Showing posts with label Conflicts and Violence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Conflicts and Violence. Show all posts

Friday, January 01, 2016

Ze List v4.0 | Manna for your soul

Yes, it's that time of the year when billions of people around the world, will transcend language, religious faith and borders, to celebrate the end of one year and celebrate the beginning of the next. 

And its time for Ze List.
The world has been changing and so has Ze List. This year, I look at all the ways we survived amidst all the chaos and I hope this serves as a mirror to ourselves and hopefully a way to correct our course for the year ahead.

Our Father..
We clutched at straws of faith for some peace and grace from our heavenly Father.
Since the dawn of time, we have been fighting. 
In the beginning, it was for sustenance and to survive. Today, we fight over perceived hurt and imagined supremacy. 
We fought, killed, plundered. All in His name. Its always a wonderful when we say we are fighting for God, because if someone dares question the supremacy of my God, that qualifies me to eliminate him. After all, nearly all of our religious texts allow us to take an eye for an eye. Do we need a better reason to kill?

Who art in Heaven
We reached out to the heavens, to planets nearby. Our space missions made mammoth strides and we sat back and marveled. It is said traveling, like astronomy, is a humbling activity. It broadens our perspective and makes us realize how puny and futile our thoughts and aspirations are. 
We don't have to search far and wide, because the Heaven of our Father isn't in outer space. It is within you, within each of us. 

Hallowed by Thy name.
Which brings me to why we wanted to kill.
Back in the Middle Ages, Christian armies of the West plundered and decimated populations that didn't share their faith. Ofcourse, they were just doing what was right.
Today, radical Muslims think their brand of Islam should prevail and everyone should be a Muslim. ISIS isn't doing anything that the West hasn't already done in the past. Yet we find this atrocious and alarming. Suddenly, everyone wants to brand Islam evil. Every Muslim is a terrorist and every Christian, the defender of humanity. When did it become evil to be ambitious. 

Thy Kingdom come..
False prophets and doctrines have always tried to predict the apocalypse. The prophets don't want you to read the portion of the Bible that tells us that He will return at a time of His choosing, and at a time when we are most distracted. Major TV networks like God TV have been prophesying the End Times since the last many years. Gullible viewers have been coerced to donate millions because we need to prepare Israel, God's chosen land, for His coming again. I don't have anything against Israel but what about the millions who live in squalid conditions right in our backyards? There are millions who go to bed hungry every single night. There are millions who will die a death that we can prevent within the next 365 days. 

Thy Will be done..
In the many lessons I've learned in the last decade or so, I've realized one truth - We must be obedient to His will, and patient to His purpose.
As sure as we are about the year that just passed, we can be sure that we will all have moments in the year ahead when our obedience and patience will be tested. 
We will have situations that will tempt us to do what we want instead of what He wants. We will have times when we question His purpose and refuse to wait on Him. Today, resolve yourself to be more obedient and patience than the year that just passed.

On earth as it is in heaven.
As creatures that come with an 'Use by' date, we must realize that we will all die a certain death. Not one of us will have immortal lives. Yet, there are people who have walked this earth, whose lives continue to inspire us. People whose lives changed the course of humanity, not by force but by pure inspiration.
So the question here is - What are you doing today that will guarantee you an immortal life? 

Give us this day our daily bread
Many of us are capable of meeting our primary needs of food, clothing and shelter. Yet, as we make our weekend trips to our places of worship, we will drive by people who are less fortunate than us. I find it strange that we are patient enough to sit through a 45 minute discourse on being charitable, compassionate and forgiving yet we can't seem to practice it in our lives everyday. You and I don't pray for our daily bread, but there are people who have been praying for theirs. Are we ready to answer their prayers?

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us
'To err is human, to forgive is divine' is a phrase that gave birth to a more popular modern mutant - 'To err is human, to forgive is not mine'. 
We might chuckle at the humor of this, but there is more truth to this than we'd like to admit. 
Our species has turned in to one large village where we are just itching to fight with someone, anyone who dare bump into us in the wrong way. Many Western countries (and Russia) have been waging multi-billion dollar wars that sprouted out of nothingness and their perceived sense of hurt. 
The Americans and their allies have been fighting wars since the last decade and half and I'm amazed how futile all their technology has been in getting the job done. The Russians haven't seemed to learned any lessons here.
Is this a good time to remind them that we must learn to forgive more eagerly and earnestly today than to sign a truce to end a needless conflict tomorrow?

Lead us not into temptation
Billions got hooked to consumerism. We are tempted to buy things we don't need to impress people we don't care with money that we could have used for better causes. 
My parents come from a major city in the southern Indian State of Kerala, where until about a few years ago, people lived simple lives. Honest and laid-back lives. People didn't worry about credit cards and loans were something that only the under-privileged and the over-ambitious took. 
Today, people worry about not having that SUV if their neighbor already has a sedan. Families flock to over-sized glitzy malls to gawk at designer brands and gobble on food like they haven't eaten in ages. 
Back in Europe and the West, people and their governments have been slipping deeper into a debt that threatens to pull in anyone else who will lend an helping hand. 

But deliver us from evil
ISIS isn't the only evil of our times. ISIS is just the collective expression of millions of people who have suffered from oppressive Western governments. Governments that have discriminated and persecuted Muslims for years, because it was the easiest thing to do. 
Today, Western citizens depend on their governments to protect and deliver them from evil. If results are anything to go by, this is but a false sense of security. 
As Indians in India, we don't need to look beyond our shores to understand what discrimination is. Nearly every person living in India would have faced some form of discrimination in their lives and this is true no matter which country you are in. 
We prefer to be cloaked in a false sense of security, rather than in prayer.

For Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory
In the last decade or so, millions of people have lost their homes and the livelihood and loved ones, because of wars, man-made conflicts, human disasters and natural calamities. Recent statistics show that there has been a 100% increase in the numbers of refugees, in the year 2015 alone. Governments refused to open their homes and their borders to this exodus of humanity. Countries that were built on immigrants didn't want anything to do with this human crisis. 
These are the same countries who will talk eloquently about compassion and charity. 

For ever and ever..
I don't know about the 'forever' part of my life. I don't know when I will be taken off the shelf because I reached my expiry date. Millions of people who will party to welcome the new year will not survive to party by the end of 2016. Our earth, on the other hand, will outlive and outlast every single one of us. How we treat our earth will reveal our true inner-self. 
Because we can't depend on governments to do our hard work. 
Because unlike us, our politicians won't have to live through the consequences of their decisions. 
Because earth is the only place we can survive on, let's make our stand here and now.

I hope you've all had a wonderful learning experience in the year that just passed and I pray that we all survive to read my post next year. 
Personally, and as always, I have a lot to thank God for this year. 
'Hold the Thought, Get the Point' successfully transitioned into a blog where I write posts on spirituality as opposed to social and political satire. 
While rankings slipped, I am finally glad that I am touching atleast some of you through my interpretation of words in the Bible and I hope to inspire you to touch someone else's life too - in your own unique way.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Beg your Pardon? [357/365]

It's like the morning after a crazy night of sax.
A suicide bomber killed 8 people at a political party in Peshawar, Pakistan and a car bomb killed 6 people in Damascus. So it's business as usual.

Newspapers were filled with reports of how demented er.. disappointed doomsday supporters had to go back to work today. But you must give them credit for stocking up on the essentials. Atleast they won't have to run out for groceries for a few years now.

In frigid Delhi, hundreds of people demonstrating their frustration against lax security measures towards women endured a cold morning shower. The Prime Ministeress of Tamil Nadu, Ms Jayalalithaaaaa has planned to lodge a complaint against Delhi for wasting so much of water.

Narendra Modi, sweeps Gujarat to become its Chief(tain) for the third consecutive time. Watch out Sonia, here's another Modi that will take India by a storm.

The Holy Father of Catholics Pope Benedict XVI visited his former butler Paolo Gabriele in prison and pardoned him for leaking highly confidential papal documents.

The US is on a 'fiscal cliff'. Just what is it with the Americans and their wild terms?

Indian Cricket is tottering from one match to another like a bad Bollywood sock er.. song and dance routine.

And here's some news that could cheer our vainglorious politicians- Hundreds queue up for Christmas food parcels in Ireland. 

Well, what do I say. Christmas is here!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Batman vs Joker [205/365]

In the many years that I've interacted with westerners, one common perception is how Indians are largely backward and addicted to Bollywood. 'Primitive' is how many Americans described Indians.
While I don't agree that we are primitive, I do agree that we have a problem with Bollywood and an unfounded obsession with cricket. America, on the other hand, has her own litany of social ills. Primary among them is the worrying reality of the country that has more guns per capita than any other nation in the world.

Gun control has been America's Achilles heel. Successive presidents have failed to implement stricter gun control laws and have always buckled under the clout of weapons manufacturers.

On July 20th, James Eagan Holmes, aka The Joker, opened fire using multiple weapons, at movie goers who'd come to catch the midnight premiere of 'The Dark Knight Rises'. Holmes, dressed in tactical clothing, killed 12 and critically injured 58 others.
He was arrested shortly afterwards wandering in a park by law enforcement agents.

The suspect has confessed to the crime while displaying absolutely no remorse for killing innocent people indiscriminately. Holmes had also booby-trapped his tiny one bedroom apartment a short distance away, so that anyone who entered the apartment will be killed alongwith any of the evidence they would be looking for. Thankfully, law enforcement agents were able to neutralize much of the explosives while retaining all of the evidence.

Investigations reveal that Holmes was a honor student and a well behaved man. Smarter than most of his peers, he excelled in academics. Holmes meticulously planned and prepared his massacre by buying guns and ammunition legally over the internet and even maintaining a journal explaining his intentions and mailing it to his doctor just a couple of days before the shooting.
What is surprising is how Holmes has behaved since the massacre. His plea for 'diminished responsibility' is never going to hold water. Maybe we need to learn a lesson or two on how to treat psycho killers and mass murderers from the Americans.

While incidents like this reignite debates on gun control laws, this couldn't have come at a better time for the Americans. Tragic as it seems, the only way societies can be safe will be to have air-tight gun control and state laws.

For critics and racist Americans, who like to complain about cheap Indians who steal their jobs and can't deal with social ills, this massacre comes as a shocking reminder that they need to perhaps fix themselves first.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sound Ok [204/365]

Trouble in paradize Source: The Internet
Maruti Suzuki. The poster child of Indian Automobile Industry. A brand that monopolized Indian roads until the late '90s when the government opened the floodgates of foreign investment.

In came Ford, Mercedes, Opel Astra, Fiat and a dozen other automobile majors with deeper pockets and better products. Maruti, the giant slipped.

Having seen brands like Jaguar, Audi and BMW, Maruti always appeared inferior in my eyes. I couldn't believe my eyes when I first saw the flimsy built of the Omni. It was ridiculous that the entire car would reverberate every time the gear changed or when the door were shut (not slammed, mind you).

Loosing ground as it did, Maruti had to innovate. And I'm using the term innovate very loosely. Some of the more disastrous products like the Zen 2004 and later models like an ugly love-child of the Russian Skoda Lada and a Indian bullock cart. I would be surprised if they even had a designer in their rolls.
In comes Suzuki. Thankfully, the Japanese have always been known to create art out of nothing. Case in point- Origami.
One of the best cars to have come out of the MS stable has been the Swift. Derived out of the concept Swift S and has been Maruti's most successful car since the veritable Maruti 800.

But it was too good to last.
As with any Public Sector (PSU) company in India, trade unions have always been a double edged sword. Protecting workers who are savagely loyal to the Union while pushing the management to to the edge, the Maruti Suzuki Worker's Union (MSWU) has been agitating for several years.

On the 18th July, violence broke out at a plant which produces about a third of Maruti's annual output and two of its blockbuster models- the Swift and the Swift DZire.
While the storm has been brewing for a while, last week's agitation left one senior manager dead and several seriously injured. Some strict action by the Management led to a lockout which means the company continues to suffer a loss of about Rs 80 Crores (approx $800 million) a day besides translating into a longer waiting period for those who had already booked for their vehicles.

Maruti has never been known as a company who is swift and agile but if it wants to have any hopes of surviving in a market as India's, it needs to cut some of its flab and fast.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

GuestSpeak: When pictures speak

Carter's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph
Before I come to the point it’s important for one to understand where I am coming from. Here is an account of a relevant story that I feel would help me express my feelings and the message I am trying to convey in a better way.

"I am depressed ... without phone ... money for rent ... money for child support ... money for debts ... money!!! ... I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain ... of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners ... I have gone to join Ken (recently deceased colleague Ken Oosterbroek) if I am that lucky" excerpts from suicide note of Kevin Carter who took his own life by taping one end of a hose to his pickup truck’s exhaust pipe and running the other end to the passenger-side window. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carter's prize winning photograph was sold to the New York Times; the photograph first appeared on March 26, 1993. Hundreds of people contacted the newspaper to ask the fate of the girl. The paper reported that it was unknown whether she had managed to reach the feeding center. In 1994, the photograph won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography.

My inspiration to write this post came from above mentioned story, my own real experience follows -
Few years back I watched a programme on migrating animals, where an injured baby baboon unable to keep up with pace of other baboons is left behind by the mother. Towards the end of the programme they showed baby baboon being watched by some vultures while mother though concerned about the baby but left with no choice decides to move on with the rest. Being an animal lover I could not bear the thought of baby being attacked by the vultures so I immediately switched over the channel .I kept on brooding over and wondered why couldn't the camera man rescue the baby, treat him, feed him and drop him where he belonged, I cried and cried for months together finally went into acute depression. There on I am not allowed to watch discovery channel. I totally understand the law of nature and phrases like 'Survival of the fittest'. But we as human beings and an intelligent species can avert few of the tragedies that we tend to ignore.

Several times we watch a man or a woman beaten up in an inhuman way or someone run down by a vehicle bleeding to death I can cite any number of such examples that I must have watched on news channels. In each case I have simply switched over the channels for the reason that neither I can bear the inhuman act nor insensitivity of the camera person, or an anchor who takes pride in narrating the whole incident that took place in front of his or her eyes but made no effort to save a life. Their selfish concern seems to be making breaking news that goes like “murder caught on camera" and I wonder is the camera person/photographer as a human being not  morally responsible to avert such tragedies or  should they simply concentrate on what they are getting paid for ??

There is a need for all such photographers, camera men, journalists to take a lesson from Carters case that was much criticized for having not saved the child, who while on a trip to Sudan, was preparing to photograph a starving toddler trying to reach a feeding center when a vulture landed nearby. Carter reported to have taken the picture, because it was his "job title" and leaving.  He came under criticism for failing to help the girl.

The St. Petersburg Times in Florida said this of Carter: "The man adjusting his lens to take just the right frame of her suffering, might just as well be a predator, another vulture on the scene."
Alka Narula (c)

Written for 'Hold the Thought, Get the Point' by our guest blogger Alka Narula.
Find more information about her at Indiblogger

Friday, March 02, 2012

Fighting Fair [61/365]

See momma, I can throw as well as I can lie er.. argue
In the Bible, it is foretold that towards the end of days, you'll have sons fighting against fathers, daughters against their mothers. Absolute anarchy.

If the ruckus between the advocates of law and the police is anything to go by, this could it. But then many saw this coming. Advocates have been the unsavory butts of a million jokes. By virtue of their profession, they are stripped of the constitutional right to protest.

While the losses keep piling up, it is interesting to know how we got the rat and the mongoose at each others throat. Apparently, a cop did his job (for once) and showed the nerve to catch an advocate who violated a certain traffic law. While the cop has been accused of assaulting the violator what is interesting is how the city's lawyers decided to react. Instead of owning up to a clear case of violation, they've taken the moral high horse. What followed was a blockage that lasted 7 hours on a busy weekday across some of the busiest thoroughfares. (More dope on the chaos here)
The rest, as they say, is history.

Add to this heady concoction a bunch of kitschy journalists out for their daily scoop and you end up with a city where chaos rules.
Where is Robocop when you need him?

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Bad Day [4/365]

Some days are simply a bad day to wake up. Or for breakfast.

Looking at the news today I had more than my daily dose of bad news, aka bloodshed, violence and death.
It was news of the enchanting Syrian conflict, ongoing descent into anarchy in Iraq and it was business as usual in Pakistan

While it is true that we can live in harmony (history has shown that we did, once upon a time) it is greed and ego that divides us. But many a times, it's not the people who really fight among each other, but the politicians who instigate them. Why? Because it is always better to divide and rule

When egos are bruised and tempers fuse, what billions of dollars in arms and ammunition can't do, a simple word and an heart-felt gesture can.

But until we are able to eliminate the middlemen to peace (read 'politicians'), we will continue to spar like unwitting gladiators in the giant theater of politics.

Loving people is hard work, indeed!

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