Thoughts & Reflections

Think beautiful, live beautiful.

Category: Poverty

Lost childhood – II

Society evolves in a diverse and a complex manner. Over time it gets segregated into a number of layers. The structure, in most parts, is highly unstable and puts immense pressure on those that live within the lowest layers here. Somewhere down the line the uppermost layers could extend their hands to those below and pick them up. This could lead to a lot more strength and conformity within the social outlook of a nation grappling with so many open problems. There are domains within various systems where in you would find it hard to figure out problems. That is a positive and an optimistic condition. While there are areas where one needs to have a glancing look and issues glare back at you. It is a sad and a depressing problem, not because there exist so many difficulties, but due to the fact that there are so few even worried about considering these problems let alone solving them for ever.

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A five hour visit to a railway station can introduce you to the widespread gaps in the Indian socio-economic ecosystem. Sanitation, cleanliness, bloating population count, sub par ticketing system, insufficient policemen, etc. etc. are just a few impressions of the depressing lives that the moderate earning class of our society live in. A walk through the scenes and you would start understanding the difficult tasks that the  administration has to deal with. There is a old lady in a dilapidated condition with mosquitoes all over her body she has befriended now, a beggar with limbs almost worthless, people lying all around in filth and squalor we could hardly imagine to even see, children lying around in hope their helpless parents might get them something to play with, a child using a bottle as a ball to play with, a mother breast-feeding her little kid out their in the open, mothers rag-picking with their kids all around, etc. etc. These conditions can bring any considerate person to tears within.

Life, they say is not fair at all. This is an understanding we have developed over our lives. Yet, as humans we could some how try and balance out to make the system a bit more fair. A lot of systems have evolved to build an egalitarian society. Any society could prosper if the individuals believe in equanimity in availability of resources and opportunities. There is a lot one could actually do and even very little efforts lead to positive results. Take for example, whenever you see a child begging, query him about whether he goes to a school. If he does not, one could tell him about the fact that he has rights to free education and he could get food and amenities to play. Even this simple act, would put this idea within his subconscious mind. Do not shush him like a dog (for there is a dying self confidence within these children) and even pay him anything, for that might make them even for reliable on the heinous act of begging. This can be a very small little step one could do, which could actually be a lot more better rather than scorning at them.

Time for these kids seems to have come to a standstill, life is a fog filled with sadness, and yet nature seems to have bestowed them with a wonderful ability – the ability to smile even when life is so screwed. Try shaking hands with them, make them laugh and you would have done a kind act for your day :).

Of altruism, perspective & compassion

Every weekend we plan a movie which is followed by a dinner that makes up for a wonderful get-together. This sort of has become a wonderful routine for us friends. This weekend we did a very simple act – which brings one to think upon the way we spend our precious resources.

So, after the movie, as we moved to a restaurant, a young boy (approximately 11 years of age), in a dilapidated condition came up to us begging for money. He seemed pretty afraid of us. A friend of mine called him up, asked why he wanted any money. He answered back saying he was hungry. He handed the boy a packed bag of dosa-sambhar, with a water bottle and the boy seemed pretty gratified with us. The look on his face was very satisfying for us too.

He told us that he had lost his parents, when he was young. He studies in some government school and usually takes his lunch there. He has no way of getting any dinner and therefore, has to beg for money to get his dinner.

It brings us to the very basic question that I have pondered over ever since I started earning and living independently i.e. are we justified (ethically) in living a luxurious life (in comparison to that poor boy)?The whole argument is why do we not give a thought about the problems that such citizens of our nation face. We keep crying and cringing about the petty problems that hinder our progress. We cry about the lack of comfort, the dearth of relationships in our lives, the lack of excess money, of poor quality food, of not working on cutting edge technology etc. etc. Yet, we tend to be ignorant of the common day problems of such poor people living amongst us. We tend to ignore our basic humane qualities of compassion and love towards them.

We tend to spend excessively on our essentials, our source of entertainment in life. At times, I ponder, if we ever give a little more thought to the way we spend our own money, we might be able to support or even feed one such hungry soul. Yet, we, the most educated people of our nation, tend to focus more on our small, narrow minded vision of the world.

There seems to be a lack of awareness and willingness within people (including me) in trying  go out of their way and make someone happy. We have a notion of hoarding money that creates wealth and yet no adds a minimalistic contribution to our society.  We tend to believe that it is the bank account balance that is the final measurement of our worth; a notion that really has objective aim to it.

Altruism is a non-gratifying goal for a large percentage of people. It involves self-denial, abnegation of one’s desires in order to part away with some of the pleasures one could create for one self. One tends to pursue happiness from a very self-ridden perspective. As long as the domain of one’s contribution is confined to the realm of him/herself the value proposition of one’s contribution remains less effective. Once people start propagating some essentials from their lives and dedicate it to others, we would start witnessing a change within the way wealth is distributed amongst the society.

Our society condemns altruism in a manner by not promoting it. Our social conditioning forces us to be restrictive in the way we plan our resource expenditure. There is an excessive emphasis laid on personal development. There in we lay constraints on ourselves and tend to believe that may be supporting another’s development might be an unnecessary burden especially if the other one may not be able to help us back in return. We tend to undermine our powers and the effectiveness of the impact we might be able to create. We might be able to understand the strength of collective efforts; yet the realization does not easily dawn up on us.

May be one day when we sit down and feel the pain, suffering & frustration that these helpless souls have to go through on a daily basis. As I sit down to write this blog post (after a delicious dinner) I am not even sure whether that boy went hungry or even sleep less tonight. This is the kind of thoughts that make me shudder at times. Those packages, salaries, grades seem to be ghosts that fettered our thoughts. Yes, they are important; however, there are other very grave problems that our society faces. Material seems meaningless when you cannot satisfy your stomach. And yet, when you can help some hungry soul go to bed peacefully with a filled tummy, there is a calmness that fills in your conscience; a feeling that is way more than any salary hike, promotion or level of self achievement might be able to.

Small things of joy

On a lovely morning as I walked along,
I met a lonely woman, humming a song.
She looked worn, from wounds so sore,
And yet a smile of fulfillment, she bore.


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