Sunday, May 18, 2014

Koinonia – it’s simply awesome

by Phyllis Wong,
Posted on May 18, 2014, Sunday

When our children think of hope, fairness, caring and integrity, will they think of us?
IT was last Sunday night when a poster popped up on my computer screen which read:
“Awesome! France’s parliament has passed a law allowing workers to anonymously donate their off-days to a colleague with a seriously ill child.

“The idea came from the case of a man whose colleagues donated 170 days while his son was battling cancer.”

Awesome indeed! That was my first reaction.

Then I paused and wondered how much could I trust the Internet. Fact or fiction? So I googled for the news.

Radio France International (RFI) reported on May 2 that the story of a water-bottling plant worker whose son died of cancer in 2011 inspired a Member of Parliament Paul Salen to propose the bill.

Christophe Germain’s co-workers donated a total of 170 of their off-days to him so he could care for his cancer-stricken son.

The decision to give up work to care for a child suffering from a life-threatening illness weighs heavily on parents, according to Kathy Netten, a social worker with the Toronto Sick Kids Hospital’s Complex Care programme.

She works with families who have “medically fragile” children or are dependent on technology to live.

“The pattern we typically see is that only one parent can stay em-ployed full time,” she noted.

“Often the care needs of the child and the coordination of all of the service providers are so extreme that one parent needs to stay home or at the hospital.”

Netten said allowing people to donate their off-days to colleagues in such a situation “will be enormously helpful.”

After reading that inspirational news item, my fervent wish was that our honorable YBs or lawmakers would cease all the  chest-thumpings and shouting matches at State Assembly or Parliament sittings, and instead discuss important issues in a constructive and rational manner to bring about a better tomorrow for the people and the generations to come.

Our own State Legislative Assembly sitting had just concluded and over the two-week long discourse on affairs of state, there were some significant decisions reached in the law-making chamber that I found myself standing in awe of.

A firm believer that pastures on the other side are not necessarily always greener, I certainly would welcome the opportunity to applaud our State Legislature if and when elected reps from both camps rallied to uphold the rights and dues of Sarawakians.

And laudably, the August House had – in an unprecedented move – voted with one voice in favour of a motion, supporting the continuous effort by the state government to seek consideration of the federal government to increase the oil and gas royalty payment from the present five per cent to 20 per cent.

Both government and opposition members included strong sentiments of pride in their debate speeches, extolling the pivotal meeting of minds from both ends of the politcal spectrum on a topic that is considered crucial to the local economy.

The YBs gave a resounding “aye” in a show of hands, putting aside differences in their political beliefs and platforms for the common good.

One honorable member of the August House who hailed the watershed decision as historically momenteous, said: “It’s the moment we are telling all Sarawakians and others that we can stand together when it comes to safeguarding and advancing the interests of our fair land Sarawak.”

Awesome indeed!

And there was more. On Wednesday (May 14), a milestone of sorts was reached in the state’s political history when Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan Satem received a courtesy call from opposition elected representatives at his office in the State Legislative Assembly.

I like how The Borneo Post put it – The Chief Minister sharing a meal and fellowship with PR reps, pointing towards a common desire to work for a better Sarawak.

In the standfirst, the paper did not use a meeting, a courtesy call or a gathering but a meal, followed consequentially by a fellowship.

The world uses fellowship to describe time together over a meal or coffee with friends – meaning to hang out, sit around or just sit together.

In light of the biblical meaning of the word fellowship, the way the modern world uses the word isn’t wrong though – it just isn’t profound enough.

The Greek word for fellowship is koinonia – meaning having in common or communion.

It doesn’t just mean hanging out together or spending some enjoyable time with others. It means having a life in common with what we jointly have with others.

Clearly, it refers to not a mere social connection but an over-lapping of life or intimacy of shared experience that produces what can only be described as communion.

Koinonia is “that which is the outcome of fellowship.”

In other words, fellowship is more than just hanging out together. It is what happens when people hang out with a view towards growing together.

It’s the result of godly fellowship, the fruit of investment in each other, the condition that results from having a common life with others.

Koinonia among the elected representatives is what Sarawakians are hoping for.

The Chief Minister said of the fellowship: “It’s a good start even though we have our political differences. There are some com-mon grounds we can agree upon, especially in safeguarding the interests and rights of Sarawak.”

His view was echoed by state PKR chief Baru Bian who reportedly said a few issues of great concern were raised and the Chief Minister understood the issues that touched particularly on the rights of Sarawakians.

“We will work together with the new Chief Minister for we are all Malaysians and Sarawakians,” the Land Rights advocate said.

He was elated his party will be meeting with the Chief Minister soon to discuss the proposed amendments to the Sarawak Land Code which touch on NCR land, to be tabled in the November Assembly sitting.

“It’s very unusual to have an audience with the Chief Minister on things we have been harping on,” Baru noted.

Isn’t that awesome?

To wrap up, I would like to borrow the poem recited by Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How in his debate speech – titled Sarawak First – at the Assembly sitting:

Unmindful if it could materialise
Treasured is the thought it ever exists
All is well if the heart dances in dreams
Moments I wish are eternity in this August House

When hands are raised in unison and one accord
My heart resonates like never before
It warms the dark recess of mind
Fired up with love and hope entwined

It lights through the long dark night
It is like morning shining bright
Only in beautiful land of endless bliss
Enticing is a dream where hope lies

Only beauty, bliss and peace will know
Where our dream home lies,
In anticipation for faithful and united hearts
Who anchored so many hopes upon our Fair Land Sarawak.

Could the following lines of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow be the echo of Sarawakians to See’s vision of peace, hope and unity?

Glorious, indeed, is the world of God around us
But more glorious the world of God within us
There lies the land of song –
There lies the poet’s native land.

Yes, our beautiful Fair Land Sarawak which never ceases to inspire!

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