Perception makes all the difference!

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Today morning as I went to prepare my bed tea there was no tea leaf in the the container meant for this purpose. As I went to wake up my wife to ask where the tea leaves were, I found her enjoying peaceful sleep. I could not dare disturb her sleep and came back to the kitchen. I switched off the gas stove, searched for the tea leaves packet and filled the container with the tea leaves. As the brew changed the colour, I went back thirty years, the initials years of our marriage!

Would I have entered the kitchen so early then? No way, the MCP that I was, I would have woken up my wife rudely! Even if, assumed, had I entered the kitchen, the empty container would have made me furious and I would not even have noticed that my wife was sleeping! I would have simply shouted : ” What the hell you keep doing all day? Cannot even remember to keep the container full of tea-leaves?” And even after her having prepared the tea, I would have sipped it sulkily, cursing her for her absentmindedness as, in my perception then, it was her duty to keep all things ready! It is another matter that it would have wasted my morning also but who would have cared?

But years of living together and her silent suffering have brought a see change in my perception about our ‘roles’ and ‘duties’. I am more or less convinced that no one owes anything to the other….It has to be a mutual enterprise and this has eased things for me at least! over Thank God for this change in my perception!

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Hidden Persuaders!?

Sometime back I read about the book “Hidden Persuaders” written by Vance Packard in 1956. It is interesting to note that the observations made almost a century ago seem more relevant today! At least in India….May be I am wrong Hidden persuaders are keeping their “iron grip” on the masses, almost everywhere like a curse! May be their ‘kind’ varies! Somewhere it is glamour, at others it is power, still others are followers of a religion…some others are simply salesmen!

The author of the book believes that the right of privacy of our minds and of our existence as dictated by our inner self is a basic and important human right. But the Persuaders have “invaded this privacy of our minds”. The author asserts that ‘it is this right to privacy of our minds – privacy to be rational or irrational – that I believe we must strive to protect”. Unfortunately, that striving is visible nowhere. We seem to be simply being led as the kids followed the mythical ‘pied-piper’.
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And unfortunately today, in the age of consumerism and electronic media, in the age of IT based instant communication, this right is being violated with impunity. Marketing is the new name for such hidden persuasion. Consumers and citizens all over the world have been reduced to hopeless and hapless victims of the alluring charm of the hidden persuader, who cheerfully lends his services to anyone, REPEAT, ANYONE, FOR A PRICE!
Film and sports celebrities are the worst culprits in this regard. They take upon themselves the responsibility of ‘persuading’ people from all walks of life, specially the youth and kids, to buy/use and project the items as crucial to one’s image/pride/beauty/macho-ism, including presenting oneself as progressive! So Amitabh Bachan sells himself to sell an oil of dubious credentials and Hema Malini swears by the purity of the water cleaned by the purifier of a particular brand! The list is long!
I  wonder as to why these charming persuaders sell their conscience to be-fool their unsuspecting fans? The fans because of whom they stand where they are? Only for a few ‘more’ bucks? Also, the moot question is – why are the people so gullible?
In the political arena, Hitler was one of the pioneer persuader who sold the idea of German superiority to the gullible (or too nationalistic) Germans. So much so that they were convinced that the Jews ought to be wiped out from this earth! Political leaders of South Asia, many African and other countries have sold the idea of their National superiority to be at war with the neighbours perpetually! India and Pakistan wre included in that list. So is USA under Trump! The danger to a religion is the most saleable argument to these persuaders.

It also defies logic as to Why intelligent people consider their pride and self image so fragile? Why do they get trapped by the sweet talk, knowing fully well that the celebrities are doing it only for money which is included in the pricing of the product? And politicians are doing for snatching power from their opponents?  People often ignore their own rationality for dubious claims of the charmers! But why?

 

Mama’s boy

He was always a ‘mama’s’ boy. I hope you know what I mean. I believe in Indian situation, every boy is a mama’s boy. The degree may differ. But he was a mama’s boy by choice. Like most Indian mothers his mother had sacrificed her lot of comfort for his happiness. Seeing her slog (not in the usual sense of the term) he had decided early in life that he would never let her down, come what may. Probably he had written the script for his life quite early!happiness vs unhappiness

As usual, the situation had to change after his marriage. But, although he supported his wife duly, whenever there was a conflict between the two ladies, he stood by his mother, even inviting the wrath of his wife. He did realize that sometimes his wife was more correct than his mother but he stood by his resolution steadfastly. He always thought his mother would not be alive forever…so he could make amends after she departs for her heavenly abode.

Obviously, life and death are not a wishful thinking. As luck would have their youthful time passed more quickly than it should have! When the old lady said final goodbye, they were in their fifties. Was it too late? He made another resolution ….not to let down his wife any more. But the young lady (no more so young) viewed everything suspiciously. Sometimes shocked, at others simply surprised! He would stand by her when she faced the children (now quite grown up), her parents and siblings, even his own relatives! Gradually she understood and started enjoying the new relationship! Jointly they would rue for the lost youthful time but they decided not to waste the time on the past.

Human selfishness knows no ends

Recently read the story “A Family” by Guy de Maupassant and liked it…theme as well as presentation.It is a story about the plight of an old paralytic man who is denied food by his benefactors in the name of his health. The denial seems cruel to the narrator who feels that the entire family is actually enjoying the misery of the old man; and the denial is, actually, not to save the old man but to protect their own source of entertainment. ……A good peep into human psychology which also demonstrates that selfishness and cruelty is not the monopoly of any society and period.

SOCIAL NORMS AND LEGAL PROVISIONS-AT CROSSROADS

Man is a social animal. Probably, the relations between the individual and the society are defined on the basis of this premise. But this assumption does not seem to have been put to test till date. However, frequently occurring cracks in the social relationships and intentional and sometimes seemingly willful violation of social norms tend to put a question mark on this basic premise of social existence. If man is indeed a social animal, why he has started enjoying breaking the social norms/relations? Why the society is persistently failing to keep the individual members committed to the social norms, laws and customs? Can it be explained away by dubbing it as ‘generation gap’ only? Is the individual for the society or vice versa? Is it justified to break the social norms just for individual gratification? Simple yes/ no answers may not satisfactorily answer these questions! Keeping in mind the ever-increasing demand for individual freedom, it has become imperative to evaluate and redefine some of these norms. But most stakeholders have opted to overlook the problem. Educated and so called enlightened people often turn to legal solutions for every problem. Of late, it has been felt that even the governments are keen to impose law only, overlooking the social aspects. But is it logical and justified? Mostly this approach has created additional problems

Nationalism is not the end in itself!

A lot of air is polluted these days. Unfortunately, the ideological air is polluted more than the environmental air! Indian ideological air today seems to be infected by those ideas that claim to be based on or draw strength from a “holy” concept called nationalism. An old saying goes that excess of everything is bad. Add to this the fact that even noble ideas out of context can create havoc! Excuse me for saying so, but NATIONALISM as it is in the air today seems to be doing more damage than good. In any case, at best of times it is a parochial concept that robs the much better idea of humanism.
Remember, Hitler killed millions of Jews on the pretext of German nationalism. Aurangzeb committed atrocities on the people in the name of Islamic nationalism and the same is being done today by the Islamic State and other terrorist groups. Just as two wrongs can not make one right, every action cannot be ‘sanctified’ by engulfing it with the holy cow concepts, presently nationalism! To take pride in ones nation is a laudable idea but to force everyone to share my intensity is not. If we lambast Muslim rulers of the yore for their hegemony, how can we justify similar behaviour on our part? Equating every action with my own sense of nationalism is not going to achieve the purpose I espouse. So…let the thousand flower bloom. May be that enriches your own nation.

QUOTE – UNQUOTE

IS ALL (REALLY) FAIR IN LOVE AND WAR

The above proverb has almost become a cliché. Every one must have used it at one point of time in life. My hunch is that the number of males using this would be much higher than the number of females. This could be because, despite corrupt females coming on scene, still fewer females are inclined to take law into their own hands. For some inexplicable reason, I have never felt comfortable with this oft repeated phrase. Doesn’t it by itself convey that something has been done that ought not to have been done? The frequency with which this is being used these days only hints towards the declining morals in the society. But could it ever be justified? Let is examine!

To begin with, there are three key terms: fair, love and war. The dictionary meaning of these words is as under:

FAIR: treating people equally; just or appropriate;

LOVE:  very strong affection, very strong affection and sexual attraction, great liking.

(Love affair: a romantic or sexual relationship between two people who are not    married to each other)

WAR: state of armed conflict

As per the website www.phrases.org.uk/bulletinboard, “the use of this has been traced to John Lily’s “Ephesus” (1578). First attested in the US in “Horse Shoe Robinson” (1835). The proverb is usually used to justify cheating”. If that be the case, can cheating be ever justified? No. In my humble opinion cheating can never be justified! Even Gandhi ji said “ends cannot justify means”. I would go a step further and say, foul means can defile even the most glorious cause.

Let us first examine as to whether all is fair in the war i.e., armed conflict. Remember, here we are not talking of the fights between two individuals or groups; we are talking of armed conflict among nations, the situation which might have prompted the use of the proverb! India defeated Pakistan army in Bangla Desh war in1971 and captured over 90000 Pakistani soldiers. But they were not killed; they were provided food and other basic amenities and finally repatriated to Pakistan. We, on the other hand, often complain against Pakistan for maltreating our soldiers. We know that Pakistan is always at war with India. If all is fair in love and war then why do we complain? Some Iraqi soldiers were maltreated by the US troops in Guatemala camps. A lot of hue and cry was raised all round and those responsible for the ill treatment were prosecuted. Why? If this phrase were true, there would be no UN, no Geneva Convention on war and no Human Right movements! There are conventions to be followed even during war. Chemical weapons are still not allowed. Can someone using them be forgiven under the garb of this fairness? Even In the great war of Mahabharata, there were rules to be followed. All the international treaties clearly demonstrate that wars are to be fought according to rules.

If all is not fair in war can it be so in love?

What is love? If we see the definition given above, love is great liking/affection which may have sexual attraction.  Some times we say “Love is God”. Most religious prophets have extolled love as a virtue that is the first prerequisite to meet God. Bhagat Kabir said “dhai aakhar prem ka parhe so pandit hoi” meaning that one who learns the lesson of love is really enlightened. Guru Gobind Singh said “saach kahon sun leo sabhai, jin prem kiyo tinhi prbh payo” meaning, listen every body, I speak the truth, one who loves attains God. How cans a feeling that leads us to God, incite one to cheat others? These days we often read in the newspapers that a boy has killed a girl because she refused to reciprocate his love! Or has thrown acid on her face to teach her a lesson. What a travesty of such a Beautiful feeling it is? How can a person who is in love kill his beloved? Do we as a society approve of such action?  Love they say is always ready to sacrifice. How can one hurt others and still claim to be in love?prison_window_abstract_cell_pattern_architectural_painting

Of late Haryana (even Punjab) has been in the news for this love/war syndrome. The girl and the boy who love each other (fairly) break the norms of the society. What type of love is this that forces you to hurt your own parents who brought you up so painfully? And then, we have those khap panchayats who declare a “war” on these lovelorn couples and declare their marriages void. If they don’t abide by their dictates, they decree to kill them. Can these actions be justified by saying “all is fair in love and war”?

We claim that MAN is the most glorious creation of God and believe that He created Man in His own image. But the fact is that we have failed to live up to that expectation of God and have proved are the cruelest creation of God. No where in the animal kingdom the desire for possessiveness is as strong as in human beings. And this desire is at the root of all our selfish actions which force us to proclaim “All is fair in Love and war.”

Let us not forget that Love is the name of sacrifice, of giving, not taking. It is certainly not snatching. And giving never needs unfair means. Nature simply gives and gives. Let us also not forget that being human means playing fair to others, needy and weak.

War is the antithesis of nature and cannot be justified as a just cause. Unfair means used to win a war are doubly deplorable. No, sir, all is certainly not fair in Love or war.