THE POWER AND GLORY OF ANGER

 Even at a young age I never lost my temper but that does not mean I did not get angry. Things and situations anger me and I do believe that everyone of us should display outrage over specific conditions.

 

In my land these are hills: People who invade my privacy. Bill collectors, Rudeness,Crassness, Greed,Spotting clay feet, Being let down. Finding I have let down someone. Deceit, Wars, Attacks on children, Injustice period but especially that which indicts the socially weak, Racism, Violence,Nepotism, Bad drivers, Poor writing, Second rate humour, The success of mediocrity, Endless list.

In life then come the mountains.

I was very vocal as a child and I seethed to see injustice, poverty, illness especially in children, exploitation, the ridiculous caste system and the store we hold by it while denying it. But nothing stirred my gore as much as racial profiling and colour prejudice.I often pointed out these gories to mom and Vidhi,I wanted them to be like me,I was very obsessive and protective towards my family and would share with them everything,

 

 It was beyond me to understand how the colour of one’s skin counted in assessing one’s standing.

But the world has never been fair.

 There is a gentler anger. At yourself for getting fooled. For trusting in the wrong folks. In losing out when you should have won. it makes you strive, seek and not yield. Anger at not seeking the writing on the wall, knowing you are walking on thin ice and only figuring out the obvious when you have been frosted and drenched.

 

  If you are seething at a high temp because you are so annoyed by the status quo you might even let it fuel your drive to change things for the better and right the wrong.

 

 I like people who get angry about sloppiness. Those who have low tolerance for waste. Who mock vanity and status symbols. Folks who walk a mile to pick up the fallen stone and put it back again because it bugs them. They have feelings, they want to make that difference.

Be angry when you see something patently wrong and do something about it. But do not lose your temper as I said.  There is a big difference in the two.

 

 Most of us never see the difference because the ‘shout’ is our yardstick for measuring the ‘bad mood.’ Spouses, parents, bosses, the finger to an errant driver, road rage, aggression in looking for a fight, feeling slighted because you are wearing your thinnest skin, throwing things, these are our usual optics for ‘anger’ but in going through life with this attitude we so dramatically fail to understand its true worth. Martin Luther King was angry because he was blocked by the colour of his skin. So he fought the good fight as did Nelson Mandela. Gandhi was angry about caste and colonialism and poverty and channeled that rage into a cry for freedom.

 

 Political activist Emmeline Pankhurst was furious over the inability of women to vote ad created the suffragette movement. Bobby Kennedy declared war on the narcotic trade because it was destroying a generation and gave his life in the bargain. Conservationist Dian Fosey fought for the rights of the gorillas trapped in the mist of greed and died at the hands of poachers. Erin Brokovich took on a massive corporation because they were poisoning the waters. All these people had one thing in common.

They were angry.

Go for the majesty in rage. It is there, in every one of us, see what makes you stay awake at night because it is so unfair and cruel then make that difference.

 

At a certain point let the world know that your opinion does count even if you look back in anger at your anger.

 

 

AN ONGOING TRAGEDY

 Somewhere some child is having fun throwing snowballs. Another going to school to garner an education. Several others tucking in to a warm meal on a cold day. Playing a game of soccer on a proper field. Inhaling the fragrance of childhood.

 

 Not this kid of the dark side of the planet. The epitome of this tragic situation. They took away his childhood through no fault of his own. He never even got a chance. And like him over 12 million children live today in refugee camps and as high as 50 million are displaced. As many as 10 million are used in trafficking and that number is rising.

 

In my time on earth I always believed that a nation’s future lies in the way it treats its children for they are not only the father of man but they inherit the legacy. It always pained me to see how cavalier the world is to the agony of the child. I used to rail against it unable to understand why it was not given priority and some solution found.

 

This huge number are trapped in thin soup tents and on the rations of charity do not yell with joy when they stand in minus zero temperatures, they scream with agony at the unfairness of it all. They do not ask what’s for dinner, they quietly take what is given and with each passing day they become more forgotten people.

 

According to the UN and Save the Child, they have left everything behind to escape conflict, violence and persecution. Many have experienced profound physical and emotional traumas. Some are missing years of school, severely compromising their futures. Children travelling alone are especially vulnerable – if they make it at all. Others are starved out of their homelands due to drought and conflict.

 

Even as governments sit in heated conference rooms, sipping tea with biscuits there seems to be very little chance of giving them back their childhood.It does not matter which nation they are from. Children have no nationality and it is a long and grey winter. Indeed, some of them will perish, victims to the cold. Still others will be dragged by hopeful parents escaping one hell across hugely troubled waters or dangerously nasty terrain and entering another. Many will grow up asking why and no one will answer them because there is no answer to give.

 

And more are coming. Because the wars are not ending, they are widening in their scope and no one seems to care enough to spike the guns and reverse the flow of refugees.

 

Does it really matter who runs a country if there is no one left in it, if a whole generation is rent asunder. How is everyone so blind that they cannot see that a country, any country soaked in blood and tears is a killing field not a country.

 

If you have let them in then let them in totally. You cannot have them growing up in ghettos with no lifeline to a life.

 

 

SPORTS IS THE BEST JUDGE OF ALL

Last week I talked to you about education and its importance and how the young often take it for granted and treat it with genial contempt only to realise in later years what a folly it was.

 

I believe it builds character and character is something that is both tangible and yet, intangible in that you do not see it until it manifests itself. They say that integrity is how you behave when no one is looking. In this grab and run era the world is going through with its ‘me first’ approach to greed and avarice one of the best trials for judging character and seeing people for what they are when the mask falls is the sports arena. It is amazing how the physical competitiveness brings out the real person, warts and all.

 

 Now, in the few years I had on earth, I cannot say that I was a particularly special athlete. I was not. But exercise held great meaning for me and I took a healthy body concept very seriously.

 

And I watched the world of sport closely. Now we all know someone whom we have held in great esteem and we have a pre-conceived notion of that person’s value system. Then one day, the scales fall off and we are sad and shocked witness to bad behavior on the field of sport. A bad loser, an arrogant winner, a cheat, someone who fudges or loads the dice unfairly, a dozen different ways of displaying bad form. This does not gel with image you had with that person. But you have been there, seen that.

 

The call of the ‘out’ when the ball was in, the moving of the golf ball from a rough and conning a stroke out of it, fouling the opponent deliberately, refusing to surrender gracefully and walking away like when we were kids and if in the game of backlot cricket we were given out by leg before or run out we sulked and took our ball and went home. By the same token the  snobbery of victory and the lack of genuine humility can be as galling.Like when I played Tennis at the Tennis Academy Of Ahmedabad,it was right across grandma’s villa so mom used to keep me and Vidhi productively occupied for a couple of hours but there was a spoilt brat there who would not let us hit the balls and would again and again cut the line and hit the balls himself.Mom got angry and she complained to the coach who refused to see wrong so she asked me not to let the child cut the line but if this guy had no decency even though he was much elder to me I refused to play along and do what he did.Finally mom realized she was wasting time there and we stopped playing Tennis in Ahmedabad.There are no rules everybody does what they want and get away with it.

 

These are not flaws, these are character traits and will be reflected in every sphere of activity by that person. We do not see it because we do not wish to see it and very often it is camouflaged by the accoutrements of office and the symbols of power. All that gets stripped away on the playing field of life and we are left with reality.

 

The odd thing is how reliable this litmus test is because the human race cannot pretend to be what it is not in physical competition. We can be ruthless, cruel, hurtful, downright ugly in our desire to win and it probably is rooted in primitive caveman history but it still holds good.

 

So use sport as your yardstick for taking a man’s measure. And if you discover a glitch in the behaviour of the field of play don’t do business with that person for sure as the sun rises, the very same trait will show up in the office.

THE VITAL IMPORTANCE OF KNOWING

When I was in school in Dubai and lived in the relatively crowded and lively part of Bur Dubai I met several kinds of young people. The ones that intrigued me most were those who were cavalier about their studies. They had this nonchalant attitude towards their classes like how to fudge homework, how to con the parents over their progress reports, a loping approach that totally undermined the importance of education. Not just the curriculum as is given for the year but in using the time to imbibe knowledge and read eclectic books and just learn even if it was watching National Geographic, which by the way, is pretty serious stuff.

 

The odd thing is that I had an ambivalent approach to them. On the one side I envied the freedom of their indifference where a cricket ball had more significance and fights over trivial pursuits marked our evenings in the building compound and taking sides assumed warlike proportions Sun Tzu would have been impressed by.

 

On the other I often felt like expressing my dismay that they were squandering such valuable time and failing to feed their minds with marvelous information about the marvel of this planet and the system it was integrated to…I could rhapsodise all day.

 

For me school  was a benediction. It wasn’t just the formal periods that attracted me. It was the library, the gut wrenching butterflies in the stomach on stage before you engage in vigorous debate, a feeling like none other when you make a point, in soaring with good poetry and enjoying rapport with strong prose,feeling the mind being nourished.

 

I was not a stuffed shirt nor judgemental or boringly academic. That is not what I advocate, people whose families make them swot sixteen hours a day and sit for an assortment of examinations and sit for various aptitude tests in a mad hurtle to beat the others.

 

I chose to beat only one individual…myself. I was my own challenge and I thrived on it. Even today the world sadly has not changed. Technology and the ether have combined to create more diversions that have no playoff and no outcome. Simply eating up the minutes engaging in futile exercise, playing video games, watching screen where others are active and your mind and body are inactive,spending hours texting and messaging and establishing rickety relationships with no future.

 

Where does it all get them? It is like going round and round in a circle and not getting anywhere. Even the elevator goes up and down but these pastimes are just that…passed time.

 

Even sport has dwindled. The privileged have playing fields that are largely vacant. The poor have tin cans and torn tennis balls in an alley and at least they try.

 

My argument with friends who thought school was a pain (and they were still friends) was that this is the best period of our lives to learn: languages, cultures, about other lands, traditions, history, geography, the arts and sciences, so much to know, so many miles to go. Why thumb a lift when the train has long gone?

Sorry for posting the article late because of travelling and different time zones.