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REBEL FOR GOOD

Sab gussa karte hain, main ghar chod ke jaa raha hun” (everyone scolds me, I am leaving the house) are the lines of an old advertisement where a 4 year old is sitting grumpily in a railway station, with his small bag, but returns home when his postman uncle tells him that his mother has prepared jalebis (a special sweets). We often hear such cute stories of little rebels and let go because they are too small to understand and follow their impulses.

I always preferred to go with the rules until I realised something good can also happen when you break the rules. When I was in Class X, two of our classmates went to play during the transition time, after the bell rang for another period. They came back to the class as soon as the next teacher entered. She got angry, obviously, and punished them. To my surprise, the whole class retaliated and everyone wanted the teacher either to let those two go or punish the whole class. I, along with my best friend failed to agree with our classmates as we felt that those two boys were at fault. However, our teacher got pleased with the unity of our class and withdrew the punishment. That day I realised that it’s perfectly all right if some rules are broken, provided there shouldn’t be any negative implication on anyone. 

During teenage, many times I opposed my parents, fought with them when scolded for being out late with friends after the 8’o clock deadline, for wearing clothes which they felt inappropriate,  for not getting permissions when I needed and for other whole lot of things.

Rebelling against my parents for the love of my life was one of the least things in my mind. I had earlier agreed to their rule of arranged marriage, but the destiny couldn’t find a suitable match for me. Later, when I found my eternal love, my parents opposed. Since I was confident of my choice, I continued to portray my conflicting views in front of their emotional saga, until they agreed for our match. Lo and behold, just after the engagement, they were more than happy with their son-in-law!

There is a ‘rebel’ in everyone of us and standing up against anything, for a good reason should be the mandate. One just has to remember the limits, lest to offend anyone.

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BEING REBELLIOUS IS ONLY NATURAL

“As per the definition of rebellious, a rebellious person likes to challenge the authority and break the rules every now and then.”

Teenage is particularly connected with the word Rebellion. However, we need to understand what really happens at that age. Till the age of say 10 or 11, kids are used to being told what is needed to be done and how to conduct themselves in day to day life. Then suddenly around their 12th or 13th birthday, they start questioning everything that is told to them, they talk back, they even get violent and they want to do the exact opposite of what they have been told to do. 

Let us analyze what happens to other species on the planet. Animals, for example, leave the safe haven of their parents quite early; as soon as they have grown up enough to survive themselves. And for the sake of adaptation, it is really important they leave the safe home of their parents and mate with the beings away from them. 

Humans are too build in the same way. Physically, a teenager is grown up enough to survive himself / herself. They can take care of their food, clothing and shelter. To add to it, their hormones also drive them crazy to mate with the opposite gender. Comparing this to our animal kingdom, this is perfectly natural. If we lived like animals, teenagers would quietly leave their parents at the age of 12 or 14 and live their own lives. So, going by our animal instincts, teenagers are supposed to question the authority and step out of their houses so that adaptation can continue. So, what happens with teenagers is biologically ingrained in us for the sole purpose of adaptation and survival of our species. 

Now, what really have we humans messed up this nicely set up natural process. We have setup an adult age of 18 years. And typically a well-educated person starts earning only by 21 or 22 which means they need to depend financially on their parents and still live in that safe haven which they are physically and emotionally yearning to leave. 

One of my coaches once said – “It is absolutely normal for teenagers to think their parents are useless, rather it is important for their own growth. Only by questioning the traditions that their parents follow, will the kids identify with their own beliefs and personality. 

Slamming the doors, shouting at their parents, purposely creating issues for them, getting into addiction issues are all the signs of feeling unheard and misunderstood. Because they really want their parents to acknowledge the fact that they are growing up and can take decisions on their own. However, we parents out of love and fear for our kids – we still want to keep them inside our cocoon that we have built for them so carefully when they are ready and yearning to just fly away. 

When I was 17 years and just completed my 12th grade, I was super sure that I do not want to live with my parents at any cost. I wanted to leave them and live in the hostel and that was probably a very strong motivation to study really hard and get into an Engineering college. My dad was overprotective when it came to boys in my life. And since I was passing out of a convent girls school, I was eager to meet boys and experience that side of life. All hell broke loose, when after 1st year of my engineering – my dad discovered that I was happily enjoying all the attention I was getting from boys in college and was even interested in having a boyfriend. For a very long time, I felt extremely guilty about causing disappointment to my dad, it went away only when I realized that what I did was natural. I was about 18 and ready to experiment and experience life. 

What worries me is that when I hear pre-teens being rebellious. 9-10 year old cross questioning their parents, telling lies and getting into big problems. That needs to be understood. Why are kids growing up so early now? Why is the next generation maturing so early of their age? These are some of the pondering questions that trouble the parents today. 

As far as rebellious nature of teenagers is concerned, I think it is the duty of parents to be aware of what comes to them naturally and be a support for them instead of being control freaks. 

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IS THE SEED OF REBELLION GERMINATING DEEP WITHIN ME?

Rebellion according to Wikipedia is – “A rebellion originates from a sentiment of indignation and disapproval of a situation and then manifests itself by the refusal to submit or to obey the authority responsible for this situation.”

Rebellion can be individual or collective, peaceful or violent, for a good cause or bad as well. But usually, the word rebellion termed as negative and bad which we are going to discuss about this week.

When God created this world and created human being, He taught the world either directly or through the nature that this universe has a chain of command which we human can’t just breach it or go against it. The consequence of which is deadly when we go against it. We humans may be the crown of His creation, but we are not the gods of it even though we try to play ‘god’ like the kids play teacher-teacher or mommy-mommy game. When we go against God’s direct instruction and try to substitute it with our own ideas then we rebel.

Let me give you an example to make things clear…

In our office, our boss called for a meeting and delegated the responsibilities to all for an upcoming one-day event. The event was on a Sunday and one of the colleagues said, “Sir, I won’t be coming as I have some other work”. We all laughed as we knew how my boss will react. He replied, “Have I given you any option to decide? It is an official event and if you won’t be partaking it then you may leave the work”. And we all agreed to him when he said that. The hesitating colleague had nothing to say afterwards but to take up responsibility which was assigned to him.

Was he happy with the boss? Yes, definitely, because he understood his fault of rebelling against his boss’s decision.

Did he enjoy the event on that Sunday? Yes, wholeheartedly, because he acknowledged the chain of command laid down in an office set up, instead of opposing it any further.

Rebellion always begins in the heart. And in the beginning, it is never violent or active that can be seen, but it remains unexpressed. When the fire smolders, it spreads everywhere to create havoc.

Children and teenagers’ rebel against their parents and teachers which has smaller effects on everyone’s life connected to them. Sometimes, this small sparks of rebellion of college students were flared by the politicians to cause devastation.

“This is my life; I want to live it as I want”

“I can marry anyone as I wish”

“I don’t care what others think”

“It is about my rights”

“I want it this way”

“Why should I listen to him”

All the above are the statements which depict nothing but pride and rebellion in a human heart which is the first sin we commit in our hearts against our parents, teachers, elders, superiors, authorities and against the author of this life, GOD. Our sinful natures do not allow us to bend down and bow to the authority of another or God. We want to be our own bosses, and that rebellion in the human heart is the root of all sin.

It is true that we have freedom to choose according to our own wishes. But can we allow full liberty to someone who has bad temper, who is on the verge of destroying self and all around him? No, right? Then how can we cry about certain prohibitions as curbing our rights? Isn’t that cry, a cry of rebellion or trespassing?

“Rebellion is trespassing”
(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

Every human heart has the seed of rebellion germinating deep within. So I can’t justify that by saying, “I am not revolting“. My heart knows, I am already revolting against something deep within myself. But remember, whenever it happens, we need to let it pass through a scanner before working on it or trying to fan it further. A scanner might be your best friend who is wiser than you, an elder who is more experienced than you, your teacher who understands the right and wrong better than you… Or look to God by just saying a few words of prayer like this – “Oh true God! Help me to understand whether my desire is right or wrong… Give me the right direction and let me know how to go about it”. Trust me, I have been doing this for last 44 years in my life and was never disappointed even though sometimes things are bleak and dark for me. Though I refer, ‘the Bible’ for the clarity of my mind and conscience.

So, friends! I know it is a preachy article, but not a lie. Do not flare up the flames of rebellion in your heart. Pray for guidance.

Stay Blessed!

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WHAT HAVE I DONE ABOUT SOCIAL JUSTICE IN A PERSONAL LEVEL?

It took around 6 months for me to learn Bengali. As I slowly tried to pick up few words, I was amazed to hear them using Onyay (injustice) for a wrong doing. For example, to say – “I have wronged you, please forgive me” they say, “I have done injustice, please forgive me”. And I quite admired the use of the word injustice in the place of wrong doing. Wrong doing sounds casual whereas the word injustice explains the gravity of the matter.

My point here by saying this is, not exercising justice or doing injustice is a character deeply rooted within us because of our sinful nature. God is a God of Justice and He always cares for the poor and needy. He is always keen and interested in human beings needing social justice. But unfortunately, we human, on the contrary being bestowed with various responsibilities to do justice, fail to do so. Because of our fallen nature and selfishness, we struggle to do justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.

All through the week my co-writers have raised issues concerning social justice by giving so many examples and narrating different case studies of social injustice that has been taking place in our country and abroad. But I want to think differently. I want to take up the responsibility on myself. I want to ask myself, whether I have looked into the matter of social justice when I was given an opportunity? What have I done to bring social justice or justice in the life of a particular person?

Blaming the government and the political leaders is very easy. Going in a procession protesting against a law or injustice is easier. But have I shown mercy to the person desperately needing my mercy at a particular time? Or have I thought that this is mine, my family needs this, I can’t give it to someone else, outsider? Trust me, by doing so, I blocked the process of distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society, in the life of a person.

When I exercise justice in my daily life, it will spread to my family members, then my community, then it will spread to the country at large. Let me give you an example… Let’s think about the pre-independence era when all the Indians were under the British rule, losing all our rights. If the freedom fighters would not have come forward in the fear of being beaten and killed then we would not have seen independence today and would not have celebrated 71st Republic day this year on 26th January 2020, which is tomorrow. If they would not have selflessly stood against the social injustice in their personal lives, they could not have spread the fire of social justice across the country.

If I am unable to bring justice in my family then how can I expect it in the bigger sphere, like in the society or country?

In closing, I want to quote two scripture portion where we are commanded to do justice…

Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.

Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.

If we just follow this in our daily life we will surely see justice happening all around.

Stay Blessed!

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JUSTICE FROM THEIR PERSPECTIVES…

A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Slavery is founded in the selfishness of man’s nature – opposition to it is his love of justice. These principles are an eternal antagonism; and when brought into collision so fiercely, as slavery extension brings them, shocks and throes and convulsions must ceaselessly follow.

Abraham Lincoln

In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same.

Albert Einstein

Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained.

Helen Keller

Justice that love gives is a surrender, justice that law gives is a punishment.

Mahatma Gandhi

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DON’T WE DESERVE GOOD LEADERS?

In 2015, I came across a very stupid statement by a person from political fraternity.  He said, “Chinese food, jeans and mobile phones are the reasons behind increasing sexual violence/ rapes in India“. That had me in splits 🤣. On another occasion a head of regional political party said “boys will be boys“, following the increasing rate of sexual crimes. That was cringeworthy and repulsive but not “just it”.  Unfortunately a never ending string of such hateful, controversial, insensitive and senseless comments blaming the victims rather than the culprits are a part and parcel of the politician resumes in India. And our politicians make good comedians too 😁. Let me quote few more politicians (funny statements) before I put across my agenda to pen this article:

“Rings could be banned as if it goes missing, it might cause unnecessary problems. Flowers, I am sure, would not be banned. Anklets should be banned, they can affect boys’ studies and concentration, the clinking sound of anklets distracts boys.” “Civil and not mechanical engineers should apply for civil services.” 

“Darwin’s theory of evolution is scientifically wrong… nobody including our ancestors have said in written or oral that they saw an ape turning into a man.”

“You will get jaundice if you attend rallies of other parties.” 

(Source: different news papers)

They are just very few drops from the murky waters (better read gutters as in that of drainage systems) of ignorance and stupidity our politicians are diving and swimming in.  From outraging the modesty of a woman with their below the belt comments to making a complete fool of themselves with their idiotic statements our politicians have done everything.

So coming to my purpose of writing this article – vent out my frustration, can’t state out more elaborately than this. We are a country of population of over 130 billion who believe in the constitution of our country that confers it the power of democracy.  It awarded us the right to choose among the candidates to be our representatives on national and international podiums and these are the people we chose?

It would be very interesting to know that in India if you are planning to apply for the least possible office job in any government department the candidate must have minimum set of educational qualifications, aptitude, age bar is set after which you are not eligible to apply and a plethora of different examinations to filter the right person for the right job. It’s for the  entry level I am talking about. I myself have given examinations (that I flunked to say the least 🤣). But the handful people we chose to be our leaders – have we ever checked their credentials to be in that position we put them in?

Comically, ironically and sadly for a person to be a politician in India there are no set of qualifications that they must possess.  We have school dropouts as our leaders, the list is so long that I am unable to mention it in this small article 😛 . Few of them never even went to school to begin with. What a shame! On contrary the ability to mobilise the mob mentality, criminal background, nepotism, talking big (only talking mind you 😁), pulling wool out of innocent voters in the name of decade(s) old issues of poverty & unemployment – these are the qualifications that makes out a great recipe for a great politician in India. Livid ? But that’s the truth.

Over 70 years many regulations imposed and passed as laws but one law (or set of laws) that I would recommend or say love to see being reinforced : Transparency as to what is your qualification to lead us:

  • Graduation is the minimum educational requirement for anyone willing to contest elections
  • Minimum age bar be 25 and retirement at the age of 65. We need young blood and ideas to come in and contribute. Interesting fact: Finland has the youngest prime minister –  Sanna Marin, 34 years old where as…. just fill in the blanks 😁
  • No criminal record. No person holding even single criminal case against him/ her should be allowed to enter the assembly. They should have the same parameters of judging just as any other person vying for a government job is judged upon.
  • VIP culture should be done away with – I know I am wishing too much 😁.
  • Surnames shouldn’t be the passport for wishful portfolios without any proven track record of work. Kingdoms and dynasties are gone but trails are still lingering on. Political clout is just another business for decades now. Proven track record of work at grass root levels should be made mandatory.  It would only infuse confidence of people  about their leadership and future.
  • Do away with undue subsidies and freebies. Every hike in salary politicians demand for they should be made accountable for it’s out of the taxes we pay they are getting paid.

Though these points seem superficial for a country like India but completely need of the hour. Our politicians (majority) are smart (read scrupulous) enough to divide us and make us concentrate on issues other than development or even instigate hate.  And in this process they are steering clear of any accountability.  And when questioned they either play blame game or have another controversy ready to heat up the TRP markets.  Also given that India is being looked upon by the world don’t we deserve good leaders who work with clear conscience and talk some sense. What say?

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BRIBE, THE GREATEST CHALLENGE AGAINST JUSTICE

The moment a child is born, he or she is taught about what is good and what is bad. The child gets to know various things from its parents and teachers. Once the child is old enough to gain knowledge on its own through various mediums he or she comes to know of various laws and rules. This happens with all of us. While growing in maturity, we get exposed to things that are acceptable and unacceptable in our society. But then, what goes wrong when someone commits a heinous crime just to satisfy his or her ego. 

The incident which I am going to mention in this story, happened a few years ago in my hometown. Property dispute is not an alien concept in this country. People are often seen fighting with each other and conspiring to shun down their opponents. In my neighboring village two families were involved in a similar case. They were trying their best to win the case and satisfy their so-called reputation. Now let us call the families as family 1 and family 2. The head of the family 2 decided of doing something that would teach a life lesson to family 1. For this, they kidnapped the youngest boy of family 1 and killed him mercilessly. The mother, on the other hand, was searching for her son like anything. Her instincts told her something is not right as nobody couldn’t find her son. 

Four days later, the corpse was found near the village pond and the parents cried bitterly feeling traumatized. For them, their whole world literally went upside down. But for family 2, it was a gala time as they had taught a lesson to their opponent.

Anyways, a case was registered as family 1 had doubts on family 2. But then family 2 took the help of influential people in the area. The case was eventually closed and family 1 was given some bribe to shut their mouth. The whole village was shocked by this incident. The conclusion was when we came to know, ‘the entire system is corrupt‘. The policemen too knew that family 2 plotted the murder  and should have been punished. But they went on to settle the case by accepting bribe from them. 

Think about a scenario where every single case is dealt in such a manner. No doubt we have an impressive judiciary system with laws to curb criminal activities but what’s the point when one can use their influence and money to challenge the judiciary system and bent the law for themselves… Is the law and judiciary system so weak that money and influence can overpower it and let the culprit roam freely? People may think that it is better to let bygones be bygones. But is this right? There are several cases in our country that are manipulated and closed with the power of money. No wonder ours is an independent nation and is developing at a fast pace, but then there are still some dark areas upon which we need to focus.  

Friends! This hush money is standing as a wall against justice, which we all need to break with force. Are you ready to do so?

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WHAT AILS JUSTICE FOR WOMEN?

Changing times require changing laws. This week, as we write about the various spheres where changes are required in the Acts and Laws of our country, I choose to focus on laws pertaining to women in this article.

India is a largely male-dominated patriarchy, with a few matriarchal societies in the North-eastern, Southern and tribal belts. Going back in time to the days of the Indus Valley Civilization and the Vedic Age, we get to see women holding honourable positions in this part of the world. Though women were not accorded legal status, they were seldom caged within the four walls of their houses or subjected to inhuman treatment. 

However in the later ages, the status of women deteriorated. Women were subjected to menial manual labour, were considered as objects of pleasure and lust (though they were deified at the same time) and were treated as cheap means of income augmentation. Over the years, the gender disparity has only widened. 

Behind this widening disparity in this post-modern era, is the ever so skewed mindset of people (men and women). I was watching a documentary on Khap Panchayats (kangaroo courts that still exist in some of the North Indian states). The statement of one woman struck me. She said that ‘girls ought to learn to subject themselves to the diktats of men; if they don’t learn it the easy way and harbour vain desires of flying free, we know how to clip their wings.’ She was saying this in the context of a forceful separation of a couple who had eloped against the desires of the girl’s father and brothers. And mind you, she was no kin to that girl. What ultimately happens in such cases? Either the boy or the girl or both are subjected to public humiliation and/or killed. In instances where they succeed to escape, they continue to live in fear even after seeking legal help. Why have our laws failed to function in the true spirit of the letters of the legal provisions?

It was once thought by intellectuals that education is the answer to the ills meted out towards women. But, here are certain sections of people who have welcomed the literacy part of education without embracing the broader objectives and nuances of education. As a result, though today India’s literacy rate is decent enough for a still-developing country (74% as per Census 2011), the mindset of a hundred years before, still prevails.

There are two approaches to ensure that this mean treatment towards women changes. One is the preventive approach – change in attitude of society towards women, which would in turn prevent the injustices that they are subjected to. I’m not going to write about the change in attitude towards women in this article. That is a separate topic altogether. The other one that I will focus on is the punitive measures that our legal system fails to provide for the injustices meted out towards women.

Talking of laws favouring women, we have enough of them on paper. But the rate of their implementation is abysmal. The reasons are many – cumbersome unending legal procedures, politicization of cases, money power at work, lack of awareness and inaccessibility of the poor people to legal systems. It is of course extremely essential for the truth of events/cases to be ascertained before a verdict is pronounced; it is worse for an innocent to be implicated and convicted than for a guilty to be set free! But, it is also essential that the guilty be convicted and punished. Punitive measures not only ensure justice for victims, they also play their part in being deterrents to future possibilities of crimes of such nature.

I will give brief accounts of two incidents of injustices towards women which will drive home the need for punitive measures.

Case 1

A young woman was brutally stabbed by her husband in front of her four-year old son. She suffered 232 stabs all over her body. The number is no exaggeration because I have personally seen both the woman and her medical reports. She battled for life for three months in the hospital. Her life was saved, thanks to the doctors and the caring support of her parents. Today this young woman in her mid-thirties, bears the visible scar of a huge gash on her otherwise beautiful face. She is now forever dependent on a walking stick, using which she walks with a lot of effort. With no finances and a least supportive society, she lives in a perpetual state of fear. Reason – her husband who is in the lock-up but has already been out on bail twice has the money power to turn the tables on her, get their son kidnapped from school (which he has already tried) and to get the case closed by falsifying all allegations against him. She shudders to think what would happen if the courts rule in his favour and he walks free.

Case 2

This account is from a video which I came across in YouTube. The woman narrates how she was subjected to repeated sex-determination tests followed by termination of pregnancies against her will because her husband did not want another daughter (they had a daughter already). Unable to bear the torture, she took her daughter, started staying separately and filed for divorce. Well, sadly the story doesn’t end here. Even while the divorce proceedings were underway, the man visited her, pinned her to the wall and chewed off parts of her face including her nose. None came to her rescue hearing her shrieks! Her face is disfigured for life! The man roams around free, leaving her in a state of perpetual fear for herself and her daughter. Watching her story sent shivers down my spine.

These are not the only two stark incidents portraying injustices meted out to women in our country. Uncountable dowry harassment cases (many culminating in gory murders), marital rapes (which many of our political and self-ordained moral custodians think not to be made much hue and cry of), acid attacks, molest horrendous rapes/gangrapes followed by murders, slave brides, extreme domestic violence are some blots that many Indian women live with. Child marriages still continue to be societal practices in many villages. The dark business of trafficking girls/women to force them into the flesh trade thrives under the very noses of policemen. Men of certain remote villages have the practice of kidnapping or buying poor women from other parts of the country and marrying them so that these hapless women can be cheap sources of labour apart from satisfying their lust and tolerating extreme forms of abuse. (These women seldom escape, because they find themselves in different parts of the country – the terrain and language whereof they do not know much.)

All these persist, while we have ample constitutional and legal provisions in place, not to mention the National Commission for Women. Why haven’t our laws been deterrents to the ongoing injustices towards women? So many decades after independence, Indian women are still slaves to societal injustices. Few fight it out, others suffer silently – the poor being the worst sufferers. Why are there so many bottlenecks in the way of justice?

Preventive and punitive measures go hand in hand. While many of our NGOs, social activists and counsellors work towards preventive measures by ways of encouraging an attitude change, the punitive measures need to be stringent as well. The perpetrators of crimes against women need to get the message that they cannot go scot-free. Those with money and muscle power need to get the message that their support for brutes will not yield any result and that justice will ultimately prevail.

Violence against women is not restricted to India alone. It persists in all countries all over the world. However, the surety of justice, even if delayed is assured in many countries. The urgency with which investigations are carried out, evidence is sought for and the perpetrators taken to task is worthy of applause. The guilty know their fate once they are caught. In India on the other hand, various factors deter justice from being done. And this is what leads to the fearless propagation of crime against women.

Provisions for timely, stringent and sure actions against perpetrators of injustice towards women, coupled with increasing efforts towards changing the attitude of society at large, are the needs of the hour. We need strong investigative agencies – either public funded or private ones who would investigate atrocities against women, among other issues and go down to the very bottom of cases. Only then, dastardly  cases like burning women for dowry would stop being notoriously euphemised as stove bursting burns. We need impartial police who would not be bought easily by the political masters to hush up cases.

As we head towards another celebration of India as a republic, let our women feel assured to breathe the air of fearless survival. A wish and a prayer that women be seen with the same crowning glory that God created them to be!

 

 

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JUSTICE DELAYED IS INJUSTICE

On the night of 2nd December 1984, many lives changed, destinies were re-written or rather written off. People sleeping peacefully were woken up by a sudden cough which refused to stop. Some felt burning eyes due to which they weren’t able to see anything. They started to rush out of their homes into the white cloud of smoke that had engulfed them. “Run for your lives”were all the words that could be heard. Other sounds were of coughing people, wailing babies, people who were vomiting and some who were crying until they fell down unconsciously. They were running to move out of the white cloud that was not refusing to follow them. Many pregnant women had instant miscarriages. On a cold night, everything gave a burning sensation. Everyone was trying to reach the nearest hospital. Trees were shedding leaves as if it were a wildfire. But, it was worse than that. 

I am talking about the world’s worst industrial disaster- the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. The disaster that took the lives of thousands of people, permanently disabling lakhs and pervaded the birth defects in the generations to come. 

The leak of highly toxic Methyl Isocyanate from the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal. The reason of the leak is still not clear. However, the reports suggest that it was due to lack of maintenance and a floppy management. Several cases were filed against Union Carbide Corporation  or UCC and Warren Anderson, who was the then CEO. The cases kept on shuffling between the Indian courts and the US courts for 26 long years- from 1986 to 2012. Anderson was refused to be extradited by the US government as they stated that he had no role as the plant was owned and operated by its employees. However, in 2010, eight of the plant’s employees were charged with negligence and sentenced to 2 years imprisonment, with a fine of $2000 each. For all the deaths and the aftermath of the disaster, all they could get was just a moderate fine and 2 years in jail, which they never got as 7 of them were soon out of the prison on bail, shortly after the verdict was out. The 8th convicted employee already had died before the judgement was passed. 

From 1984 to 2010, justice after 26 years! Is that justified? 

And such a meagre punishment to those who played with the lives of many! Is that justified?

Bhopal Gas Tragedy is just one example of the justice that was delayed for more than 2 decades. The punishment given to the convicts was the maximum punishment given by the Indian Law. Change is the law of nature and so the changes should be made to the rules and laws that were made decades ago. It’s high time the cases are heard quickly so that the justice isn’t delayed. But, above all that, we, as humans need to value our ethics and moral principles.

An ethical life is built of integrity, honesty, kindness, decency and belief in truth, justice, honour, love, respect, compassion, and working together to make life better.

(Inspirational quotes)

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WE HAVE ENDLESS LAWS, BUT, IS THERE ENOUGH JUSTICE?

India got independence on the midnight of the 15th of August 1947, when the last ship carrying British soldiers left for England. It became a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic with a parliamentary system of government. The constitution of India came into force on the 26th of January, 1950. A week from today, it would be 71 years the laws came into effect, yet, justice being served is sparsely seen.

Swarna, I met her the first time at the session court cafeteria. Her court papers flew for the wind, and I helped her segregate them. Along with her was her 15-year-old son. Unknowingly, my eyes noticed the start date of her case, and it was way back in 2003, a divorce petition. I couldn’t resist asking her if her case was pending for 15 years, for which she nodded with a “yes.” That must be the time her son was born, and it would have been very tough on her. Later, she told me that her husband left her when she was pregnant with her son, three years after their marriage. The only reason was that he didn’t want to live with her anymore. Swarna hasn’t had any support from her parents regarding this and finally had to go through the birthing process on her own self. I can hardly imagine what would have been her thoughts like. She must be a fierce soul to have lived and fought through this for 17 years now and still awaiting justice.

I wonder what the justice system wants to do? Is the purpose to serve justice, but how?

A young girl in her 20’s left alone by her husband has been waiting for justice for 17 years. She lived all those 17 years without support, a leaning shoulder, a person to rely on and share her sorrows with – a companion to be precise. Mentally, this can put anyone under tremendous stress. I dare to ask if the divorce was granted; maybe, she would have found someone who could have taken care of her and, the kid would have had a father. She wouldn’t have had to bear the insults she has endured. It is more respectful to state that one is divorced than separated. Is it the expectation of the honorable court that after 17 years of separation, the couple will lead a happy married life, if the divorce is not granted? It sounds too absurd.

A child (Swarna’s son), who had no mistake in this is suffering because of? One might say his father, but I would say the justice system has its part too. He has to undergo the trauma of doing the rounds of the court, along with his mother, gets to see his father at times who has no interest in accepting him. Apart from this in the mediocre society, he is a fatherless child and is bullied. A teenager who should be looking forward to his future is now very uncertain. Imagine filling up those educational applications where it says father’s name. It would have hurt him to the core. Does the child not have the right to a more secure future? 

This is only one example, don’t be surprised to know that some people spend all the hard-earned money of their lifetime in anticipation of justice for decades and decades, and some leave this world before the verdict is released. Kudos to those who are staying put and have not given up. But, this brings us to a fundamental question. If justice is delayed this much, would people have faith in the justice system? If they lose such trust, the obvious is that they would take justice into their hands, which would lead to horrible consequences. Unfortunately, the loopholes in our justice system are already a significant reason why many resort to hideous crimes. The credibility of our Judiciary system is at stake. The two main reasons I feel are one, the ratio of people to judges, second, our inadequate laws.

The society is changing rapidly adapting to various reforms in many fields. Our laws cannot stay behind with respect to these fields. In fact, it is important that laws also evolve along with the advancements and changes in society. The fundamental right to life and liberty cannot be put to risk. We need justice and that justice should be served on time with a purpose to make someone’s life better and for a better society.

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
― Benjamin Franklin

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IF YOU CAN’T FIND TIME FOR YOUR LOVED ONES, THEN MAKE IT

I am too busy with daily chores.

These kids keep me so occupied. 

I am unable to find time. 

There’s so much to do.

These have been some of my reasons which were keeping me from talking to my family members. Talking on phone really has become a great deal for me, especially after kids. Even with my friends, I prefer chatting over phone call. With so many things to do, I seriously couldn’t take out time, which I have been regretting ever since I lost some of my close family members. I kept on thinking to talk to them in free time, but before that could happen, the ‘time’ came and took them away. Its very normal that we often take our loved ones for granted, without realising that life is short and our little gestures can make them happy. 

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(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

“If you love someone, show it”, said one of my aunts once, which made me realise that we need to show our admiration and respect to our elders in some way or the other. When my mom used to ask me to call someone in the family, I used to feel weird, as I didn’t know what to talk to them. However, I gradually realised that one phone call gives immense happiness to the elders. Just a normal question- ‘how are you’ starts the conversation. 

Ever since we moved to a different city from joint family, my mother-in-law makes a video call daily to watch her grandsons. And if she gets late, I ask my kids to video chat with their grandparents. They have now started talking to their little cousin too, by making silly faces and making him laugh over the screen. Because distance shouldn’t keep the feelings apart, this way of communication holds us together. 

I am very fond of capturing cute, sometimes silly, moments of my sons, either by taking a picture or making a video. Rather than just restricting these media files to my phone, I have now started sharing to my family members and trust me, they, especially elders, feel so happy to see them. Even if I don’t get time to call them up often, I keep them updated by sending photos and videos regularly. I even send them pictures whenever I cook something special. It’s a delight for my family members, who have known me since childhood, to know the varied food that I can cook now, as I hardly entered the kitchen before my marriage!

Family is a prized possession and nothing is better than being with your loved ones and spend time with each other. So, even if you don’t stay with them, utilise the technology optimally to be ‘together’.

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ARE YOU A GOOD SAMARITAN?

A lone sojourner on his way from one city to the other was brutally attacked by hooligans. They beat him up mercilessly, looted his valuables and left him by the roadside to breathe his last. It was a scarcely treaded stretch of road and not many people passed that way. In a while, a priest came along that way. He saw the injured man. Not wanting to get himself into any mess, he took a detour and went the other way. The maimed man continued to battle for his life. In some more time, there came by another traveller who belonged to a respectable class in the society. He too saw the man and changed tracks. After yet some more time, another man who was not held with much regard in that part of the country, passed by. He saw the injured man and stopped on his tracks. He rushed towards him, bandaged his wounds, administered first aid, took him to the nearest inn and stayed with him the whole day to take care of him. The next day, he gave some money to the innkeeper urging him to take care of the injured man and that he would bear all the extra expenses on his way back from the errand for which he had to leave.

The third man in the above parable who helped the injured man has been nicknamed as the Good Samaritan (‘Good’ because of his good act, and ‘Samaritan’ because he hailed from a place called Samaria). And thus, the expression ‘Good Samaritan’ finds its way into common parlance in the English language.

How we all wish for the helping hand of a Good Samaritan in times of need! How we all yearn during rough patches that somebody would stop on his/her tracks to attend to us! Even if you are a very independent person, there would’ve been hours where you would’ve silently longed for assistance.

Being ‘people-centric’ comes with spontaneity to many, but not to most. Why don’t we focus on people more than what we do for ourselves? What holds us back?

  1. Individual personality traitsAltruism doesn’t come naturally to all. Some are simply less altruistic and so paying attention to the needs of others is not a dish on their menu. However, altruism is an attribute which if cultivated results in a lot of good to society. Then there are some who are timid, shy and docile to intervene in the lives of people around them. There are others who are too self-centered to shift their attention from ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘myself’ to ‘them’ and ‘others’. Certain others are apathetic – they just fail to perceive the needs of others and make any sense of them.
  2. Bystander phenomenon – How many times have you passed by a scene of accident telling yourself that some others would step in to help the victim? This is called the bystander phenomenon in psychological terms and is present in most of us. We stand by and watch events unfold without stepping in to make a constructive difference, by convincing ourselves that there sure would be someone else who would offer assistance to the needy person. Most of us refrain from philanthropy for this very same reason, harbouring the notion that others are contributing towards that end.
  3. To avoid getting into trouble – The Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 2014 aims to provide protection to those who expose wrongdoing in government offices (in India). With such an Act in place, may people would have come forward to help the government machinery to function better. Sadly, this doesn’t happen! Rather, those who open their mouths find themselves embroiled in endless controversies causing them and their families untold miseries. People who help roadside accident victims, or the victims of mob violence or communal riots or eye-witnesses who volunteer to testify in courts of law end up being harassed and surrounded by endless controversies. Moreover, most people do not wish to get entangled with the seemingly unending and cumbersome legal procedures. The first person who offered assistance to the victims in the infamous Nirbhaya case and willingly volunteered to testify in the court of law has lost his private job because he had to make numerous appearances in the court leading to long periods of absence from work. So it is not simply a lack of will or motivation to help that prevents some from being people-centric, but the price that they end coughing up that makes them decide to keep away from the mess.
  4. ‘I am not affected’ – Many people turn away from helping others because they are not affected. ‘As long as I and my family are not affected, I need not bother’ is the latent thought process of many people. There are a few personal life experiences which open our minds to shed age-old notions and dogmas and be more helping towards certain sections of people. Some people whose houses get submerged under flood waters or shattered by earthquake are quicker to empathize towards similar others on later occasions. But till they go through a personal experience, they do not bother to budge.
  5. Mental schemas and societal stereotypes – In the parable mentioned in the beginning of this article, may be the priest who hesitated to help the injured man was afraid of defiling himself with blood or with a dead body in case of death of the man (there were strong rules of purity and defilement among the priestly clan in that culture). Taking an example from the caste system in Indian society (which is still quite vivid in rural India, though it is dissipating in most urban settings), people belonging to upper castes do not give access to water to those belonging to lower castes even in the scorching summer conditions. Though the Constitution makers incorporated Article 17 to abolish the practice of untouchability, it continues to raise its ugly head in various forms. Caste barriers, racial prejudices, religious and ethnic discrimination accompanied by the fear of excommunication stop people from focussing on certain others.

Most of us would find ourselves in one or more of the above mentioned categories (or even in some others) as to why we are less focussed on others. For some, it may even be simply a busy life schedule with hardly any time for self, leave alone for others. No matter what be the causal factors, all of us would definitely agree that we are not always ready to attend to people at all times. Mothers would agree that it causes them immense discomfort when guests pop in just the evening before their children’s exam. With all traits of efficient hospitability, it still becomes a grave dilemma to choose guests over helping the children with their lessons.

While ‘choice’ would continue to be a deciding factor, there are two golden principles that arch over all.

  1. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you – You expect others to attend to you in times of need, do your bit to attend to theirs when they need you. Identify the needs of at least those in your immediate periphery and reach out to them. Remember, needs of people are not always material, physical or external. Also, those in need may not always call out for help (just as you don’t, on many occasions). Just put yourself in each ones position in your immediate circle of loved ones and have a grip over some area in which they would desire you.
  2. Value others above yourselves – The moment you value someone above yourself, that person becomes the focus of your attention. And, you would definitely not shift your focus from those others who fall within the range of your radar. The Bible teaches – “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Let’s start small. No matter what be the reasons – personal, societal or systemic that prevent us from focussing on people around us and their interests, it is wise to make a conscious attempt to turn the floodlights outwards and then gradually increase their intensity for greater coverage.

 

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ALWAYS GIVE A FRACTION AND YOU RECEIVE WHOLE OF IT

Over the years, things in my life changed, even though I was dwelling in my own problems I always found an escape by dealing with other’s problems and understanding them.

It always came to me that, the more I indulge myself in solving others problems, I could find my own way out. It is a human tendency, that when problems arrive, to the individual, they lose the thought process and they become completely blank on what needs to be done. But when they are the other end of the problem they become expert problem solvers.

In my course of life, I have to be the victim, the problem solver or even the problem creator, which actually led me to a problem-centric person rather than I would say people-centered.

I do not know, whether to call it my speciality or a defect, but yes I always had some or other to deal with.

Even amidst the crisis, I have to deal with, I never stepped away from inspiring others or even be the torchlight in the darkness, even though at times I have shied away from it due to the darkness I was engaged in.

Even if I say, I have missed being the “good soul”, I do ensure that a piece of me does something for the people around me. Being an empath, it was quite easy for me to just swim into the pool of other people’s issues and problems they face, in a much more understandable way. I could say, the things I have been brought up around or things like i keep doing like the ones mentioned below, helped me to be what I am today.

Hence these were my shell-breaking things, which made me much stronger and focused on people around me.

Sharing is Caring

From childhood, we all learn the basics of sharing. We encourage our kids to share when the one near you does not have anything. I recollect as a child, I used to be around people who were financially not so great and the other way round too. Since being a child we do not know where do they come from or what do they do to make a living. all I knew was that, if the person next to me was starving I should be sharing what I have, at least that used to keep me happier.

Ever since then, this was something I never stopped doing. It always came as a positive approach to be friendly with people around me.

A gentle soft gesture doesn’t harm anyone.

Give what you own more, than you need

Since my childhood, my parents taught me to share if I actually had more stuff than I required. Nowadays, if you see, the kids are given or gifted things , that are actually already available in abundance with them, or they do not need them. Even though being a responsible mom (as far as I think), I ensure, they do not waste whatever excessively they receive. I channelize such stuff to the needy. Like if they get lots of color pencils or crayons, which are already available in abundance at home, I ensure, I give to the children, who are not in a position to buy them.

There smile is more than a treasure box for me.

Never treat others as beggars- as they are not begging

Most of the people who come to work in our apartment, earn through hard work. Treating them as individuals and not like beggars are important. Feelings are also important when you consider being people-centered. When you offer something to someone, they should never feel that we are offering them out of their financial state or something else. Make an offer as a gift, a token of love, they feel much more valued for what they are doing.

It is a simple fact, but at times we need to be careful not to hurt their emotions.

We waste a lot, why not be for the good

On numerous occasions we put up parties, there is so much food wastage, and money being wasted unwantedly. What can we do about it?

It was hard to decide upon, as one part of the mind you want the people you love to be happy and pleased, at the same time, the other part wants to do something good for the needy especially when items are wasted. This is when you have to take a serious step.

Big parties, big weddings, etc just please the ones, who already have enough. Why not try giving the ones, who do not have anything, they will value every single piece being offered.

All these were my thought process to keep my focus on other people intact – at least to help them. In spite of all these, I struggle a lot in keeping relations close, or even keep everyone around happy, as my decisions are quite decisive at times. But as I say, the more I tend to be a problem-solver than a problem-centered person, I tend to forget what I am going through.

Being people-centered is always my life goal. Being a mother, I have to be much more selfless and be dedicated to my home. Everyone has a roller coaster ride, fighting their own wars every day, hence it is important that we value each individual be it a small baby or even an elderly person, they all are important like us.

Give a fraction of your second, you get peace for a lifetime.

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HOW NOT TO DWELL IN YOUR MESS

Getting bogged down by life’s problems and situations and remaining inattentive towards the people around us is not a new thing for us. I won’t shy away to confess that I was too bogged down with my own problems last year and was finding it very difficult to think out of the box, trying to get out of the mess with many silly attempts.

I see a very self-centered and self-submerged ME, when I looked back into 2019, trying to introspect about myself. It is not at all a great state or condition for a human to stay within his or her shell after being created to have a multi-dimensional relationships with the people around him or her and with the God, Almighty.

Eventually, I lost skills in many things. I became monotonous. My messages and encouragements didn’t have much sparks as I usually have. My motivations seem ordinary and were not well conveyed ones. My decisions were not very concrete and shaky. I struggled with my time and deadlines. I failed to keep in touch with my own relatives and friends. Even I struggled to write meaningful articles and manage Candles Online.

In Cuttack, during my last vacation when I was reflecting on everything that I went through the year, I found where I went wrong.

I DWELT IN THE MESS!

Dwelling in the mess or negative situations around us instead of getting over it becomes a problem when we don’t handle it wisely and that tend to make us depressed, sad…letting us be blind towards the people around us and their needs.

We will come back to this part later… Let me divert your focus to something else…

Have a look at this image below:

This is how we were created by God – to have relationship with our fellow human beings as well as with our creator God.

I find it funny when some try to live all by themselves. I know, there are some who were the victims in the hands of situations and life. That’s a different matter. I have seen such people who keep a better connection with their fellow human beings than those who are crowded by people around them, strangely!

The best way to connect with the people and understand their needs is to get out of our shell first and the best way to get out of our shell is to focus on the needs of others. These two actions are interlinked and have to be carried out together.

I have experienced a fact about my mind. When I look into the problems of others I tend to forget my own for a moment. And the more, I make a habit of looking into the problems of people around me, the more it becomes a habit of thinking about others than dwelling in my own mess.

If I have to list out a few ways how I can be a help for others then I would list what I really do and want to do more often considering my physical limitations:

  1. I do pray but I will pray more strategically by listing down the names of people and their needs.
  2. I will ping people more often instead of expecting them to ping me first. Who knows, someone might need a warm ping from me desperately.
  3. I will visit people more often those who need a little company, especially old people. They are the most neglected and most loneliest people on this globe.
  4. I will try to listen more than talk. That way I might be helping more people. 🙂
  5. I will be more funny and humorous to bring that smile which people crave to display on their faces.

There are many other things that I really want to do though I am still unable to fulfill them in my life. I can only list them when I really make them happen in my life. And I pray to let it happen by His grace so that I don’t dwell in my mess but walk out of it.

I will tell you one thing, all these actions can be easily and genuinely executed only when we are well connected vertically – human to God. This is the base, if you are forgetting it. And it is tried and tested, if you think I am just blabbering weird theories in front of you.

Friends! The Bible says, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” This is a fresh year. We still are in a very festive and celebration mood, let’s try out and give it kick-start and divert our minds from our own selves to the people who are in desperate need of our care and support.

Stay Blessed!

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WHY ACKNOWLEDGING GOD IS SO DIFFICULT?

The knowledge we gather becomes the barrier between us and our Creator. It is only a childlike simple heart can accept anything and everything. When we are childlike, it becomes easier for us to accept and acknowledge God but when we keep a complicated and complex mind then we struggle to accept Him and suffer ultimately.

Don’t we run to Him when we are in trouble? Don’t we scream and cry out to Him when we suffer? Don’t we jump around here and there seeking some divine help when we are sick? Then why is it so difficult for us to accept Him in our day to day life, when we are happy and kicking?

I have heard from even my own family members that, “Let’s be practical“, when I ask them to pray, wait and seek His guidance. I give my example even… Yet, they get stuck to their practicality leaving a God, who is also the creator of this, what we call – ‘A Practical Life‘.

Friends! Be assured, “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Don’t hesitate to acknowledge His presence in your life today…

Stay Blessed!

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USE WORDS MORE, THEY ARE BENEFICIAL TO PEOPLE

On the 1st January 2020, I sent a poster that I had made to wish all the people by sending them to everyone I know and are close to me. But I made sure, I add few words to the image I send. The exchange of images and wishes started to flow from both sides. And I received an image of her family with “Happy New Year 2020” written on it as soon as I send my wishes to her.

My reaction to her was : “Words are less… We try to convey our messages through visual imageries more, these days.” She confirmed me by sending two more emojis instead of words again. 

It strike me as I was observing this last Christmas and New Year day that how we are so comfortable and fine with just sending images, either created by us or forwarded ones without even caring whether the person is benefited by it or not. 

I regret that I haven’t written anything about anyone recently as I usually do on their birthdays. I remember whenever I do such things for any one of my sisters or brothers, others keep poking me for writing something for them as well… or say, “Ah…when my birthday will come and Bhai (brother) will write for me as well“.  My Badepapa (My father’s elder brother) used to write such notes for people. I had kept a letter that he had once written. I regret that I had lost it somewhere. I still wish I could find it back to treasure it forever. Most of us have that habit of treasuring those letters. Isn’t it? 

Words do have such values and effects on our minds that elevate our spirit when we needed it the most than these forwarded images. No, I am not criticizing or against those formatted images. I did it myself as well. But it has lesser effects on us than a few words of comfort, consolation, encouragement and so on that are hidden behind a wish. The words we type out or speak have powers, they can kill or heal others. 

In closing, I would like to quote a couple of Bible verses which read as under:

The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.”

Words satisfy the soul as food satisfies the stomach; the right words on a person’s lips bring satisfaction.”

I am good at framing words and I decided to use my this skill more and more for the benefit of others. 

How about you? 

Keep thinking as you keep celebrating the freshness of 2020 till the end of January. 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Stay Blessed!

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THE GIFT-BEARER’S GIFTS

Carrying armloads of gifts uncertain,
Wrapped in glazing wrappers,
Someone knocks at the door,
As the clock ticks away . . .

 

What a warm welcome
The gift bearer receives
With open arms, beaming smiles
And hugs galore!

 

Gifts uncountable
Roll onto the table
Some small some big
Hardly can anyone wait for their pick

 

With excited squeals
All scramble onward
Eager anticipation
Givings way to mixed gasps

 

The wrappers are ripped apart
And strewn across the place
As all behold their gifts
Some with smiles and some with tears

 

Some hold prosperity in their hands
While for some a pile of debts to be cleared
Some united in marital bliss
While some hold a severing chord

 

Some hold happiness and success
While some have in their hands sadness and failure
Some cradle a new born
While some hold another year’s waiting

 

As the gift bearer beholds
The mixed expressions
He assures of joy in the midst of grief
And tranquility amidst unrest

 

The gifts that the year has brought forth
Do not promise prosperity and success for all
Yet there is available abundant Grace for all
Assuring victory over situations strong or dull

 

The Sender of the gift bearer
Is God over all
In His hands lie the reins
Of one and all.