Metanoia


Human emotions are one of the biggest mysteries of life. Within the seemingly calm surface of the lake of human conscious awareness hide the ripples of emotional upheavals. Time to time these ripples disturb the deceiving calmness of the surface and plunge us into a labyrinth of memories. These disturbances, like seismic activity continue for days together.

Two such emotions are Guilt and Repentance. Dictionary definition indicate:

Guilt: the act of having committed a specified or implied offence or crime

Repentance: Act of sincere regret or remorse

Words are incapable of capturing the true essence of any human emotion. Observe the definition of these two words closely, while they do capture what stems these emotions but they fail to capture what it means emotionally for an individual to experience them.  That’s a linguistic limitation that we have to live with.

Let’s look at these emotions beyond the linguistic framework. In life it’s a given that we would err and hence intentionally or unintentionally offend people as well. Most of us with a moderate sense of morality and ethics would experience one of the aforesaid emotion. Interestingly, I think, these two emotions are disparate yet sequential in nature.

After we have erred the first emotion that humans experience is that of guilt, which involves ingredients like disbelief, denial, self-pity, fear, ignorance and recurrence. With conscious and unconscious analysis of the situation this feeling of guilt gives way to repentance which involves ingredients like acceptance, self-assurance, learning and closure. In the fire of true repentance feeling of guilt ends and from it emerges a liberating wisdom. The general human tendency though is to wallow in guilt and languish in the improbable proposition of rolling back time and correcting the error. Unless one accepts that everybody is fallible and learn from the experience one can’t progress towards the stage of repentance and hence liberate from the incident.

No matter how strong the urge of the ego to believe it is right and deny the error, the longer the feeling of guilt lingers and prevents true repentance. Because:

  • Guilt is egoistic. Repentance is Humility
  • Guilt is denial. Repentance is acceptance
  • Guilt is open ended. Repentance is a closure
  • Guilt is ignorance; Repentance is Knowledge
  • Guilt is binding. Repentance is liberating

Next time when faced with a situation one could make the wise choice of progressing to repentance so that one could gain freedom from the incident only after gaining the wisdom.

Repentance

Advertisements

Anti-Fiefdom

Tags

, , , ,


British had to rule parts of the country by force, so they were afraid of dissent and revolt. They needed sedition laws to crush any semblance of protest. However, with independence, instead of having to subject to an external ruler by compulsion, we chose to willingly create a system which had a directly elected Government as an essential component. Importantly, this was our system, a system we created and entrusted it with the responsibility to protect us, accommodate us and make us all feel part of a shared vision. The system we created was also expected to be tolerant to the contradictions that lay within. This system gets its legitimacy because of the people willingly giving it the authority and it must be pointed out here that the people are not at the mercy of the system to gain legitimacy. Under these circumstances, the system and people manning such a system have the greatest responsibility to ensure that it is re-conciliatory, tolerant, accommodating, just and non-discriminatory. Any mistakes in this process could leave sections alienated or disillusioned and make the system appear partisan and self-imposing.

Unlike the British rule, because the system derives its legitimacy from voluntary acceptance by the people thus the system is not above its people. If there are dissenting voices against the people who run the system or the system itself, it is the responsibility of the system to create an atmosphere where dissenting voices, contradictory thoughts could be heard, debated and conflicts resolved amicably. Invoking laws of sedition or using army against its own people appears like the State imposing itself against the wishes of the people leading to the lowering of the legitimacy of the system. There are more instruments at the disposal of the system that could be used to amicably resolve issues than use laws of sedition or army against ones own people. We have seen instances of an over-arching system imposing itself in the past and it has had dire consequences.

The system we talk about comprises of The elected Legislative, the executive, the judiciary. Here, I think there is a need to distinguish the Executive from the Armed Forces. Often questions raised on the decisions of the executive are treated as an insult to the Armed Forces. It must be clarified here that Armed forces are outside the influence of any personal bias and hence are always respected for their dedication and bravery. Armed forces are trained to follow orders and not question it, for a democracy like ours to survive that’s how the system has been designed and I think that is how it should be. It is the executive that is given the responsibility of the running and the upkeep of the system. Any complaints with the system directly goes to the Executive, even in case of dissenting voices whatever part of the system they might be disagreeing with, the executive directly comes in the line of fire. For strengthening of our democracy it is better that ordinary citizens don’t just follow orders given by the system but time to time also raise their voices when they don’t agree with things. In fact our freedom struggle was to break away from a system that forced people to follow and prosecuted who didn’t. If we have replaced one oppressing system with another then the meaning of Independence or freedom is lost.

I believe that more serious issue than speaking against the system is spreading hatred against other communities or members of those communities. The hatred that is spread has often lead to violence. It is something that, I think challenges our unity in diversity theme. Even worse is the scenario where the people who are responsible for running the system and play the role of neutral arbiters become biased by taking sides in a conflict between communities or subvert the entire system to suit a select few. In both these cases both democracy and justice get harmed. Hence, I think that time has come for us to put the laws of sedition away and give respect to all the people who sacrificed their lives for our Independence. We need to treasure this gift. All actions must be considered Nationalistic as it only helps the system to become what it was envisioned to be and that way we become more stronger and respectable as a country.

Jai Hind!

ashok

Even the Odds

Tags

, , ,


Much talked about Odd-Even formula ended yesterday. As people assess the impact this has had, I don’t want to talk about air quality nor do I want to talk about any political gains for any political party. There is something else that caught my eye during the lead-up to the implementation of the scheme and the aftermath, I will train my focus firmly on that.

As the odd-even scheme was announced during the fag end of last year, it became the butt of many jokes and internet trolls/memes. Without going into details, the central theme of these trolls or memes were about how citizens would work towards defeating the scheme. This, as per me, is very noteworthy. Citizens working to defeat the scheme! Many experts also predicted the failure of the scheme due to inadequate infrastructure to support it and people using their ‘jugaad’ mentality to beat the system.

I thought to myself what have we Indians, made ourselves into? Here is a city that has been reported to have the world’s most polluted air. The citizens of this city are suffering the severe repercussions of the poor quality of air, here was a scheme that was at least trying to do something with honesty and yet the general belief was that its very own citizens would work towards finding ways to beat the scheme! Whose city is this? The citizens or the Governments? On one hand we complain about everything we see around us, and yet when we get an opportunity to participate directly in improving things, we would become self-defeating? Are we becoming a set of people who forget their responsibility immediately after electing a Government and believe that Government would magically improve things without needing our involvement?

Of course, I don’t blame the people who were sure about the failure of the scheme as we have become set of people who park in no-parking, drive in opposite direction in a one-way etc. I believe Nation building cannot be entirely outsourced to Governments run by whimsical political parties. It needs a constant involvement of ordinary citizens like us more than we think.

Nevertheless, coming back to the odd-even scheme. Probably it might not have had any impact on the air quality, however where it did succeed is it made people again part of the nation building exercise. No Government can ever succeed if people don’t participate. Instead of finding ways to defeat the scheme, people found ways to make it work and weathered and inconvenience that came along with it. Of course there were heavy fines that were acting as a deterrent for people to violate, however the success was huge compared to the extent of failure predicted through the circulated jokes/memes or expert opinions.

I believe that we cannot keep complaining about everything and sit and do nothing. More importantly it is not large actions that build a nation, it is small steps taken every day by ordinary citizens like us that will go a long way in building a city/country we want to be in. I congratulate citizens of Delhi in facing the inconvenience and yet, like the capital, showing the way for the rest of the country.

NEW DELHI, INDIA - DECEMBER 30: A dummy of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal is seen on the road promoting odd-even campaign on December 30, 2015 at Ferozshah Road in New Delhi, India. The odd-even number plate policy will come to force in Delhi from January 1 till January 15. Delhiites stand divided over the implementation of the odd-even plan, with some supporting the novelty of congestion-free roads while others mocking the impracticality of it. (Photo by Ravi Choudhary/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

NEW DELHI, INDIA – DECEMBER 30: A dummy of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal is seen on the road promoting odd-even campaign on December 30, 2015 at Ferozshah Road in New Delhi, India. The odd-even number plate policy will come to force in Delhi from January 1 till January 15. Delhiites stand divided over the implementation of the odd-even plan, with some supporting the novelty of congestion-free roads while others mocking the impracticality of it. (Photo by Ravi Choudhary/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Memorabilia

Tags

, ,


Childhood. I am sure the word conjures up vivid memories of the past. Our memories and moments of nostalgia are so strongly tied with our senses. The activation of any of our senses has the power of transcending us to a time when life seemed simple, easy and playful. Smells, Sounds, Visuals, touch or taste all have this mystical ability.

Often these triggered childhood memories that rush-in to fill our consciousness are dormant memories that even we didn’t know existed. Certainly the original experience must have been very intense hence the mere recollection sends us into a state of momentary trance reinforcing the like or dislike of that particular sensual experience. For example there could be a particular smell possibly that of perfume used by a parent or the incense stick used by grandmother that could be linked with memory of being reprimanded for poor performance in school. The intensity of that experience intertwined with the smell could make one detest the smell for life. Any semblance of that smell anytime in the future could trigger a mental state similar to the one experienced long ago.

Similarly there acoffeere sensual experiences that might not be linked with any other positive or negative memory but could still be intense experiences on their own. It could be a dish tasted or a TV Series watched or a lullaby sung by mother or smell of sweet meats cooked at home and many such instances during childhood that completely enthralled us. A conversation with an old friend or conversation with people of the same age group or conversation with anyone about similar topic could trigger a wave of such dormant memories that can hit us with such throbbing intensity that it gets us teary eyed.

I have many such instances when a sudden wave of nostalgic memory hits me and transcends me to a different era and I relive those moments. As finer details about the memory keep bubbling up to consciousness the ecstasy of the moment becomes stronger. How I wish I could conjure up such memories at will, however sometimes the triggers to these memories could be as mystical as the memory itself and not always available to the conscious mind. I have come to realize now that these memories of childhood are like a lit camphor, they vanish very fast after burning with intensity.

Incoherence

Tags

, ,


I think tolerance is a negative word. It has embedded in it a sense of ‘ignoring wrongs’. When I say I won’t tolerate you anymore, basically I am saying, what was already objectionable but was being ignored would no longer be ignored and will be retaliated against. Tolerance thus becomes all about a subjective and imaginary threshold level. Whenever this subjective and imaginary threshold level has been crossed, society has paid a heavy price [84, 92, 02 etc.]. We, the people of India, need to decide if we want to become a tolerant society or do we want to remain an appreciating and accepting society? As a society do we want to be at the mercy of subjective threshold levels?

I would like to point out here that traditionally India has remained an appreciating society. Over centuries people of this land have appreciated differences and that is how it has become a melting pot. A melting pot of cultures, religions, ethnicity, linguistics that also get morphed with a unique local flavor not to be found anywhere in the world. It continues to be so. Such a society doesn’t need any lectures on diversity or acceptance of diversity or unity in diversity, least of all from its politicians. Our constitution very strongly embodies this diversity. I have always believed that Politics has failed the people of India. Our Prime Minister happened to say somewhere that till he became PM Indians were ashamed to be Indians. I completely disagree, I disagree with all force at my disposal. I wrote about this earlier and I will say it again that if we were and are ashamed of anything it is our politicians and that hasn’t changed much. Our politicians continue to embarrass us on various forums and occasions. If we have been tolerant towards anything it’s been towards our politicians and if I may add, we continue to be so.

Even today the question that has been raised is not about India’s ability to appreciate and accept diversity, but it is about whether political parties are ready to leave their politics of hatred. I refuse to fall trap to trivial turf battles between political parties especially because the idea of India is greater than any party or leader. Are political parties ready to accept India with all its diversity without becoming ignorant of their own wrongs [Un-touchability, Shah Bano, Ram Mandir etc.]? If any individual or a group has expressed their discomfort with a situation, they are not questioning the intention of the Indian masses, rather they are questioning the character of politics and politicians particularly of those who are in position of power and authority. Response to such grievances cannot be lecture on how India has been great or why India is great rather it has to be what the politicians are doing to protect this greatness?

The question we ask to our politicians is: We are accepting and appreciative of our diversity but are you? Till the answer is clear, I request all to step away from this territorial battle and be vigilant of politicians’ responses, especially actions, as actions speak louder than words.

Aamir