What are you will­ing to sac­ri­fice?

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - AN­GELA BROWN

Lent has of­fi­cially started once again. It is a time when many peo­ple, and not just Catholics, tra­di­tion­ally give up some­thing for the next 40 days in an ef­fort to put a new shine on their Earthly selves.

It seems ev­ery year it be­comes harder to de­cide what we can give up while still be­ing able to main­tain our place in the work­force, at school or even as hu­man be­ings en­gag­ing with our friends and fam­i­lies.

Can we give up the mod­ern com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tem? I don’t know many peo­ple who have any de­sire to give up the in­ter­net, even for 24 hours. If they were in a work en­vi­ron­ment, they would need to call in sick for about eight weeks if they de­cided they wanted to stop us­ing the in­ter­net. Peo­ple’s pro­duc­tiv­ity would surely stop if they couldn’t use the net and that might af­fect their gain­ful em­ploy­ment and abil­ity to pay their mortage or rent.

Stu­dents wouldn’t be able to com­plete their re­search to write their es­says with­out the net. They would have to visit the li­brary. Time would pass by and they may have to hand in their es­says late. Not a good sit­u­a­tion. Maybe peo­ple could re­sist email­ing and tex­ting for 40 days. They could go off so­cial media, or could they? It will be a lonely 40 days for these folk. They could only hope one of their real friends would pick up the phone if they knew how to ac­cess their num­ber to call them to talk. They might hope one of their vir­tual friends on their Face­book Page ac­tu­ally knew them well enough also to grab a phone and call them to in­vite them to din­ner or just to say “Hi.” But if peo­ple gave up us­ing the cell phone or iPhone for their 40 days, would they be able to find a land-line phone any­where to make that call to con­nect? How about a vow of si­lence? A fam­ily in Guelph was re­ported to have given up mod­ern tech­nol­ogy in 2013 and lived their lives as though it were 1986 for just un­der a year in an ef­fort to help their fam­ily im­prove their per­sonal com­mu­ni­ca­tions. The chil­dren ac­tu­ally would be able to make eye con­tact when they were speak­ing with their par­ents be­cause they wouldn’t be hyp­no­tized into com­mu­ni­cat­ing with their iPods and tablets dur­ing ev­ery wak­ing mo­ment in­stead. But they found it chal­leng­ing to say the least since many mod­ern habits are formed around mod­ern tech­nol­ogy.

Should peo­ple try to give up cho­co­late, the old standby? Maybe go on a diet for 40 days.

It would be even bet­ter if they were suc­cess­ful and could make a last­ing change in their lives to im­prove their eat­ing habits for more than 40 days. And a 40-day crash diet might just lead to the old 20 pounds off, 30 pounds on sce­nario if they re­bound af­ter com­ing off the diet at the end of Lent.

Ask any­one who has to make a New Year’s res­o­lu­tion any year and more of­ten than not peo­ple will say they are not mak­ing a res­o­lu­tion be­cause they know they will break it.

Sim­i­larly, how many peo­ple also know they can’t do with­out for 40 days, and be hun­gry - what is that? And they like cho­co­late, a lot. So they won’t be giv­ing that up.

Most peo­ple are ac­cus­tomed to eat­ing reg­u­lar meals so they are highly func­tion­ing in the work­place or at school so they won’t be skip­ping any en­trees or fast­ing.

And when it all comes down to it we should prob­a­bly ask our­selves what we hope to gain by giv­ing up some­thing, any­thing for a short while. Alexandria-Cornwall Catholic Dio­cese Chan­cel­lor Kim­berly Walsh says peo­ple should be fo­cus­ing on an spir­i­tual “makeover” or re­newal for Lent, and one that doesn’t ends when the 40 days are over. She rec­om­mends peo­ple “look be­yond” them­selves.

And Pope Fran­cis says peo­ple shouldn’t give up any­thing if it’s only to ben­e­fit them­selves. A su­per­fi­cial tem­po­rary shift is a bit of a sham. He rec­om­mends peo­ple stop their in­dif­fer­ence to oth­ers’ needs and take up char­i­ta­ble deeds dur­ing the Len­ten pe­riod.

That sounds like sound ad­vice if it could ben­e­fit the greater good in the long term.

Sure, keep the cho­co­late handy, and keep the com­puter run­ning -- but look up long enough to see who is stand­ing there be­side you.

Forty days of car­ing could dab away 40 tears in no time, and make ev­ery­one’s life worth liv­ing.

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