WHAT MAN HAS MADE OF MAN!

One of my favourite poems by William Wordsworth which I can’t help but reproduce in entirety reads thus –

I heard a thousand blended notes,

While in a grove I sat reclined,

In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts

Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

 

To her fair works did Nature link

The human soul that through me ran;

And much it grieved my heart to think

What man has made of man.

 

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,

The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;

And ’tis my faith that every flower

Enjoys the air it breathes.

 

The birds around me hopped and played,

Their thoughts I cannot measure: —

But the least motion which they made,

It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

 

The budding twigs spread out their fan,

To catch the breezy air;

And I must think, do all I can,

That there was pleasure there.

 

If this belief from heaven be sent,

If such be Nature’s holy plan,

Have I not reason to lament

What man has made of man?

When we stop for a moment on our tracks to think of all the various acts of violence that can come to our mind, we will quiver at the enormity and increasing novelty of them all. Properties damaged or destroyed by violence can still be restored, but precious lives? Can people killed in violence be brought back to life? Can their loved ones recover completely from the brutal fact that snatched a dear one from their lives? Acts of violence are always external, but their causes and impacts are largely internal. The idea of violence is conceived in the mind and then takes birth as visible actions. And, at the root of such conception of violence is hatred – sheer hatred – rising either out of differences in thoughts or beliefs or judgement. Volumes can be written on the topic of violence, but I’ll briefly touch upon few of them and their ramifications.

  • Violence in the family

Heated aggressive exchanges between husband and wife, alcoholic husband bashing his wife in a fit of drunken stupor, in-laws beating the daughter-in-law to press for their demand for more dowry, bride-burning for dowry, beating the wife/ daughter-in-law for conceiving a female, forced abortions, mother beating children mercilessly – either because she is frustrated for unspoken issues of her own or because her children are truly a handful for her to handle, beating one’s own self because the situation is out of hand, siblings killing each other over property, homicide – are a few of the many instances of violence in the family.

  • Violence at a societal level

People groups behaving violently towards each other – race against race, tribe against tribe, ethnic groups against each other, religious groups against each other, a neighbourhood ganging up against one person or family for some conflict of interest, in Indian context – caste violence, honour killings or villagers inflicting atrocities on newly married couple who have tied the knot in deviance to accepted cultural practices – the resultant arson and lynching paint a shoddy picture of human affairs.

  • Mob violence

When protests for rights take violent turns, they often result in mob violence and riots. Either clashes of protesters with law enforcement agencies or clashes among rival protesting groups, a sudden angry exchange in the traffic leading to group formation, stone pelting and vandalism often leading the way to organized acts of criminal nature, not to mention gang rapes and/ or murders.

  • Violence for experimentation and thrill

Alfred Nobel did not invent the dynamite to blow up roads, bridges, houses in order to demolish developmental works, cause fear, havoc and mayhem. Nobel just discovered a new method to blast rock! He did not intend to spread violence for the mere thrill of experimentation. Today, the principle of the invention of dynamite is applied to invent variations of explosives which are used for destruction and devastation. At the same time, we do have some crazy creative minds (psychos, I would call them) who gain saddistic pleasure from experimenting, inventing and discovering stuff that are intended to propagate barbarity.

  • Violence as political vendetta

Violence resulting from political vendetta is not unknown to any country in the world. Most countries in the world have had their share to witness such violence during some periods of their political history. The gains from such vendetta politics are minuscule and short-lived, but the scars they leave behind are long-lasting and generational – at times heaping the onus on the future political clan to seek forgiveness for or make amends for the losses that the previous generations have caused.

  • Violence wrecked by terrorism

Terrorism arising from cultural or religious indoctrination serves NO PURPOSE save destruction. Well, that in fact is the sole objective of various terrorist outfits – mere devastation!

  • Random violence

Random acts of violence are the saddest of all. We are aware of the mass shootings in school campuses, road rages and accidental celebratory gun shots. Though there may at times be some reasons beneath such random events of violence, none justify the actions.

  • Silent violence

Is there something called ‘silent violence’? Have you experienced fist fights in your head at times – the times you feel you would rise to bash up someone and counter their attacks as well? That’s silent violence. It does not cause immediate visible destruction, but eats you away from inside.

I deliberately refrain from quoting instances for each of these categories of violence. But, I want you to recall episodes of each such type that you might have witnessed, read or heard about. No matter what be the reason, was violence the only answer in all those cases?

Violence is not God’s design for mankind. God has created humans with thinking and reasoning minds, just like His, that can debate and dialogue over diverse issues, that can agree to disagree on conflicting interests, that can tolerate each others’ differences and still continue to coexist in harmony. That we are created differently in appearances and thoughts is an evidence of God’s creative genius. So, aren’t we mindless to clamour for uniformity of thought and expression?

It is such a paradox that we are liberal to tolerate sin, but are intolerant towards views, opinions and practices of others simply because they are not in line with what we consider to be right! I have always maintained in my articles that the only absolute for what is right and wrong is God’s standards and His standards hold true universally. Practices or beliefs rising beyond God’s standards are relative – they are not binding on anyone and cannot and should not be imposed on anyone.

Wars have been fought over land borders or revenge. Countless soldiers have been martyred rendering mothers childless, children fatherless and robbing the happiness of wives as they enter into widowhood. The United Nations was established in 1945 after World War II with the intention of preventing future wars. It has remarkably succeeded, hats off to the wise think-tanks and diplomats of all countries that have got together to keep dialogues going on in volatile regions – we haven’t witnessed a World War III!

But that having been said, wars haven’t been deleted off the pages of history. It is good to feel proud for the martyrs and marvel at their valiance. It is noble to provide financial security for their families in exchange for the lives that have been sacrificed. However, have we ever gone beyond to think of the untold mental agony the widow goes through or the psychological damage caused to the child who never got to have a glimpse of who his/ her father was? Long after the wars are over and the fumes have cooled off, we are left with soldiers maimed for life. They may win medals of gallantry, but we cannot understand their mounting frustration of each day as they depend upon others to go about their daily chores! We cannot even begin to imagine the battles fought by soldiers off the battlefield – with PTSD. Even the most empathetic civilian cannot claim to understand them because civilians do not experience or witness the toughness of battle scenes as soldiers do.

None of us is an eternal occupant in planet earth. None of us is the custodian of a given set of values or beliefs. None of our self-interests weigh more than lives of others. Do egos cost more than lives – those lives which we do not have the power to create?

Reflecting on all acts of violence, I can only lament in Wordsworth’s words – ‘What man has made of man’!

Each act of violence causes irreparable psychological damage. We cannot eradicate violence from the face of the planet. But, each of us can pledge not to endorse, encourage, enjoy, practise or propagate violence in any form, whether within the four walls of our houses or outside, whatever be the reason.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” – The Bible

 

 

LIFE ISN’T BUSINESS TO RISK IT

Apart from Good morning messages with very inspirational quotes, WhatsApp groups serve a lot of purpose than what meets eye.  In one such conversation with my childhood friends on WhatsApp, a friend shared this picture (actually this marked the beginning of our conversation, an important one)

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This conversation followed a fire incident that broke in a coaching center in Surat (Gujarat, India) claiming the lives of 21 students.  Many students died while jumping from a two storey building to escape the fire.  That was heartbreaking.  It was the scare of fire that killed more than the fire itself.  Lack of basic conformities and awareness as to how one should act in such tragic situations caused more damage. And that’s when I have decided that this is something which needs my, in fact, everyone’s attention as to Why, Who is responsible and How to do our bit to avoid or at least minimize the losses incurred.

Here’s a list of recent fatal fire accidents claiming lives of many and leaving charred memories for many more (all accidents happened in 2017):

  • Kamala Mills – Mumbai – 14 lives claimed
  • Plastic Factory – Ludhiana – 13 people (including 3 firemen) killed
  • Snack Shop in Saki Naka – Mumbai – 21 lives crammed and charred together
  • Rohini hospital – Telangana – 2 lives claimed 
  • Scrap market – Kota – 2 killed and 15 severely injured 
  • Cracker Shop – Rourkela – 1 killed and three injured
  • Illegal cracker unit – Jharkhand – 6 killed and 11 injured 

Special mention:

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Source: Google 

And then there are incidents exclusively where the property loss is humungous.  This is a pity picture which requires a lot of introspection – Who is responsible for this after all?

Electricity short circuit is the most prominent reason behind the majority of fire accidents. Cylinders or explosives going off comes next in line followed by other miscellaneous reasons that normally don’t find any mention in the list of reasons.  But does it absolve the “human hand” completely of its responsibility? The reason that was mentioned above are the ones that are apparent but the responsibility completely rests with people.

Non-compliance with the fire security rules, illegal constructions – squeezing and cramming of buildings in small spaces, No up-gradation / maintenance of fire fighting systems with time to keep them in working condition, No proper fire drills to the staff in offices.  Basically many “NO“s.

And the reason behind every “NO” that I have mentioned above is Greed and carelessness. People want to save every possible penny they could even if it means putting their and others’ lives at risk.  Complying to rules, training, purchase of requisite material everything involves cost and it’s something that’s loathed.  The greed to make quick and more money is the mother of illegal constructions, skyrocketing matchboxes (read apartments) where safety measures barely or rarely exist. And the basic attitude of “Jab hoga toh dekh lenge” (we will see when it happens) is something that must be done away with. “If caught for non-compliance we will pay something and buy our freedom” something that lingers on the mind (read habit) but not for once people plan future (in reference to fire accidents) with an apprehensive approach that we need to be careful and prepared for the worse.  And this approach is not just of the people coming from lower strata of the society with no awareness. But people with many sources of awareness at their disposal wait for the worse to happen before they realise and awaken.

Even with all the possible measures are taken unimaginable can happen, no denying to that.  But we lack the basic awareness to plan an escape in such situations (the first photo proves the same).  Probably because of not much attention given to this subject.  Parents and schools are constantly busy in ensuring that their children score highest possible grades and they don’t miss extracurricular activities too but subjects concerning their safety and security, be it self defense or otherwise  (escape plans in case of accidents like that of fire) are of trivial to no importance for them.  Hence no place in the curriculum, not even a chapter, workshops are a distant dream.  Companies/ industries are busy improving their profit margin every quarter whereas both employee appraisals (😁) and safety are not in compliance to their policies.  Can you tell me when was the last time you had a fire drill in your office?

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A photo doing rounds on Facebook. This is what I was talking about – carelessness and a bid to save a few bucks people are risking their lives.

These things seem inconsequential or immaterial but should definitely be a part of learning at different stages. If we are paying for fire insurance for our properties then some heed must be paid towards the safety of our lives too, isn’t it?  Talk about the safety measures to near and dear ones including children, use the social platform to spread a word, check if builders are completely complying to fire security regulations before moving in, yourself adhere strictly to all the regulations for safety,  electricity conformity is a must for every housing unit.  These are a few things in a bird’s eye view.

Remember: Your Life Isn’t A Business To Risk It.  Read, Talk and Spread the word for Awareness is the only key.

KEEPER, REVEALER OR LEAKER – WHICH ONE ARE YOU?

Way back during 479 BCE – 465 BCE, there reigned a queen by the name Esther in the Persian Empire. Esther was the Jewish queen of the Persian king Ahasuerus, also identified as Xerxes I. The period during which Esther was made queen, was a turbulent phase for the Jews and hence Queen Esther decided to keep her nationality a ‘secret’. In course of time, Queen Esther went on to reveal a ‘secret’ plot made to annihilate Jews in the Kingdom of Susa (in the Persian Empire), to which the king heeded and thus a great disaster was prevented.

This is a slice of history involving keeping and revealing secrets!

When you and I ponder over keeping secrets or revealing them, do we keep the common good in mind or are we self-centered to decide on the basis of what good would it do merely to us? Well, unlike Queen Esther you and I may or may not get to impact history. But, our keeping or revealing secrets may impact the handful of lives surrounding us.

As a Counsellor, I am made privy to a lot of things. And so, as some common practice principles, I have the following lines written in my Counselling Room:

“What you say to me stays with me, except –

If you are trying to harm someone.

If someone is trying to harm you.

If you are trying to harm yourself.”

This instills confidence in people and builds up trust over time.

It is not too hard to spill the beans on others. But, being a confidante is not too easy.

There are times when you are made a party to some sensational information and your stomach is churning within, to let it out.

There are times when you yourself are under too much emotional strain and just cannot bear the load of another ‘secret.’

There are times when you are full to the brim of confidential stories from all around you, and just need to let some out before you can stuff in more.

In all such times, remember to muse on the impact it would create on others.

The wise king Solomon wrote, “…the one who has understanding holds their tongue.  A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.”

There are times however, when secrets if kept hidden, would do more harm than good. Such times call for the exercise of prudent discretion and courage in divulging closely guarded facts.

The Bible says, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”

Keeping secrets speak of confidentiality and trustworthiness in a person. Revealing secrets if the situation so demands, speaks of wisdom.

Leaking secrets speaks of betrayal.

SECRETS: DO THEY REALLY HURT?

We All Have Stories We’ll Never Tell.

I don’t know who said this, but whoever did, couldn’t have said it better. The average person has at least one such secret that they’d rather take to the grave than tell someone else. We all lie, we all do wrong, and we all keep secrets, ours or others. No one is spared from this behavioral flaw. Yet, we have scriptures, reams and moral tales telling us to tell the truth, rather than keep secrets and not to create a mountain of lies to hide them. But the question is – Do secrets hurt? Or rather, do ALL secrets hurt?

Let’s first understand what a secret is. The dictionary meaning of a secret is –

Something that is kept or meant to be kept unknown or unseen by others.

But secrets are kept for different reasons –

  1. Commercial Secrets – Like Coca Cola’s recipe! In legal parlance, they’re also called ‘trade secrets’, because they give the owner an edge over the competition, and are the basis of their product’s/service’s success. Such secrets are required to be maintained for obvious commercial benefits. Because of their commercial nature, such secrets are outside the purview of discussions on secret keeping.
  2. Secrets that Hurt – Some parents don’t tell their children about a coming divorce, to protect them from the agony of watching their parents separate. Some family members do not reveal facts about their health to the rest of the family, or certain people in the family, to avoid causing pain. Some do not divulge facts about an affair so that the marriage or relationship stays intact. Such secrets, if revealed, hurt others and may destroy relationships, and are thus kept under wraps.
  3. Secrets of Others – These are not our own, but belong to others, possibly a friend, family member, or an acquaintance and we are forced to keep quiet about them either because of loyalty or because they are not ours to reveal. Either way we are the ones who suffer along with the ones who’s secrets they are.
  4. Little Secrets – These harmless little things, like a crush, a small indulgence you have, a tête-à-tête with a nice neighbour, or harmless gossip, they’re all a part of our lives. We keep them a secret because revealing them, though may not harm others, may cause discomfiture. Like how you lied about not drinking at a friend’s place to your parents? Yes, we all do that.

Recent research, reported in The Atlantic, suggests that keeping secrets adds on to the stress we already have in our urban, modern lives. This article discusses how the harm in secret keeping does not really lie in lying to hide it from others, but in how frequently it weighs on our conscience and causes us mental stress. To quote Slepian, who has researched extensively on this topic and who’s research the above article is about,

Just because the goal of the secret is to hide it, that doesn’t mean the secret is only happening during the brief moments of when you need to hide it…

That means, according to the research, when we keep a secret, it weighs every now and then on our mind, pinches us that we’re wrong, and causes the release of stress hormones, which in the long run, are harmful for our health. No wonder high stress jobs like those of Politicians, CEO’s, Police Officers, cause health issues! My point is not to generalize here but to observe the fact that a job where you have to not only  deal with crisis situations on a day to day basis, but also frequently withhold information, keep secrets and lie inventively, causes stress.

You can try it on yourself if you don’t believe me. Hide something from someone and lie about it, one day. Then tell a different lie about it to someone else the next day. And on the next to next day,  create yet another lie, this time conveyed to a third person. Carry this on for a few days, and then recollect all the lies connected to that one secret you wanted to hide. Can’t do it, right? Gets confusing and frustrating doesn’t it? Can you feel the stress one simple lie causes to you? Those researchers may have a point afterall!

And yet we keep secrets? Why?

I believe that it is because we all think that there are some secrets that need to be kept, because revealing them will only lead to unwanted chaos. 

Consider these examples –

A Man who had a fleeting affair with another woman  (not a physical one, but one with deep attachment) eventually realized that he was wronging his wife. He swore never to do it again, but keeps the affair a secret, for fear of harming his relationship and hurting his wife… Is he wrong to keep it a secret?

I plan a dinner with my gal-pals, and lie to my MIL, who loves a party of any kind, that she can’t come along because I have to go nurse a lonely friend. I lie because my friends and I need some time off from our families and because I know I won’t be able let my hair down with my MIL around. She’s my MIL after all…. Am I wrong in hiding this fact?  

My friend is going through a very painful period where she has found out that she can never be a mother. I keep it a secret from the rest of my friend group, on her request, because she does not want it revealed to everybody yet…. Am I wrong in hiding her secret?

I’m sure most of you will say ‘yes’ to the first and ‘no’ to the latter scenarios. Well, my answer is ‘no’ to all three. I believe that if a secret kept can save heartache in a relationship, prevent lasting wrong, prevent a broken home, a broken marriage, or a broken person, then it should be kept a secret. Of course, that excludes life and death situations or gross violations of human rights and morality.

I’ll bring to my aid that famous quote in the Mahabharata:

By telling an untruth for saving a life, one is not touched by sin.

There are times when a simple lie, for example one told to a child, that the needle won’t hurt, can soothe, can help, can keep someone happy. When I was practicing, I had to work on a lawsuit concerning the partition of ancestral property between the heirs. In the course of the lawsuit, it was discovered by our opponent’s side that one of the heirs on our side was adopted. The adopted boy didn’t know this fact. It led to a great rift in the already warring family and caused great pain to the parents of the adopted boy. He eventually left the family, even though the law makes no distinction between adopted and real children. Did the truth bring any good here?

Keeping a secret, therefore, is not a flaw necessarily. Whether it should be kept is dependent upon a person’s outlook, habits, the situation in which the secret originates and the reasons why it must be maintained. My point is that when we keep a secret, we need to ask ourselves a question, “Am I going to do everlasting or great harm to someone else, or to myself, by keeping it?” If your conscience answers in the affirmative, you should reveal it. The human mind and the way human moral principles have evolved, have ensured that its hardwired into our minds that lying is wrong, keeping secrets is wrong and that truth is supreme.

Pradita Kapahi, 2017

The Pradita Chronicles.

HOW THREE SISTERS LED HUMANITY TO DESTRUCTION?

I want to tell you a story about three sisters and their mother.

Arrogance, Pride & Ego are three very good sisters. And their beloved mother is Selfishness (Self  in short). Ego is the eldest daughter of Selfishness, Pride is second and the third one is Arrogance. Ego & Pride usually initiate and plan things in obedience to their mother Selfishness and Arrogance implements it publicly.  They never care for anybody. They don’t think what people will feel or how their actions can affect others. They only care about themselves and their mother, Self.

These three sisters continued these acts daily to please their mother, Self. They never restrained themselves to do what they wanted to do.

A day came when people started to avoid their mother, Selfishness. She was unable to understand why people were avoiding her and her daughters. She became isolated from all her friends and society. She became all alone. Self was the strength of her three daughters. Thus, they became very feeble and weak along with their mother. 

Finally, a day came when Self was found dead in her own apartment along with her three daughters. They all committed suicide.

What a sad end to the family of Self or Selfishness and her three daughters?

Truly, arrogance, pride and ego have destroyed many people. They have initiated quarrels and wars among families  and nations. They are on the verge of destroying the whole human kind.

There are two Greek forms of the word arrogance used in the Bible. One is Huperogkos means “swelling” or “extravagant” used to describe  “arrogant words.” The second one is Phusiosis, meaning a “puffing up of the soul” or “loftiness, pride.”

Gotquestions.com describes: “Arrogance is nothing more than an overt display of one’s sense of self-importance (2 Timothy 3:2). It is akin to that “it’s all about me” mindset that says, “The world revolves around me” (Proverbs 21:24).” 

Who will accept you when you try to declare that you are everything and everything should go according to you? The answer is known to us: “NOBODY.”

I saw this video on Youtube which made me feel scared. Click the link bellow to have a glance: 

Stay Blessed