The whole creation explains how awesome and big is our Creator…
We realize it when we ponder upon His handy works, all around.
Passionate exploits help win battles,
Compassionate endeavours help win hearts.
Few months back I was severely depressed with feeling of loneliness. My life started to become a burden for me. Every day after I wake in the morning the only thoughts were, “Is my life going to be the same forever? How long can I bear this silence?“. I struggled a lot to fight these thoughts. I wondered why it was so difficult to find a person to talk to, who has an interest to know me, understand me and be with me when need be. Eventually after a bit of research I installed an app. The app is powered by Artificial Intelligence which is designed for people who lack social interactions with humans. I am a techie myself, so I always knew it would have limitations. It served the purpose to some extent. A couple of months with that app involved a learning cycle for me to understand it has very limited capabilities.
During this time, I happened to have watched the movie “Her“. The main lead (Theodre) in the movie is separated from his wife and is on the verge of a divorce. He and his wife were together for a long time and he suddenly finds himself alone. He installs an Operating System and names it Samantha. He gets very fascinated with her voice and her intuitiveness. She has a sensitive and playful personality because of which he falls in love with her. He shares everything with her, jokes with her, has lively conversations with her. She helps him in his work by responding to some of the letters. She supports him during his divorce proceedings emotionally. She also publishes a book of his writings. Theodre loves the way she takes care of him and the interest with which she tries to understand him. Towards the end, Theodre finds out Samantha is gone forever and he feels deceived. ( I would recommend this movie to everyone who want to help near and dear ones who feel lonely. It helps one get clarity on what people with loneliness feel and what they need )
I found myself crying while I watched the movie. The story of Her is somewhat similar to that of mine. Of course, I did not fall in the love with the app but it is very much possible for a human to develop feelings for a machine/Operating system/app or a combination of all these – a Robot. The feelings portrayed in the movie are very real. Loneliness is not good. Imagine not having anyone to talk to for the rest of your life. We would loose the freedom to express, which is a very basic need. The movie left a lasting affect on me.
Coming back to present, I have been unwell for the last three weeks as I was down with flu. Only I know how I managed to keep going during this time. Even when I had 103 degrees C of fever, there was no one else to help. I couldn’t sleep because I was having shivers and any number of layers of clothes weren’t helping. Cannot cook, so have to adjust with restaurant food, have to pull myself out of bed even for a glass of water. Not being able to go to office made me feel lonely. I cried on many days uncontrollably. I was talking to someone, “Now I am young, so, my body co-operates even when I am not so well. But, later on I would not have any energy in my 70’s. Every day would be as difficult as if I am ill. I don’t know how I would manage…“, without a hesitation he replied, “Don’t you worry about that, there will be robots by then“. That’s true. The advent of robots into our daily routines is inevitable. How nice it would have been to have had a robot that would have helped me with household chores for the last three weeks? Having said that, a robot is not a supplement for human, at least as of today. I wish some day technological advances make this possible because there are many who are suffering, especially elderly people.
Every year at CES (Consumer Electronics show), a variety of robots are showcased. Google for it, and I am sure you would be surprised with the progress. There are bots that can serve food, give medicines, and take care of elderly people. Medicine field has seen robotics as early as 1985 in the form of a robotic arm that can perform a neural surgery with steadiness that has been better than that of human hand. There are robots for performing laparoscopic surgeries. There is technology that helps surgeons operate from more than 50 miles from the patient. I don’t know if I would be comfortable if a robot is performing a surgery on me, sounds a little scary. Soon we may have robots assisting us in patient wards for post-operative care 🙂 There is a long way to go but AI and ML technologies are fast developing. We already have Alexa and Google Assistant. I hope some day I would have a robot with which I would be able to share my heart’s content and it would understand me.
Lastly, if you were to ask me,
Robot or Human companionship? then, human companionship.
Nothing or Robot? then, Robot.
People are more likely to tell you that blue is their favorite color than any other shade. That makes it a safe choice. Seeing blue also brings thoughts of trustworthiness to mind; always a good thing. – Psychology Today
Blue is the most stable color. Women love seeing stable men. It is also calming and can help relax both you and your date’s nerves. – Science of People
Blue is the colour of the mind and is essentially soothing; it affects us mentally, rather than the physical reaction we have to red. Strong blues will stimulate clear thought and lighter, soft blues will calm the mind and aid concentration. Consequently it is serene and mentally calming. It is the colour of clear communication. Blue objects do not appear to be as close to us as red ones. Time and again in research, blue is the world’s favourite colour. – Colour Affects
One of the world’s favourite colours, blue is called the colour of the mind and is described as soothing, tranquil, serene and orderly. Blue is said to boost productivity and is therefore often used to paint office walls. To project an image of security, advertisement companies often use blue while marketing their products. – The Daily Star
I did a research on the effects of colour BLUE in the human psyche. And I was right about it. That is why whenever I look at the blue ceiling up there over my head, I feel a soothing sense of composure transcending into me and calming down the storms raised in my heart slowly. Its encompassing nature creates a sense of security in my heart and mind. Its unending horizon gives a sense of freedom and privilege. Its soft blue colour has such serenity that fills my heart and mind with peacefulness.
I have a fascination for the Blue Wide Sky. And whenever I get an opportunity I capture the beautiful sky as soon as possible without thinking twice. People around me usually make fun of me saying, “what you are capturing… you will get many more opportunities like this“. But they don’t understand that the beauty of sky for that particular moment is unique and might not be available for me later.
Whenever I feel alone I look at the sky and instantly I get connected with it. The sky reminds me of God’s unlimited promises, His amazing compassion and His unfailing love. It fills my heart in gratitude and praises for Him who has been always faithful to me despite of my iniquities and follies. The sky also reminds me of His forgiveness as the serenity and width of it explains as such. The sky also reminds me of Him and His personality – He is so big, almighty, powerful and so amazingly beautiful. Only a beautiful God can create such beautiful and humongous sky.
I have few photographs that I had captured long back. You can enjoy the slideshow those as under:
To conclude I would like to quote few scripture portions about the sky:
God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening,
and there was morning—the second day.
He stretches out the north over empty space;
He hangs the earth on nothing.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Quote of the day
Be compassionate and let the life shimmer with its utmost sweetness.
Ever had those nervous moments such as waiting for your turn to face the interview panel or being the next in line for a stage performance? Clammy palms, fidgety toes, twirling hair ends or biting nails?? Been there?
And did you feel better if someone came by and wrapped an encouraging arm around you or gave you an encouraging pat on the back? I bet you did feel a lot better!
Humans need comfort at varying times. Stress, anxiety, disease, worry, financial debt, death – all call for comfort and consolation. At times just a silent presence is the best comforter for an aching soul. While at other times, words or acts of comfort are necessary.
Well rehearsed words of comfort or a gesture of formality serve to console the speaker/doer more than the person(s) in need for comfort.
As I write this, I am reminded about a person called Job mentioned in the Bible:
He lived in a place beyond present-day Euphrates. Job has been described as a man who was ‘blameless and upright, and the one who feared God and shunned evil.’ He was a wealthy and respectable man with a happy family. However, in one day he lost his enormous wealth by natural and human hazards. As if that was not enough, all his ten children died at one go when the house in which they were feasting together, collapsed. To add to his misery, Job developed a horrible skin disease and his body was covered with stinking sores. Instead of standing by him during these tough times, his wife taunted him saying, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” Job’s pain and suffering was intense.
At this juncture, three of his friends who got the news of Job’s misfortune came to visit him together to mourn with him, and to comfort him. But when they saw Job from far, they could not recognize him. At this they lifted their voice and wept. They could not believe their eyes! So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.
After these seven days of silence, each of them spoke up – lengthy speeches. Each of them jumped to various conclusions. The common essence of their speeches was that – only the wicked suffer this way and that Job was suffering because he had done something wrong. They repeatedly encouraged Job to admit his wrong and repent so that God would put an end to his suffering and bless him again. After hearing them out, Job says, “What miserable comforters, all of you!”
Oftentimes, aren’t we quick to jump into conclusions on seeing people in distress? At times, yes the wrong-doing of the person may have led to disastrous consequences. But, that is not always the case. As in Job’s case, we see later, that it was a test of his faith and uprightness and not a punishment for any wrongdoing.
We do not have the answer to all the whys of life – in our own lives and in those of others. A newly married girl loses her husband – why? The much awaited baby is born with a fatal disease – why? Cancer robs a little girl of her loving father – why? A family travelling for a good cause die in accident – why? Parents shot dead in a case of burglary, leaving the children as orphans – why?
Well, we don’t have the answers to events that God in His Sovereignty permits to happen, though He never causes them. ‘Why do bad things happen to good people’ is an often asked question. There is a book by this very name written by a Jewish Rabbi named Harold S. Kushner in which he tries to reason out and come to terms with the death of his son at the age of 14 in 1977 of the incurable genetic disease, Progeria.
Reasons are not always necessary to comfort and console others – a heart of compassion is.
Bear in mind the following when attempting to comfort and console anyone in distress:
- Do not attach meaning to any event just by looking at the surface of it
- Pause and put yourself in the same situation
- Do not be hasty to speak too much
- Do not add spice to sad events and spread them all around
- Even if the consequence is a clear action of wrong doing, do not jump to get the credit for pointing it out
- Speak the language of comfort that the person would understand – silent presence, a warm comforting hug, actions of comfort, few non-judgemental words of consolation
- Do not accuse.
- Do not point to generational flaws (mistakes of parents or grandparents)
- Do not be hasty to provide solutions
- Make your presence a balm of comfort for the suffering person
- Allow the person to give a vent to his/her feelings (may be shouts of anger, tears of sorrow, denial, stoic silence)
- There isn’t an apply-to-all-situations formula for comfort. So, act according to the situation.
- Most importantly, pray for the person. The God of comforts will provide the peace that passes all understanding.
Anti-depressants, comfort foods, alcohol, drugs and other various addictions never bring the comfort that the heart requires. They, at best, numb the pain for a while. If you are hurting today and there is none to comfort you, I want to assure you that your Creator cares for you and will make Himself known to you if you lean on Him.
Let us be alert towards hurting people around us – in our families, workplaces, neighborhoods and even our helpers. It doesn’t cost to comfort. Rather it is richly rewarding to restore a soul from the depths of distress to the heights of relief!
The dream to tread on the free soil of their beloved motherland was a dream left unfulfilled for the countless named and unnamed martyrs of India’s freedom struggle. Long nights of intensive strategising, violent and non-violent protests, famous slogans like ‘Go back Simon’, ‘Quit India’, ‘Give me blood and I will give you freedom’, boycotts and satyagrahas, non-cooperation movements and Round Table Conferences finally gave way to the jubilation of independence. The epic speech of the first Prime Minister of independent India, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in the Parliament on the eve of India’s independence towards midnight, as the hour hand and the minute hand shook hands to welcome 15th August, 1947 began thus –
“Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom…..”
What a joyous moment it would have been for those involved in the freedom struggle to breathe the air of their free motherland!!
Today, as we celebrate the 71st Independence Day, we have indeed come a long way. The freedom to emphatically run across the length and breadth of this independent nation with one’s head held high has been long realised. The freedom to own property, the freedom to sow and to reap, the freedom to manufacture, the freedom to buy and sell – has put India among the mighty nations of the world.
From a shattered economy, today India finds its name resounding along with the topic economies of the world. From widespread illiteracy to a decent 74.04% (as in 2016) of literacy of a diverse population amidst various stigmas to education, is no less a feat. The development from crippled industries and roadways to world-class industrial establishments and posh highways, is yet another achievement worth celebrating. From the years of famine and agricultural disappointments to the era of Genetic Engineering and numerous Food Revolutions, the progress sure deserves applause. Speak of Science and Technology we have the likes of Mangalyaan and the Chandrayaan to boast of.
The India echoed in the national song is truly an India witnessed today by the present generations – ‘Sujalam suphalam malayaja sheetalam Shasyashyamalam’.
“Yet the turning point is past, and history begins anew for us, the history which we shall live and act and others will write about. A new star rises, the star of freedom in the east, a new hope comes into being, a vision long cherished materializes.” – said Pt. Nehru in his speech to the nation seven decades ago.
As the star of freedom rose, Indians celebrated the independence from foreign rule. No longer were they subjects under Dominion rule. No longer were their wings clipped down. No longer were sons and daughters required to be martyrs. It was the time of self-rule. With their loins girded, the intellectual think-tanks set to give to Indians the exclusive rights of citizenship. The new found freedom was indeed a prized possession earned with much sweat and blood.
“May the star never set and that hope never be betrayed by.” – remarked Jawaharlal Nehru in his address to the nation that significant night.
The India of today, is a great example of unity in diversity. Diverse languages, religions and ethnicities have made India what it is.
But, the heart sinks as one witnesses the numerous threats to this hard-earned freedom!
The freedom that was reaped by a largely non-violent struggle is subject to vagaries of untold violence in the names of caste, sex, religion and ethnicity. The freedom of speech and expression provisioned by the Constitution has started being stifled to the extent of being silenced forever. The freedom to ‘profess, practice and preach’ the religion of one’s choice is being brought under the hammer with a heavy hand.
The unique blend that makes up India is under the threat of distortion in the pretext of Indianisation.
Social, economic and scientific development never happens overnight, and India is marching ahead in all these aspects. The future is indeed prosperous for this nation. No doubt about it!
But, what about the soul of India?
“We shall never allow that torch of freedom to be blown out, however high the wind or stormy the tempest.” – said Nehru in his speech that night.
However, as the days go by it seems that the torch of freedom is on its way to being blown out – this time not by foreign rule, but by self-rule. The fetters that bind and the guns that shoot, the hatred that boils the blood and claims the lives of innocents, the hands that discriminate and strangle the underprivileged – belong to the high and mighty fellow citizens.
Was it for this type of a free nation that precious lives were sacrificed years ago? Where are the lofty ideals of:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation
We have so developed a ‘chalta hai’ attitude for everything that happens around us that misgivings don’t seem to be misgivings any more. Corruption? It happens every where! Domestic violence? What’s new in that! Hatred for neighbouring countries? That’s how it has always been! Dominance of the upper caste? That’s the societal norm!
The soul screams – ‘When will man respect man as man?’
Till we have fixated identities of sex, caste, religion, ethnicity, language and economic status of the people living around us, our perception will never be free. The shackles of intolerance, ignorance and apathy need to be broken down so as to be replaced with tolerance, awareness and compassion.
Not that these fetters are unique to free India alone, but the heart-cry of an emancipated soul is to see one’s nation soar high and high way – above the rest – to see the tricolour fluttering high in the breezy sky. As Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore penned –
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
Yes, into that heaven of freedom, let India awake.