THE CANCER OF OUR TIME – MEANINGLESSNESS

In the search of finding “the meaning of meaning”, the abstract subjectivity of meaning reflects the absolute need for its search for the meaning. The meaning of meaning denotes the abstractness of its purpose, its value, its significance, and its existence. But the sense of the search for meaning absolutely reflects the urgency, the importance, and the inner hunger for it. 

The meaning of meaning cannot be defined without the knowledge and alongside we need wisdom since wisdom instructs us about the timely implementation of knowledge or else knowledge becomes meaningless. Validating the need of both Wisdom & Knowledge the Bible clearly warns us, 

For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; 

the more knowledge, the more grief. 

I was always blamed for not having knowledge and wisdom and not understanding someone else’s situation. I was tagged as rude – judge-mental – bossy. As I tried to gain some knowledge and learn some wisdom, my sorrows and grief were doubled. Since I was able to understand someone else’ struggle the feeling of their pain become more tangible to me, moreover now in my life it wasn’t just my sorrows & grief alone! The question that taunts me now – “What’s the meaning for gaining wisdom & knowledge?”

Since our childhood, we were constantly encouraged to study well so that we can be successful. In my attempt for success I tried to learn from the experiences of the stalwarts of success. One from that list is famous British writer Jack Higgins (original name: Henry Patterson). The book that gave breakthrough to Jack Higgins and was sold over 50 million copies was, “The Eagle Has Landed (1975)”. He wrote this book towards the later years of his life and he quotes there;

“When you get to the top, you find nothing there. 

I wish I would have known it as a small boy, he added”.  

Again, the question that taunts me now – “What’s the meaning of being successful?”

In school, we learned “FOOD – SHELTER – CLOTHE” are the basic needs for a good life but the 21st century talks “MONEY – AFFLUENCE – INFLUENCE” is all that you need for a good life. Youngsters today says, ‘The more Money you throw, the best food, shelter & clothe you will get. The more Affluence you have, the more secured you are and the more your Influence are, the more you will be in the spotlight. In the words of the NOW Generation, MONEY-AFFLUENCE-INFLUENCE brings meaning to a good life. Well, flipping the pages of history we see Alexander the Great said, “keep my both hands and both legs dangling out from my coffin so that the world may know what I brought and what I am taking away”. Not he alone, sounding the same the Great, Rich Israeli King well-known as Wise King Solomon towards his final pen, he wrote,

“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.

My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil.

Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” 

The question prompts me, What’s the meaning of treasuring Money, Affluence and being in the spotlight?”

The pain of meaninglessness does not instruct us to refrain from acquiring wisdom, knowledge, success and money rather it insists on us to introspect our urge for it. It reminds me of the great quote of the English writer and Philosopher G. K Chesterton said, 

“Meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain.

Meaninglessness comes from being weary of pleasure.

Quoting from the speech of Ravi Zacharias at the Veritas Forum, as final words to this article I would like to pen, “The cancer of our time is realizing the meaninglessness in our life and it can only be treated by God alone!” Man, with his finite amount of knowledge and strengths of life hasn’t left any stone unturned to understand & realize the meaning of being meaninglessness in life. But alas, he has bitterly failed and sadly, there is no one else among the living ones to treat the cancer of our time – MEANINGLESSNESS.

God, being infinite and eternal in His existence understands the malady of our human heart and has warned us in the Bible,

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; 

life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” 

WORTH OF A CHILD

Parenting is God’s greatest gift to humanity and children are the fulfillment of a parent’s dream. To the parents, Children are alike the arrows in the hands of a warrior. Though as of now, being bachelor, I didn’t literally qualify to that standard of life but the initial phase of my professional carrier was dedicated towards the Child Development cause and my most desired and most addressed subject in each of the training programs was “The Worth of a Child”.  The Israeli Child Psychologist, Psychotherapist, and Parent Educator Haim Ginott said,

Children are like wet cement whatever falls on them makes an impression. 

In India, 472 million are the kids who are below 18 years, which represents 39% of the Indian Population. Usually, we expect only the grown-up adults can be the face of the nation whereas in India Today, there 15 kids who have made India proud in the International arena. It is not only those 15 but there many like them. Alongside this bright side to boast upon there is also the dark side which is growing like never before and is always hidden by the affluence of evil. 2019 recorded, In India, 68% of children under 5 died due to malnutrition; only 10-13% of the children are getting good and sufficient amount of food every day; as per NCRB report in every 8 minutes a child is trafficked in India and goes missing, majorly he is thrown into forced child labor & she as a minor sex worker. Apart from these organized crime sides of reality, there is another reality that cannot leave unnoticed. In India, 4.5% of Indian households run by single mothers; 90 plus percent street children in Delhi alone are drug-addicts, think about the other cities…; while India is in lockdown the online Child pornography consumption has spiked to it’s highest 95%; at least 35 million kids between 6-14 age do not attend school and; according to NCRB report 2019, educated juvenile crime rate is more than illiterate juvenile crime rate. Well, the two biggest questions that we need to rethink today – WHERE OUR SOCIETY IS MOVING & WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT?

The American Christian Evangelist Billy Graham said;

The family should be a closely-knit group. The home should be a self-contained shelter of security; a kind of school where life’s basic lessons are taught; and a kind of church where God is honored; a place where wholesome recreation and simple pleasures are enjoyed.

Though the marital union of Husband and Wife gives certification to the family yet it is the presence of their own child brings fullness to the family. Talking about the worth of a child in a family, the Bible says,

Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.

Once someone asked me, how can you be so unique in giving gifts to someone? My answer was because I trust, he will treat it with special honor and love it with special care. Children are a gift from the LORD, it is sure the LORD, God has entrusted us with children trusting us to treat them with special honor and love them with special care.

Following it, we need to remember

Love & Care is never possible in the absence of discipline.

As a baby, when I started crawling, I tried to grab everything that is reachable to my hands. Even in the darkness of the bedroom, I always tried to touch the fire of mosquito coil. Many times, my parents used to stop me from touching that small fire yet my tender mind and cute little eyes were always attracted by it. One night, my dad didn’t stop me from touching that fire which resulted in my left pointer finger being burnt and a small word fight between my mom and dad broke out. My dad’s work may seem a little rude to immature minds but now every time I look at my left pointer finger it reminds me how good my dad taught me some of the biggest life’ lessons. Approving to such parental strictness in disciplining children the Bible says,

Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them. Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.

As a child, everywhere we go, we were identified with our parent’s identity but when we grew up to adulthood our parents were recognised as “OUR PARENTS” with our identity. Probably that’s what the utmost dream of a parent is! With that in mind, the American Christian Evangelist Billy Graham said,

The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren are not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.

OVERCOMING THE UNWANTED PREGNANCY

Isn’t it true, we all carry the tendency of “UNWANTED PREGNANCY”! Metaphorically, we all feed some or a big amount of bad habits (imperfections) in our life since they are fun-filled and primarily we are enticed by their heroic personalities, whereas each of the bad habits we embrace finally results in kissing guilt and shame. Identically every human being, I was and is holding some amount of the tendency of Unwanted Pregnancy.

While in primary school, I observed some of my friends are using some foul languages and signs, which resulted to shut their counterparts up while fighting. I started learning and using those languages and by the time I passed my Board exams, I was well-versed with those bad languages and their meaning. Though often I behaved using it unintentionally, the truth was it was actually not so, since I knew what I’m quoting to the other person. I was so cunning that I was never scolded by any of my family members since they thought I didn’t know what is a foul language even. Gradually, towards my University days, I was already entangled with another awful habit that was “eve-teasing”. Chasing and passing on bad comments had become fun stuff for me. Somewhere I lost the sense of how hurting it must to them.

“If you give sin a foot hole it will one-day become your graveyard. But blessed are those who listen to good counsels and draw the line within the due time.”  

While being entangled with these bad habits, there will always be a voice either from inside of us or from outside of us that convicts us for our deeds. Exactly, in those days time and again I was reminded both in the Church sermons and by the godly people around me – foul language destroys your own character and it is an illicit pleasure. It was towards the end of 2008, my elder sister had to move to Delhi for her professional demands. Alongside missing her, every time as I pass-on bad comments to a girl my conscience convicted me – “how would you feel if someone does the same to your sister?” This daunting question put me into the cubicle of self-introspection.

American-Canadian-Indian author Dr. Ravi Zacharias rightly says,

“Any pleasure that jeopardizes the sacred right of another is an illicit pleasure.”

We may carry differences of status, religious views, influence, and political opinions yet one truth is absolute and holds each of us – Each of us has a sacred right to live life with due honor and it shouldn’t be hampered to treat our selfish and unmitigated pleasures. We are designed to exist within human society. As we put self in the first place the hurt of the victim of our Unwanted Pregnancy can be better felt.

Bad habits are easily learned but it takes a protracted period to break its chain. Though the protracted period consistently convicts us with the guilt of our failed commitments yet it has a lot of possibilities of overcoming it. Imagine the hurt of the victim of my foul words and eve-teasing, every time I made the commitment “NOT TO DO IT AGAIN”, yet often I failed. The tendency of failing happened not just once or twice but was almost for a year. With the years of inclination to sin and carrying the weakness of self-pleasure within, failing again is obvious but God searches our INTENTION. Perfection never comes one-day at a time. In the Bible LORD God says,

I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind.

Emblematically, the Unwanted Pregnancy (imperfections) has many faces – as we try to clean one the other one sprouts up. The closer the mirror is the more visible the pimple marks and blackheads are! As a kid, I had the bad habit of biting nails and as I tried to overcome it, I was stealing pencils and chalks from the classroom. When I started overcoming it I was subjected to malpractice in the exam, done and dusted overcoming it I was using foul languages… then eve-teasing… then illicit relationship… then addicted to cigars… then corruption… then addicted to porn… then extramarital affair… then lie… then cheating spouse… the list never ends. The inclination towards Unwanted Pregnancies refers to the existence of the tendency of sin within us. Sure enough, that has deserted us from the Perfect Being – GOD. As we realize and confess the tendency of Unwanted Pregnancies (imperfections/sins), our relationship with God restores. The closer this relationship, the more unwanted Pregnancies we operate. Overcoming brings perfection and perfection is the process to be PERFECT resonating the God-image within us.

 

OUR NATION IS A FAMILY

As the COVID-19 pandemic broke-out in India, 22nd March 2020, 7:00 A.M – 9:00 P.M was declared as National Curfew and in response to it, away from home alone, I locked myself in my flat in Kolkata. On Monday, the 23rd March 2020, when I reached office the first question everyone asked me – “Have you not gone home? Today, 5:00 P.M Kolkata will lockdown till 31st March 2020, how will you survive?” At the last hour, I took the last flight to home and left Kolkata just 30 minutes prior to the city went for the lockdown. While in those few short n’ rush hours of leaving the city, all that was running in my mind was – “How to reach home?” The only prayer my mind was repeating alongside sorting all works is – “God, please help me to reach home safely”. And as I reached home at 10:30 P.M, there was a calm and happy feeling in me. Physically I was too tired yet the heart was joyful and relaxed.

Well, the story narration is enough to prove the proclivity of every human heart. The human heart yearns to dwell in its safest place since there alone he puts his confidence and he finds his joy. It reminds me of what the Bible says,

“Two are better than one because if either of them falls down, one can help the other up.

Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three is not quickly broken.”

Well, in the presence of more than two in the family there is the possibility of difference of opinions which later causes a bit of bitterness. But there’s a blessing that comes within the bitterness. Since caring is the intention of everyone at the end of a little bitterness the love is reflected. That’s exactly what we experience in the daily affairs of our families. At times, the end differs due to the overpowering of intolerance in our relationships. So, the Father of our Nation, Gandhiji rightly said,

“Anger and Intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding”.

Being the citizens of one nation we are one family and now, we see the replica of our above discussion. When the entire nation is asked to “Stay home – Stay safe” on contrary we find the result of our flawed understanding in the streets – we have fed our intolerance and anger causing the virus to spread more.

In response to it, in the Bible, it is written,

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”

Let’s rely on God and rely also on those who are in authority as appointed by God. Prayer, Petitions and Preparations are what I can learn myself during this period of lockdown and also can suggest these for all others going through this article.

 

RUMOR – A LIE

19th May 2012 evening, it was raining like cats and dogs with thunderstorm and lightning, more than two feet height water was flooding in almost all the parts of the city. Drainage systems were blocked, people and street dogs were searching to shelter under the flyovers, bus stops and at the vendor shops veranda. In the midst of this chaotic situation, the undeniable challenge before me was to board the train from Bhubaneswar railway station at 19:30 hrs for my monthly staff meeting. Somehow, a known Auto-rickshaw driver was convinced to drop me to the railway station. Half-wet trying to save my laptop bag in one hand and my travel bag in another hand, I managed the roller-coaster ride at the backseat but as I reached the railway station I get to know many trains were canceled and like mine one all the rest of the trains were rescheduled to depart after 3 hr since the railway tracks were underwater. Finally, my search operation for a seat in the crowded platform was successful. After an hour, my phone rang, it was one of my field staff who went to his village somewhere in Bihar and got locked due to flood. Frightened and in a mumbling tone he said, “Sir, there is news everywhere on the city billboards, television, F.M and local newspaper that ‘tomorrow the world is going to destroy’ what will happen to us tomorrow!” In a fraction of second, a bolt of huge lightning falls on the train electric wire above the platform and there was a rain of fire. After a minute of silence, I asked, did God told you that He will destroy the world tomorrow? He replied, ‘No Sir’. I said, Alright! Switch off your phone, have a good dinner and sleep. We will talk the day after tomorrow morning.

Spreading a rumor to a thousand ears is making it believable.

We have turned believers of the majority. We talk, a majority must be granted! I think, often we overlook a simple truth ‘in our world the majority are liars’. It’s profound, the spreading of a rumor is easy and is carried ear-to-ear at a good speed. Alongside, among the thousand voices and ears of rumor mongers, the voice of reasoning will appear a bit or more of less strength and before the brain pauses to reason another voice of rumor monger knocks to repeat what is heard. The Bible says,

For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work, but it will be exposed when the believer of the Truth will hold it back and will continue to do till he is taken out of the way. Then the lawlessness (liar or rumor monger), who had not believed the truth but had delighted in the wickedness will be revealed and condemned. 

Self-isolating from rumor-mongers is breaking the chain of spreading rumors.

Self-isolating from the majority is prior to exposing a rumor. Thinking unlike the rumor monger requires the attitude of reasoning. E.g.: Monger: “He is a corrupt professional.” Reasoner: Just a minute, is it real? What is your reference point? What made him soil his hands in corruption? I haven’t experienced him in any of my transactions with him! Can we take some time to analyze the reality and then counsel him to renew the attitude of his mind?” The God of the Bible says,

Call to me, I will give you wisdom and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

The reasoning is the timely implementation of knowledge in reference to the Truth resulting in the exposure of rumors. 

Rumors cannot be exposed unless the knowledge to discern the lie in the appearance of truth is done within due time. Timely implementation of knowledge is wisdom and it paints the picture of a wise attitude. The wise attitude to anything that has been presented is reasoning. Reasoning always looks for the reference of the truth. Because it is the truth alone imputes justice. Justice is all that we expect at the end of every statement. In the Bible,

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” 

Image source: tech crunch, trump-twitter

GET TO THE TOP . . . THEN WHAT?

The effect of speedy migration known as an Urbanization, Pluralization of beliefs, Power of internet and Globalized lifestyle has altered the worldviews of our centennials. Well, my statement may sound passive but flipping from the pages of millennials’ worldview I hope I may sound profound.

We (millennials) studied “Roti-Kapda-Makan (Food-Clothe-Shelter)” as the basic requirements for human survival whereas today (centennials) has altered that idea to “Paisa-Rutwa-Shakti (Money-Influence-Power)”. Today, we say, ‘If I have money, I can buy the best food, clothe and shelter – If I have influence, my lifestyle will be recognized among many – If I have power, my food, clothe and shelter is secured.’ But as a matter of reasoning, the popping questions here are, “what’s wrong to strive for the best life?” – “Is it bad to be an Elite/Affluent Influencer?”

Once Sir Abraham Lincoln said,

“We can Complain because rose bushes have thorns,

or Rejoice because thorn bushes have roses”.

This profound statement of Sir Abraham Lincoln perfectly displays the paradoxical nature that consists of every materialistic achievement we make. In response to the “how” of dealing with the paradoxical nature, God declares through the passages of the Holy Bible –

Oh, mortal man, I have created you in My own image, giving you the wisdom and knowledge to discern what is good and evil!

This day I set before you life and death, blessings and curses.

I have also given you the freedom to choose life by listening to me or to choose death by listening to your mortal instinct.

As I grew up with somewhat world desire for MONEY – INFLUENCE – AFFLUENCE, the day was about to dawn for me to drop my college bag and pick-up my office back-pack and to start to buckle my formal shoes every morning. Alike every fresher, I thought to catch up with him, who has always gone the extra mile guiding me for a godly moral life. As I went to meet my beloved Subash Uncle, I noticed a different smile on his face which was evident to say how joyful moment it was for him. Before leaving his home, he gave me some advice which has always been very evident for me. He said,

“Son, God willing one-day you might become the most successful person with many accolades but REMEMBER in the eyes of the LORD you are A SERVANT. Never take pride in what you’ve achieved. As God blesses us with the manifold of blessings, He has also the right to take it away whenever we turn unworthy to be the possessor of those divine blessings.”

Secondly, “the three greatest evil weapons that stand in our way of life are – ‘UNTAMED FLESHY DESIRESILLICIT ACQUIRING OF GOLDHUNGER FOR GLORY’ (easiest way to remember these three – ‘3G’ GIRL-indicating opposite gender, GOLD & GLORY). All the temptations in the world are grounded to these 3 realities, once trapped to any of these will ruin our life, often there is no rescue from it.”

Generations come and generations go but, in each generation, the utmost desire of the human heart is always to get to the top. But alas, every time we witness an honest cry from the top confessing, “It was hard and compromising for me to reach here. But as I stand here, I FIND NOTHING!

Alike the rich man in my second last article who cheated the whole world just to get to the top but alas, there on the top, he was unable to face his 5-year old son. Often, we quote, end justifies the means” whereas profoundly thinking, “it is your means that decide how you will end”.

 

WHAT MADE HUMAN TO TURN INHUMAN?

According to the World Health Organization’s report, every year 1.6 million people (majorly between 15-44 age) worldwide lose their lives to violence. It says, “Violence is the intentional use of power, threatened or actual against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either result in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.”

Whether it is a riot on the street, frantic students strike, or domestic violence it won’t be wrong to quote “violence is always an organized crime”. Each time its barbarism reminds us how devilish is the human heart and its unity for a wrong cause is destructive. Recently, we witnessed the North East Delhi riots in which 49 people lost their lives, more than 250 people injured, and there is 25,000 Cr economic loss. My friend Prabhjot in her recent article HOW DO YOU KILL poured out her heart saying,

Delhi, my dear Delhi

Why did you stoop so low?

How do you kill your fellow Indians?

Where do you get this extreme hatred from?

Do you not think what will happen when that bullet you just triggered hits somebody on the chest?

Does it not even strike you even once that you are destroying a whole family?

How does your religion and belief become bigger than life?

How do you think you get the right to end a life?

Why does your hatred become bigger than your sanity?

Do you have no fear of God and no love for humanity?

Is your religion and politics above life and death?

It makes my heart weep that you could stoop so low!

At present, it ties to the Delhi violence but passing through the pages of history, every time we have witnessed any violence the only question that haunts and is rarely addressed to the entire human race – “WHAT MADE HUMAN TO TURN INHUMAN?”

Well, the dichotomy of human among living beings is, humans have the mind to be tolerant in their own ways and reasons to decide between good and bad. In response to the magnitude of reasoning, his actions will always be constructive and commendable. But alas, in the ‘Me n’ I’ age man has grown accustomed to intolerance. In the flux of priority, each of us pursues the “I cannot be wrong” principle. Fine for a moment, if each of us is right in our thoughts and none of us is wrong though our viewpoints are poles apart, logically, the unavailability of common ground will clash our ideas erupting untamed physical force to conquer and prove each other wrong. Now, undoubtedly INTOLERANCE precedes REASONING. The Bible responds exactly saying,

There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.

Whether it is the home-grown terrorism of fanatics or foreign terrorist groups, terrorism or violence is caused by religious thinking. According to the Economic and Peace Organization report, in the last two decades, the Global Peace Index (GPI) is deteriorating like never before. Religiosity is man’s attempt to save God but how pathetic it is, a mere man whose life is nonetheless than a vapor that can vanish away any time is trying to save God, the One to whom each day he calls out for survival. God has created humans for righteousness (righteous living) not for religiosity. Religion divides humanity and hand cups him with traditionalism and rituals whereas the first call of Righteousness is to have a consummate relationship with the LORD God and loving humanity as we love ourselves. Religiosity abandons us from God but Righteousness communes us with God. Alas, in the face of violence all that we find “RELIGIOSITY is preceding RIGHTEOUSNESS”. Prone to righteous living, Bible the inspired Word of God says,

Put on your new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy.

As Intolerance precedes Reasoning and Religiosity precedes Righteousness, we find MAN playing GOD in the face of violence. In violence, when each Man considers himself as God and strives to magistrate every thing and everyone, all that we find in the picture there is no more God but self-proclaimed gods fighting between each other with all their might. Of course, its repercussion pulls down the curtain of God’s grace and the Wrath of God takes the lead role. Time unknown but there is not a spot of doubt, all those whose hands turned red in violence will be answerable to the True, Living and the only God, the Creator and the highest judge overall. How dreadful it will be a moment for them who play God! That’s why the Bible says,

For God says, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay”. The LORD will judge his people. It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the Living God.

P.S.: This is an attempt to present the inner side of violence and counsel people to stay away from violence. Hurting or targeting any particular religious sentiments is not at all intended.