization. If such is the case when we have entered the organization, we would find ourselves in a conflicting situation. We need to resolve these conflicts at our early stage. Otherwise we will be unhappy and lose meaning of our lives. It will lead to discontentment and disillusionment. We become misfits in the organization and also became like gangrene in the body of the organization. Other times personal goals go in line with the goals of the organization. But at the same time, there may be different ways of achieving the goals, there may be different points of views with regard to methods used for reaching the goals. Hence we need to follow certain rules and regulations to work within these organizations, it may be professional or academic or religious. Once we are aware of these rules, we have one or several possible responses. We comply with them out of habit, whether we like it or not or we might question them and push for change or we outright reject them.
We really can’t get away from rules. They are everywhere – written, unwritten, assumed, and invisible. Our lives are governed by them. The structure of our days, the organization of our spaces, the way we work, speak and relate with others, even the way we resist – all of this happens within a framework that is set out for us. We need to adapt ourselves to these rules to find satisfaction and fulfillment in our work. For the most part, the rules are supposed to help us to go through life with ease and comfort. Rules should be framed basing on the goal or mission of the individual or the organization. The rules and the customs must be updated basing on the challenges which the individual or the organization encounters in achieving its goal or mission.
Church is a communion and at the same time a religious organization, which has a mission given by Jesus Christ. The way we approach the mission may be different but the goal is same. Hence no one has the monopoly to dictate terms in the process of achieving the goal. There must be a collective discernment basing on the rules and regulations of the church for the growth Christian community and for service of the world at large.
Most Rev. Dr. M. Devadass Ambrose
Bishop of Thanjavur