Sunday, February 22, 2009

It's spring

Of late, my blog has become too much negative. What with notes about people who are insensitive and nasty, wicked and shrewd, sharp tongued and idiotic. I think I am giving too much space for these worthless beings and these worthless issues. They are not worth my energy(as of now, I have very little of it) and my time. So, let's move on............

Looking at the tree outside my window, helped me look at life afresh. Her leaves were dark green during the rains and then through winter they stayed that way till they all shed. Early January, she stood just like a skeleton. And then, I found shoots coming off her branches, young leaves. Brown in colour they soon turned light green. Today the whole tree is covered with leaves, a very pleasant and lively shade of green. For me it signified the curve of life.... the tune of life.... the turn of events......

So, here we go. Doing away with the old and looking forward to the new, to pick the best and interact with the best. To steer clear off the rubbish.....

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lesson unlearnt

Abraham Lincoln's letter to His Son's Teacher

He will have to learn, I know,
that all men are not just,
all men are not true.
But teach him also that
for every scoundrel there is a hero;
that for every selfish Politician,
there is a dedicated leader...
Teach him for every enemy there is a friend,

Steer him away from envy,
if you can,
teach him the secret of
quiet laughter.

Let him learn early that
the bullies are the easiest to lick...
Teach him, if you can,
the wonder of books...
But also give him quiet time
to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky,
bees in the sun,
and the flowers on a green hillside.

In the school teach him
it is far honourable to fail
than to cheat...
Teach him to have faith
in his own ideas,
even if everyone tells him
they are wrong...
Teach him to be gentle
with gentle people,
and tough with the tough.

Try to give my son
the strength not to follow the crowd
when everyone is getting on the band wagon...
Teach him to listen to all men...
but teach him also to filter
all he hears on a screen of truth,
and take only the good
that comes through.

Teach him if you can,
how to laugh when he is sad...
Teach him there is no shame in tears,
Teach him to scoff at cynics
and to beware of too much sweetness...
Teach him to sell his brawn
and brain to the highest bidders
but never to put a price-tag
on his heart and soul.

Teach him to close his ears
to a howling mob
and to stand and fight
if he thinks he's right.
Treat him gently,
but do not cuddle him,
because only the test
of fire makes fine steel.

Let him have the courage
to be impatient...
let him have the patience to be brave.
Teach him always
to have sublime faith in himself,
because then he will have
sublime faith in mankind.

This is a big order,
but see what you can do...
He is such a fine fellow,
my son!

That is a tall order to teach of course but if not in a school where else can it be learnt. One thing for sure my school didn't teach me is how to handle bullies, people who are nasty and insensitive. Nowadays, one finds more of such kind. and can't run away but has to live with them, day in and day out. My experience with bullies has increased especially in the past three years. The first year was horrible, and later though lesser, it continues. The environment aids them too. And being ill equipped to handle such kinds, is so much negative in the current scenario.

Reading this letter of Lincoln's, that is one thing my teachers never ever taught me. Other things have been there at different levels but the bullies and the tough part is missing. Maybe I wasn't listening properly in class. This letter also means so much for these things are to be learnt in school, when one is growing up, when the foundations are being built. So...

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Best

'The Best' is a term used so commonly without considering sensibilities of the person or people whom you utter it to. Is there anything, place, person or thing that can be called 'the best'. When comparing things, maybe. But when speaking about capabilities in people, would it be right ? Ofcourse one can call something 'one of the best' in the world. But, 'the best', no way. Many people would disagree, but I beg to differ.

I have heard it so often that nowadays it annoys me so much when I hear it uttered. It leaves me rattled as to what the educated man speaking on the dias means or does not mean. And the student who hears it and repeats without a thought is doing ? Having been used to hearing that a particular language is the best in the world, a particular race is the best, a particular literature is the best, it was new that they have now started calling minds belonging to particular people or race as the best. I wonder where they get it from. And whether, they have pondered over the line before including it in their list of favourite lines.

Starting to think at an atomic level, can I say for sure that my mind is better than someone else's. That would be sheer arrogance. So, wouldn't it be the same if I compared people, saying a particular race is better or a particular nation's people have a better mind ? That too in an environment working with youth.

What is being indirectly inculcated is ignorance and brashness, intolerance and one upmanship. But the ignorant youth lap it up and use it without thinking twice. Of course one has to be proud of one's land, heritage, culture, languages and its myriad colours. But then, one also has to understand and learn to be humble about it. Not brash. The best phrase would be 'one of the best'. There is so much beauty and meaning in the term. It speaks about inclusiveness, understanding and tolerance which is lacking in our societies today. It is so much more important in an educational setup where minds are being built. Where we students look up to educated men as role models. Where we aspire to grow like them, to travel around the world bringing laurels to ourselves and our nation.

The Vedic saying 'Vasudeva Kutumbakam', means, 'The cosmos is one family'. Better put, 'The world is my family'.

India for one has been known for her inclusiveness. That is why we are still able to exist with so many religions, so many customs, different people, different ways of life and beliefs. But this has been eroding for a long time now. Instances like when a religion preaches, that only its people will attain heaven, when people look down on customs of another, when people close their noses to the aroma of food cooked by different people, when people laugh and smirk at other people clothes. Every time we do any of this, we are looking down on ourselves. On our culture and heritage which we are so lucky to inherit. Every time we try to put someone down we defeat ourselves and our way of life.

Such a small phrase, but makes a world of difference, doesn't it ?