MIRROR – WHO DOESN’T NEED IT?

As a kid, I wasn’t dependent on the mirror but the more I am growing the more I am disposed to using a mirror. Then Mumma used to fashion me the way she wanted me to look like and then I never sought approval from the mirror. But as I grew up, I had the freedom to fashion myself the way I wanted to, and each time I went to the mirror for the first approval of my choice. Undoubtedly, as we grow up, we seek the approval of a mirror in our day-to-day lives because the mirror exactly represents us. Coining it perfectly Charlie Chaplin said,

“The mirror is my best friend, because when I cry it never laughs.”

As a grown-up man today, the closer I get to the mirror the more intently I can spot the imperfections on my face. I treated the pimple marks, sunburn patches, black spots, acne scars on my face but again it was the mirror who witnessed my ugly scarred face and also now the healed and better-looking face.

“If the mirror would be a human being, no could ever dare to lie to a mirror”.

Interweaving the mirror metaphor to life, life always demands the mirror. We need the object mirror for the glorious physical appearance of our physical entity. A few minutes’ workouts at the instructions of this mere object’ prepares us with perfect physical appearance. Its instruction helps us to treat facial imperfections. Switching to the second entity of human life – The Spiritual. The mere mortal, finite human life is filled to varieties of flaws within. Physique that carries weakness and diseases within, the mind is always filled with negativity, every work gives some negative impact and above all, we live within a flaw filled environment. Undoubtedly, OUR SOUL also demands a mirror! But the advice or teachings of another mere human being also carries their own flaws and obeying them might multiply my existing flaws. Well, the question remains – WHERE CAN I FIND A MIRROR FOR MY SOUL?

The Bible verses say,

God’s inspired word – THE BIBLE is the mirror for our soul.

Oh, taste, and see how good is this mirror!

The more we get closer to the LORD, God the more visible the sins of our heart and as we follow God’s command and treat our heart, we find salvation for our souls. The imprint of such a state is a humble human and a matured disciplined mind. But the far we run away from the mirror of our soul (The Bible) the fuzzier is our heart seems to us. The Bible says,

Anyone who listens to the words of the Bible but does not do what it says

Is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself,

Goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”

IS HATRED THE WAY TO DEAL WITH THE NEW NORMAL?

Today, HATE has become a new normal in our societies! The Christchurch mosque shootings are still fresh in my thoughts. Close to 50 people lost their lives in the peaceful land. There were kids, foreigners who had no connection with that hate crime what so ever in those 50 people. New Zealanders picked up all the pieces left over by that brutal crime with extreme pain and suffering. The whole world paid tributes., There are many such instances happening all over the world. Many are affected directly, some lost their loved ones. Peace and tranquillity are at stake. 

Recently came across an article regarding increase of hate crimes during the Corona pandemic. The analysis was that there could be stereotyped conclusions that people belonging to certain countries or regions or race don’t follow hygiene practices. This is the time when humans should have more compassion towards each other than hatred, yet, we are slowly drifting towards hate. Hate is not new to us. We have come across several instances even inside a family about how hatred can destroy lives. Close to 5K hate crimes are reported every year across the world. 

There are religious hate crimes, racist hate crimes, homophobic hate crimes, crimes against the LGBTQ community, sectarian hate crimes we hear about on an everyday basis. Makes me wonder if we have set some strict boundaries for normal? Anything that does not fall into this category bothers us to an extent that it won’t matter if a life is lost? Nine out of ten hate crimes have violence, often the offender is armed. Hate speech is also considered as one of the factors for a hate crime. Maybe, it develops from thoughts to language used. 

Does hate crime have more impact than the regular crime? Most probably the answer to this would be a yes. 

  • Victims are left with fear even after they survive the attack.
  • There is always a threat of attacks in the future. 
  • On a larger scale, this could affect a group of individuals. 
  • Hate crimes also give a strong message that the victim is not accepted by society.

Hate crimes not only cause physical pain, but they also leave a mark on the mental wellbeing of the victims. It is a negative emotion to handle when the situation is not very favourable. People might even feel threatened to leave the city or country they live in to save themselves. 

Well, in the hate stories why can’t a perpetrator sensitize the pain of the victim? How come the monstrous look of brutality does not haunt the perpetrator?

Unknown to me but someone has rightly said,

“Insecurity is an ugly thing, it makes you hate people you don’t even know.”

HATERS ALWAYS PLAY THE VICTIM CARD. Haters always feel insecure about reasoning, sacredness, righteousness, love, and truth since they have concealed themselves of deceptions. A deceived mind believes lies and as a result of it, they consider anything that is good and reasonable as their opponent, and the only way to secure yourself is taking a notorious way out. To deal with haters (victims of deception), the Bible teaches,

“Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling but on the contrary,

bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”

An untamed horse is of no use but a well-tamed horse crowns you with glory so is with human passion. Passion for money, sex, luxury, and power is natural for both the rich and rags but it is always the unbridled passion disrupts our character. THE UNTAMED PASSION OF HATERS convinces our mind to strategies for prey and the evil of hate in our heart-mind bridles us for a hateful crime. Every 15 minutes, a girl is raped in India, and every second crime is organized and loots are legalized around the globe today. Hating something/someone is obvious to the human mind and the passion of hate serves as bait and for which the Bible advises us –

“Nail your passion and sinful desires to the cross and crucify them there

before it entices you to shameless acts, later receiving the due penalty for it.”  

Hate is always by a person for a person, so the personhood is intrinsic in every hate crime. The endpoint of the haters in every hate crime can be better understood by recalibrating The Wolf In Sheep-skin story –

A wolf was walking in the countryside. He found a sheep-skin spread on the ground. He thought, “If I wear this skin and get mixed up in the flock, the shepherd will not suspect me. At night, I will kill a stout-sheep and then take him away with me”. As he had expected, the shepherd took him as a sheep and shut him also in the pen. The wolf was waiting for the night. The shepherd had a feast that night. He sent a servant to fetch a fat sheep. The servant saw the sheep-skin covered wolf by chance. That night, the guests had the wolf for supper.

Responding to hate against hate gives the starting point to another hate crime. But God in His goodness never withholds justice from the unjust victims of hate crimes. There is always sunshine after darkness. Therefore, God in the Bible says,

“The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear! Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scripture say, “I WILL PAY THEM BACK, says the LORD”.”

COLLABORATIVELY WRITTEN BY AASTHA AND AVINASH

‘A DREAM’ – NOT JUST ENOUGH…

Dreams are facile and gorgeous to closed eyes…

In my imaginative world, I dreamt of owning a hilltop penthouse. It was a springtime beautiful full moon evening. The hilly fresh air touching my skin and giving the comfort of nature. Small clouds were passing beneath my balcony pane. All the way, away from unwanted evening guest interruption, I was enjoying hot coffee in my yellow ZooZoos printed coffee mug, at the back in my dark living room the slow music and the two small blue lights from my home theatre were lighting my entire glass-walled living room. There were neither the bizarre sound of vehicle honks at the traffic nor the irritating midnight barking of street dogs only the dazzling yellow and blue bright lights of a busy city life down the hill was giving the feel of a calm and composed mind. A faraway from my hometown, I was enjoying those blissful evening moments with my small family. Lo and behold, Pogo (my Pug) sneezed on my face and tired I screamed out, can somebody get this pug a tissue! Mumma replied, O, hello Mr. Lazy, take Pogo for the evening walk, it’s 5:30 P.M now!

Dreams that we imagine in our conscious mind reflects in our subconscious mind while we sleep. Probably, that’s why it is said, “dreams won’t let you sleep!” Contextualizing to my imaginative world’s dream the undeniable question someone can shoot at me, “Well, WHAT’S NEXT to fulling your dream?” Undoubtedly, since human desires are unlimited and as human, I am profoundly subjected to it. Meanwhile, the Bible verse that projected me my grey-haired days –

“I have seen all the things that are done under the sun;

all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

I asked myself, does that mean I should stop dreaming? Well, the omnipresent calm voice of God answered back, “Human mind and Imagination is the primordial friends, they walk hand-in-hand and My given freedom allows human to imagine everything their heart desires. But in their course of life, it is My given wisdom to reason which presents before them the final point of their chase to fulfil the dream.

To the clinical eyes the more you rise to the top, the power of visibility grows lesser and lesser. Analogically, so happens with our soul! The more and more we desire to be on the top the lesser and lesser emptied we find within. And alas, the same dream penthouse of my story may become my place to hang myself to stop dreaming. Though now, I want guests and friends by my side sadly, there may be none of those unwanted guests, probably I have grown up so high that they are unable to connect with me. 

The problem is not in the dreaming,

the problem is how do you fulfill your dream.

Dreams are seen in closed eyes but it is our passion to toil for it gives tangible shape to the dream. Again, a reminder for us is, our untamed passion to bring down the dream to reality is empowered enough to allow our futile thoughts and convinces our fragile hearts to compromise with the ethics & morals. And finally, out there on the hilltop penthouse within the glass-walled rooms we may become filled outside but EMPTIED WITHIN…

The Bible says,

“Commit your works to the LORD,

and your plans will be established.”

ARE WE GOOD STEWARDS OR MERCILESS VANDALIZERS IN THE NAME OF PROGRESS?

As an urbanite by birth, since my childhood, I was more fascinated with superstructures, technologies, and luxury cars. The beauty of these fragile man-made kind of stuffs has always attracted me. But I had never given it a thought as to “how a world filled with the urban sprawl, superstructures, nuclear bombs, supersonic jets, technologies, and the billion piles of human wastage would cost us!” In the recent past, the cost of our luxurious lifestyle has become more evident to me as I witness and compare the beauty of hills, forests, and the hustle, pollution of the cities. A Scottish Economist, Philosopher and the pioneer of Political Economy has rightly proposed,

“Human wants and the ways to satisfy human wants are unlimited”.

According to the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), in the past century, the average earth’s temperature has increased to 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9 degree Celsius); 30 million acres (12.4 million hectares) of forest are deforested from Jan 2020 to as of now, only 2.5% of the earth water body is freshwater or drinkable, 1 in every 3 people globally do not have access to the clean drinking water, on September 8, 2019 the annual ozone hole reached its peak extent of 6.3 million square miles (16.4 million sq.km), every day 16 feet high Alaskan glaciers are melting down, last but not the least every year 4.2 million deaths are estimated because of Ambient air pollution, and 91% of the world population is living in extremely polluted airthese are just glimpses, such stats on environmental damage have now become a bottomless pit. Volumes of articles cannot contain it.  

Taking a sneak peek of my life, the counseling of my friend Agam, who is a law professor and environmentalist by passion has become my guiding light since June 2019. While we were on our way to Bhubaneswar from Kolkata, I took a candy and threw the wrapper beside my seat and my friend immediately scolded and asked me to pick the wrapper and keep it in my pocket till I find a garbage tin. Though I fail at times yet every time it is his wise words that still echoe in my heart and help me to be sincere to my environment. Analogically in the Bible God tells us, I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination.”

Earth is not born to us we are born to the earth!

We have seen the earth since our birth but that doesn’t mean prior to our birth earth was not existing, the same story implies from generation to generation. God first created heavens and earth, giving a form to the earth. He (God) created the sun, moon, stars, planets and nature and the living creatures. Then He (God) created human from dust gave him and her life and wisdom. Then the first blessing God gave to human appointing him as the STEWARD of HIS creation.

Well, by LOCKDOWN 2.0 I was quite happy of the news of nature and animals tweeting “Spotted Malabar civet… A critically endangered mammal not seen until 1990 resurfaces for the first time in India during the lockdown; 95% aircraft have stopped flying, Thousands of Olive Ridley turtles nesting on the beaches of Odisha; the 200 km away Dhauladhar mountain range of Himachal, visible after 30 years from Jalandhar (Punjab) after the pollution drops to its lowest level, or the recent the journey of 64,000 green turtles (the endangered reptiles) approaching the world’s largest green turtle nestling area at Raine Island on the Great Barrier Reef. I thought nature is REBOOTING but meanwhile the UNCTAD (United Nations Trade and Development) report alarmed me – volumes of unrecyclable waste have risen; severe cuts in agricultural and fishery  export levels have led to the generation of large quantities of organic waste; maintenance and monitoring of natural ecosystems have been temporarily halted; Local waste problems have emerged as many municipalities have suspended their recycling activities over fears of the virus propagation in recycling centres. Food retailers have resumed using plastic bags at checkout points citing health concerns over consumers’ reuse of paper bags. In addition, due to stay-at-home policies, many consumers have increased their consumption of take-away food delivered with single-use packaging.

Sadly, when we humans destroy something created by man, we rightly call it vandalism whereas when we destroy the NATURE which is created by God and is a gift unto us, we call it “PROGRESS!”

Isn’t it?

A LOVE WOUNDED RIN ALONGSIDE THE LOVE COMFORTED RIN

PROMPT: Standing in front of the mirror, she didn’t like what she saw…

Standing in front of the mirror, she didn’t like what she saw, while cleaning her face Rin’s eyes caught her age-old wounds. The red cut mark on her beautiful pink lips reminded her of those 5 years of ill-advised marriage life and the pain of physical abuse. Her beautiful day started falling like a pack of cards, divorced Rin fell back on the bed with teary eyes and questioned “IS THIS MY REWARD FOR LOVING HIM?”

The outside wounds were healed yet the inner wounds were bleeding!

Meanwhile, the voice of God reminded from her morning Bible reading,

“God’s steadfast love endures forever for everyone.” 

Rin bloomed and her teary Sunday evening turned into a blissful rainy evening enjoying the pitter-patter raindrops outside, producing the petrichor. Her heart started humming the old English hymn “HE DIDN’T THROW THE CLAY AWAY” in-recognition of the Agape Love that comforted her.

 

 

 

 

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.