Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sacrificing one’s independence

As Kerala has surely shifted from a period of joint families (kootu kudumbam) to compact families, people are shifting more to an all for one concept. The one for all and all for one thought has undergone a real age change not only in the backwater rich state but also in the country as well. Even the car companies have understood the shift pretty much and it is reflected in the new hatch back models that have entered the market with their fuel efficient engines. The drive in the front seat is futuristic but the back is cramped into an almost “if you must, get in and don’t complain” design. It is like saying “If you want something you better be prepared to sacrifice.”

The law maker politicians have also found it difficult to understand what sacrifice is all about. The Congress in their whites and the Communists in their reds are finding the very word uncomfortable. Isn’t life supposed to be about making deals (money) and enjoying everything? What about the people? The people? “Oh, they will help us to fulfill our ideals”, say the politicos. So the people will sacrifice for the law makers. More electricity cuts, water shortage, accidents, hooligans, murderers! The people have to sacrifice and make do with these sufferings!!

So as an after thought to the independence day, one sees confusion as to what sacrifice really is. Churches talk about sacrifice every Sunday with priests going on and on about the virtues of sacrifice. Something they, like the politicians never practice. In this scenario the word sacrifice undergoes a transformation into what others have to do for the sake of our good. A far cry from what it is supposed to be “what we can do for the betterment of others.”

As an individual then the thought of independence and whose independence comes back strongly. Even though we have the independence to vote we don’t have the same independence to question what is done for five years in our state and country. Why? Because we are supposed to sacrifice! Poor Gandhiji’s picture will be thrust upon us with the much heard dialogue, “The India that Mahatma dreamt of. Let us work towards it.” And how? By sacrificing! If you ask me I feel pretty close to the wives who have jumped into their husband’s funeral pyre because they had to sacrifice. It is the most noble thing to do! Humbug. In the name of sacrifice the common person in this country is made to go through the most un-imaginable things and put through humiliation and hardship. Maybe it’s time for an equal responsibility pact in India. We do 50% of the sacrificing and the leadership has to do the other 50%. Like we listen to our leaders on independence day, let them listen to what we have to say too. Happy sacrificing.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The flu and the online congregation

The concept of God and a higher power becomes more apparent in one’s helplessness and hopelessness. One of the reasons of human beings undertaking their quest for God is when we feel we are not in control anymore and therefore have to make a petition for help to one who is more powerful than us. In India this is not so difficult to understand. Even though money in India can get us many things including getting away from murder in certain instances, we are exposed to dangerous situations which could lead to cutting short our existence on earth. Getting mowed down by a car, being swept away in a flood, sucked into a debt trap, being rained out or rained in and succumbing to the flu. This leads to a leap in faith as this is all we have got in this insecure life that we have to live. This leap in faith is reflected in the church, temple, mosque, gurudwara and other places of worship, where crowds flock together to express their faith in God.

But the swine flu has even broken down the crowd of faith. As people are advised to be careful, the obvious is also to keep away from large groups and crowds. Is it then safe to congregate when the times are bad? We are faced with a threat of dilution by a flu which refuses to die down. Who ever said that countries need weapons of mass destruction? The proximity of people in places of worship and the exposure of priests and worship leaders to a variety of people will also be under the scanner. The flu obviously does not discriminate between leader and follower. These kind of flu’s are going to add to the faith element of people but at the same time there will be doubts on whether they can go to a place of worship to dispel their fears.

But do we isolate ourselves from each other? Can we find other ways to be there for one another and reassure ourselves that we will fight this flu and overcome it, come what may. So if we can’t come together physically, we should look at ways of coming together in the virtual world. The confidence we gain from the virtual world will lead us to come back to the real world when we ready for it. ( These are times when it does not matter who we are and what we look like. It just matters that we continue our faith affirmations which lead our minds to come to terms with what is happening around us. Till then it’s