Sunday, 16 July 2017

Cultural roots

During my lengthy and exciting discussion with Vlastik today, it struck me that the whole hierarchical style of functioning in the Salesian world, as experienced and lived in India is not primarily of the Salesian heritage.  It is actually more of the Indian culture than the Salesian tradition.  That the Italian Salesian tradition which we inherited also happens to be a hierarchically based is an added reason, not the primary reason.

This fact dawned on me when I realised Vlastik's predicament as to how come Salesian religious life in some parts of the world is hierarchical.  However elaborately I explained to him, he found it baffling. Then it struck me that his European culture and upbringing has a different set of prioritized values wherein even children are consulted in families.  Naturally in a Salesian house, even the youngest confrere is respected and treated with the same privileges as a senior confrere.  He is not treated differently, as we do back in India.  Here in the UK, a temporarily professed has the same privileges as the one celebrating the diamond jubilee of his profession.

Back in India, our culture considers the father as the head of the family.  He makes all the prominent decisions.  The mother is at times consulted.  Children are rarely even informed.  Moving from such a a general ambiance into the seminary life with its superior-student dichotomy is not very difficult, unless one had a different upbringing or is a late vocation who has moved out of his parents shadow and learnt to make his own decisions for his life.  In this continued ambiance, no one has any 'problem': the rector and staff take decisions and the students follow.  Ask the students to get involved in the decision making and they're baffled or at a loss!  Because all along they've been told 'virtue lies in obedience'.  The rector is happy to make the decisions and the students is happy to follow!

From this perspective, I see the great difficulty of what Fr TD is trying to bring in, in our Salesian system: participation.  What he is fighting is not rooted merely in the Salesian religious tradition, but in our general cultural heritage.
Found this in an interesting article I happened to come across on the net... read here.

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