Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest..

 

THAT’S ABSURD

I am learning so many new things in these COVID times. Our life style has totally altered and the way we spend our time has changed.. we long to go back to the normal times and are scared of facing the “New Normal” .

Lockdown has given me a lot of time in my own company. Which I usually don’t like doing at all. I like to meet people and talk to them and usually thrive on these conversations and participate in lot of activities be it at my workplace or neighborhood.

So in that way this lockdown has been very difficult for me. Phone calls or video calls are not the same. But still we are managing.

In one such call with my niece where we were ranting about our lockdown woes. She said she had become an Absurdist now.. “I don’t believe that there is any meaning in life…” she said.

This got me thinking. I dived into the Internet to find out whether this was even a legitimate word or not. To my surprise it is.

All human beings seem to crave meaning, search for it, and create it. We constantly make up stories out of our lives to give them meaning.  And we search for explanations for the universe in general. Religion may be the most popular source of meaning for people; believing in a god or gods, a spirit-world, an afterlife, or a holy book, or practicing ritual, prayer, or meditation makes life meaningful for many people. And religion is not the only possibility: people find meaning for their lives in nationalism, science, Marxism, art, and many other beliefs and practices.

Absurdists see all of these attempts as ultimately doomed, in a sense. Not that absurdists think it’s pointless to do anything, but they believe that no matter what you do, you cannot escape the absurdity of being a human being.  It’s not exactly the universe which is absurd in absurdism, but rather the fact that humans are innately driven to look for meaning in an ultimately meaningless universe. Whatever stories we tell to give meaning to our lives are just that — stories, fictions.

I know the above philosophy may not be acceptable to all. I don’t mean to offend anyone’s belief.

But sometimes in the time of despair we might have all gone through this kind of phase where life seems totally meaningless.. 2020 is that kind of a phase for me. With the pandemic, the super cyclone, the gas leak, earthquake, planes falling out of the sky, the locust attack everything coming in quick succession has really made me wonder that the things we used to strive for are actually so meaningless. We are actually surviving without many thing that we thought we could never do without.

Its basically the pandemic which has altered everything. Businesses are closed and people who were supposed to be affluent are also struggling to juggle the big EMIs, bills, fees, rent to be paid and zero or drastically reduced income. The poor are absolutely on the road. And all this in a matter of three months.

Really makes me wonder we study all our life to make a career, a living. We spend our whole life in building up a career or a business. Just to see it topple and turn into dust in a matter of days. Because of reasons which are way beyond our scope to thought. Isnt it all meaning less?

The daily positive thoughts for the day which I get through Social media and the inspirational stories all seem meaningless once I watch the news. Its seems all gloom and doom everywhere.

Hopefully, these dark clouds will lift soon from this world and my thoughts too.

By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding He set the heavens in place; by His knowledge the watery depths were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.

 

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.” 

Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor...

 

Take hold of instruction; actively seek it, grip it firmly and do not let go.
Guard her, for she is your life.

 

THIS PARTICULAR FANATICISM IS QUITE MEANINGLESS

Can the knowledge of a particular language be the sign of intelligence of a person? Can the fluency in a particular language be an indication of one’s educational background and character certificate? Sounds gibberish, right?

Well not completely. This is just a reflection of how the attitude of people in Indian subcontinent has shaped up over decades now. Undying love for “English” is an IT thing (rather a HIT thing).

People getting mocked for not being able to converse in English at native level¹. People finding themselves to be in a fix, out of place, losing confidence, nurturing low self esteem and inferiority complex are direct of shoot offs of our fetish for one particular “International Language” English. We (A majority) somehow have come up with the terms that mastering this particular language is a ticket to a better treatment in masses ; a person who can speak English impeccably is a genius and if some accent is sprinkled he/she is already a star – knowledge, character, education, skill doesn’t really matter. Look at the wannabe insta stars, you will know what I mean 😁.

Let me share few examples/ incidents that I came across or heard:

*I heard people praising someone who got expert skills in English “Kya angrezi bolta hai, wah!” (He speaks so good in English) never mind the grasp on subject matter is ZERO.

*My friend once shared with me his experience at his daughter’s school. The poor child faced the ire of the teachers because she wasn’t able to converse in a free flow manner in English and was comfortable in her mother tongue. Such a shame!

*If a person belonging to a foreign land (read West) speaks in any of our regional language though broken we go gaga over the attempt. “So Cute” is the expression that follows our excitement (not referring to Donald Trump saying Swamy Vivekanand 😁). But when the tables turn and someone among us try to speak the broken English we brand him “Illiterate” literally. What double standards!

*Parents insisting kids to speak in English, it’s a matter of fame while on the other hand more and more parents are coming out saying “our kids can’t speak/ read/ write our mother tongue” almost without any sense of attachment. I am at loss of words!

*People refraining from talking in the language they are comfortable with just not to be jeered by peers. How sad!

Well I can go on and on with such illustrations not so great to put forward for any country / society. In short we are focussing on the mode/ language of instruction and completely ignoring the importance of effective communication or the content intended to be delivered.

Talking about our overtly attachment with this particular language, light must be thrown at helm of affairs in other parts of the world, countries which we see as synonyms for “Development, technology, power, economy” and every possible positive superlative. I live in Belgium, have been to France, Germany, Netherlands; Have heard the social addresses of public figures from Japan, China and the counties aforementioned. No one carries a chip of shame up their sleeve while talking in their respective mother tongue. On contrary they are proud. Mother tongue is given the utmost importance right from the beginning. Schools that lay foundation and aid development of a child from the grassroots level emphasize specifically on the country’s mother tongue. If you are a foreigner in these lands you got only two choices either integrate with them via their language or be ready to pay exorbitant charges for translation be it education in schools or otherwise. I myself have paid extra charges for translator service for driving test because of my incapacity to understand French fast 😁. In a way they are promoting their language by using simple economics, period! Priority to the mother tongue is something we must learn from these countries.

Why? Language is a part of what and who we are. It’s an integral part of our history, heritage and culture. Precisely ROOTS! Can a tree stand still and upfront if it is alienated from the ground, if roots are uprooted? How meaningful it would be to have mastered a foreign language and yet not knowing the homeland? If we distance ourselves from our history there’s no way our future generations will know the past and future is definitely not bright.

I may sound as a fanatic talking over the clouds but a study is available that proves that for kids who start learning their and in their native language cognitive developments are better. Expression and communication comes easy to them. Better understanding of curriculum and positive attitude towards school are few more points to count. They feel more at home. This is just a bird’s eye view.

I want to reiterate that my argument is not against any language but the meaningless romanticism we have inbred within ourselves about a particular language belittling our own identity. I myself went to a school that had English as its medium of instruction but my teachers never made their students feel bad about their shortcomings in a language and most importantly my school had my mother tongue (Telugu) as one of the subjects and my parents wanted me to learn it. At home too we had an environment where we spoke to each other in our native language. English was just another language, a language for international exposure ( we were not aware or exposed to other world languages at that time), case closed. Rather the entire emphasis was on developing thoughts, transformation of a person to personality, ethical behaviour, earning dignity and respect. In short the purpose of imparting education was fulfilled to the core. It was not washed down by a meaningless glorification of a foreign language because it is spoken by “Fair Skinned” (another obsession of my land sadly).

A petty request: I am not out of “Parenting Mode” of last week’s topic, excuse me for that and kindly bear with me. Parents please make sure that you encourage kids talking (the least) in native language. If you could impart the knowledge if native language nothing beats that. Remember their thoughts have to be eloquent and it’s never about which language they chose to.

* Teachers: Please considering your own status don’t shame any kid for inability to converse in English. It’s just a language and can be worked upon. If the confidence gets shattered that might be something beyond repair.

* Schools / Authorities: Please focus on giving a buoyant support to the local language. Its a way to save our heritage and culture.

* Everyone: Learn as many languages as you can but remember your mother tongue is your inner feelings you share with your mother (loved/ closed ones), that comfort is the ultimate. And if Englishmen are speaking in English, it’s their own so nothing so great about that!

And here I rest my case.