CARING FOR THE UNDERDOG

There was this guy who asked to be in my team for two reasons. One, he wanted to be part of the task we were handling. Two, he desired to be part of the team since few of them had become his friends. If people chose to be part of my group and request to be part of it, I generally will accept. I will check with their previous group head for an assessment, but will still take them in considering it a privilege that they chose to be under me. I may have reservations about them, but would wait to see their progress.

Now this guy did not come with great recommendations or experience. He quite new to it all and I was told that he may not measure up to standards. When I interacted with him, however, I sensed that he was one who had potential and content. I saw him as a raw recruit who could go either way and I would need to go the extra mile to train him. If he did not disapprove others’ negative report, I could end up with a question mark against my leadership. He was a risk to undertake.

Yet, I took him up and made him part of my team for two reasons – one, he was not tricky type of person but one with pure heart; two, I love a challenge, especially where everyone says it can’t be done. Call it my perversity if you want, but if it is said this is impossible, that’s when my hackles rise. I will take up the dare just to prove otherwise, more so if it is regarding a person!

It was not easy handling him for he was a live wire, very enthusiastic with high level of energy that would often exhaust me. Keeping him in line without getting unduly upset or angry was a challenge. To correct without breaking his spirit, to encourage experimentation without damage to others, to rein in his high hopes without destroying his outlook was an additional task over and above the project demands. What kept me going was the fact that someone chose to do that for me, paving the way for to be recognized as a leader.

It is very easy to take a top dog and polish him up or display him or her as a trophy of your skill. That is what is usual everywhere and leaders generally tend to be wary of the underdog. It doesn’t take much to polish a diamond with the right shaping and setting, but it tests your mettle to recognize a coal can be made into a diamond and be the furnace that would bring that transformation. It is easy to take a student with 80% marks and give the teaching and training to achieve centum, but to take a 50% or even a just pass case and make them achieve 90-100% is costly and time-consuming.

We often take the easy way for that is the seemingly smart thing to do. Yet, if the Lord had thought of any of us like that, we wouldn’t be where we are today. A story is told of Michelangelo, the greatest sculptor and painter of all times. His teacher presented his class with a piece of exquisite marble and asked them what they saw. Everyone commented on the texture, shape, size, its pristine colour and other aspects/attributes of the stone. Michelangelo said, I see an angel in it. His master’s reply: Go and release it!

That’s what confronts us when we meet people or are given a team to lead. To become a master craftsman is to have insight to see through the exterior of words, conduct, appearance and shortcomings and penetrate to the core. It is to draw out the hidden talents of the person, give room for errors, take responsibility for any damage that ensues and patiently endure even ridicule from your peers. It is a patient carving of a soul through the chisel of correction and the soft tapping by the mallet of discipline, taking care not to damage the costly marble – the precious human spirit.

David, the shepherd boy, was an underdog in the family. Born in a family of 11 (his father Jesse had 8 sons and 3 daughters), he was given the most in important task of all – acting for the sheep. When there was an important occasion, Prophet Samuel’s visit to his home, he wasn’t even considered important enough to be called home to be part of the feast. Samuel had to specifically ask for him before he was summoned. Yet this one who was considered the most insignificant of all was the one God chose to become king over the nation.

Beloved by God, the Psalmter of Israel, he became the forerunner of the true Shepherd of Israel, Jesus Christ. Slayer of a giant, Goliath, a mighty man of valor, worshipper par excellence, he rose to be the best ruler of all and henceforth, to be known as of his lineage was considered an honor and a privilege.

God saw the underdog and picked him up to be His own shepherd for the nation. Through him the country became consolidated and a power to be reckoned with. God saw his heart that was oriented towards Him and passionate for His glory and he earned the divine favor.

A leader must be sensitive enough to be able to look beyond the outside to recognize the potential within. A leader must develop intuition and discernment to be able to pick a gem hidden in a covering of dirt and then work hard to scrape away until it’s worth is seen. A leader must not reject, but be quick to identify, single out and nurture the underdog.

The guy I was speaking about rose to the occasion and proved his accusers and doubters wrong. He grew to be worthy of a team and I recommended him to be made a leader. What touched me much was his willing submission, ability to listen to reason, take correction and bounce back even from confrontation with renewed vigor and strength. He is one whom I consider a feather in my cap and I am always proud to refer to him as an example of what acceptance and care can do.

To identify potential and input for it to be released is exhilarating!

To care for the underdog is any day rewarding and refreshing!

PRIME TIME

The prime time or peak time is the block of broadcast programming taking place during the middle of the evening for television programming. It is used by the major television networks to broadcast their season’s nightly programming.

Primetime television refers to the block of time when audience viewership peaks for programming during a defined period of time. In the United States, it is traditionally 8:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time in the evening, when most people are home from work and catching up with the news or their favorite shows.

In most Asian and Middle East countries, prime time consists of the programmes that are aired on TV between 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. local time. In India, prime time occurs between 19:00 and 22:00. Usually, programmes during prime time are domestic dramas, talent shows and reality shows.

Aging can be seen as unsettling and the prospect of retirement seem a scary aspect of life. Yet it doesn’t have to be so, for a wealth of scientific studies have found that youth isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. There are plenty of cases in which human beings peak well into middle and old age.

Teenagers, for instance, may have vitality on their side, but older people are generally more psychologically stable. And so it goes with several phenomena people experience as they age.

Here are some benefits across the spectrum of older years:

1. Your understanding of other people’s emotions peaks in your 40s and 50s. Scientists found a long plateau in people’s 40s and 50s when the ability to correctly identify emotions based only on the eyes was strongest.

2. Arithmetic skills peak at 50 Sure, you learned your times tables in elementary school — but it turns out 50-year-olds are best at answering arithmetic questions on the fly.

3. Life satisfaction peaks again at 69. After a dip in middle age, life satisfaction peaked again at about 69 years old. Even more intriguing, people over 60 had better life satisfaction than people 55 and up predicted they would feel five years down the line.

4. Vocabulary peaks in your late 60s or early 70s. It turns out people’s scores on multiple-choice vocabulary tests keep climbing into their late 60s and early 70s. And you don’t need to sit around reading the dictionary all day to make it happen.

5. Men and women feel best about their bodies after 70. In a Gallup survey, two-thirds of Americans over 65 said they always like the way they look. Men’s self-perception appears to peak in their early 80s, while women’s rates is a little below 70% when they hit about 74 years old.

6. People really do get wiser as they get older. It turns out life really is the best classroom. A team of psychologists and scientists analyzed and found found that the oldest group they studied — people who were between 60 and 90 — did better than other ages on almost every count.

7. Psychological well-being peaks at about 82. In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, scientists asked people to picture a 10-step ladder, with the best possible life on the top rung and the worst possible life on the bottom rung. The oldest group they studied (82- to 85-year-olds) gave the highest average rung number, about 7.

Most people dread the word retirement since it is an inevitable end to an active and often fruitful career. It is a setback for those whose identies are wrapped up in their work position or career rewards. It is a nightmare for those who income is totally contingent or dependent on their salary.

Retirement blues, post-retirement depression, etc are real for many, especially for those who haven’t built up the resources needed for this season of life and the strategies contingent to it.

Those who have spread themselves out a little more into social work or community service or hobby habits will only relish the opportunity and freedom to fully indulge and involve in them more than before.

Retirement actually gives more time for other activities such as community work, social involvement, charitable trusts, travel, learning new skills or even studying. Many make use of this time to enhance their overall know-how and personal improvement and grooming.

For sure, your health may not be at its peak and your vitality may have diminished. You may have to slow down and develop a more focused lifestyle for sustainability. Yet, without the trappings of hectic schedule, there is ample opportunity to expand, explore and experiment things, which you couldn’t due to commitments.

For many this may their best season of life as they pick up their laid-aside interests, oft-forgotten hobbies and longed-for aspirations. They are able to innovate without the burden and stress of failure. Free of a hectic schedule, they find time to travel, discover and renew relationships. Not being pressured to perform under the duress of a target can be highly rejuvenating and exhilarating. There is opportunity to impact without the fear of any repercussions or restrictions.

Thus, old age can become the best season or prime time of life. It is a time when life is not being quantified and evaluated in terms of dollars and pounds, but in terms of quality and contentment of your being. It is a time to indulge in community involvement and personal growth. It is a time to relax and relish life, time to look back with thankfulness for making this far and looking forward to new endeavors.

A time to be able to sit and enjoy a sunrise, a sunset, a bird flying, a cloud passing, a flower blooming and a plant fading. A time to celebrate relationship and companionship for its a time without agenda or arrangement.

If you are a Prime Timer, you are not at the end of your age or life.

You are just beginning it!

*Input from an article in Business Insider UK. © 2016

WAR AND PEACE

War and Peace authored by Leo Tolstoy is a chronicle of life as lived alternately between times of war and times of peace. According to critics, War and Peace isn’t just a great novel, but a guide to living. What Tolstoy offers is not so much a set of answers to life’s every situation as an attitude toward living. Tolstoy packs in more human experience than any other work of fiction had ever attempted as he moves seamlessly back and forth between ballrooms and battlefields, marriages and massacres, private lives and public spectacles. The world, Tolstoy shows us in his greatest novel, is a mysterious place where things aren’t always what they seem to be, with today’s tragedy often paving the way for tomorrow’s triumph.

War and peace are two sides of a coin, the coin of life and living, a coin we all indulge in unconsciously. No farmer has been able to enjoy the fruits of his labor or sit under his tree to enjoy his leisure without first waging a war for it. He battles the elements of the earth, the soil, the weather, the predators etc, before being able to gather in a harvest. No mother brings forth life without first struggling through the process of birth before she is able to gaze with calm devotion at her baby. No builder or engineer has ever been able to raise an edifice or build tracks and roads without first grappling with digging holes, unearthing vegetation or other barriers to progress. No student has ever able to rise to the heights of education and learning unless and until he or she has struggled to stay away from sleep or carousing or even laziness. No man can ever hope to become an entrepreneur or businessman before combating discouragement, lack of resources or even loss of vitality. No doctor has ever been able to bring the peace of healing and unless and until he has worked against the ravages of disease and depression. There is no gain without at least a modicum of pain in tussle and conflict.

A classic case exists in the Bible of the twin tools of war and work going hand in hand and being used to achieve a target. Nehemiah, the statesman with sanctions from the Persian King Artaxerxes I to rebuild the broken down walls of Jerusalem, faced stiff opposition from those who couldn’t bear to see the nation rise again. The feud was so bitter and the work so threatened, that he had to command his people to work with one hand and war with the other. He gave instructions to his people to be battle-ready so that in the event of an attack, they would not lose a moment or effort in protecting the work being done. The progress and establishment of the wall depended on their ability to combine work and war. Alternating between war and peace, Nehemiah successfully rebuilt and dedicated the wall making the city safe and a name again.

Warfare then, is not just nation states bashing one another up, but a striving to achieve in all walks and parts of life in some form or another. The real wisdom and acumen lies in being able to know who to war, when to war, how to war and which is the true battleground.

Apostle Paul is very vehement in reiterating that we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age. He instructs the church to don on the armor so as to be able to stand against the Devil’s tricks and hold the ground gained by Christ.

He specifically explains that the world or society out there is unprincipled and a case of dog-eat-dog! The world doesn’t fight fair, but, we aren’t supposed to live or fight our battles like that. As the people of God, the tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but for demolishing the entire massively corrupt culture. We are to use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. And that is the crux of the matter – our war and fight is to set the captives free!

War and peace are, therefore, Siamese Twins that are part and parcel of the process of accomplishing anything. You cannot hope to achieve a target unless you are ruthless to everything that would hinder the forward movement of the task. You may not call it a war or battle, but nevertheless, focusing on a goal involves being radical against all that would harm or delay it.

However, we need to be really persuaded and convinced that the real place of battle and the true arena where we war is on our knees and in our prayer closets. We often forget that what is achieved on our knees is what will be set in motion and in reality in the world. What is conceived in the prayer womb is what will be be birthed in the outer realm of the visible world. If your prayer room doesn’t become your war room, then we become walking tombs and white-washed sepulchres. We who are meant to spread the sweet aroma of Christ and life in the world, will unconsciously and unwittingly spread the stench of death in a society already stinking of selfishness, self-centeredness and sadness. The saying ‘More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams’ holds true at all times!

Remember that the greatest Man of Peace, Jesus Christ, was also the One Who was first a man of prayer before He was a man of action. The greatest battles He fought were in secret, in those hidden years of silence of which time it is said ‘During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.’ Through the book of Acts we see that the Apostles automatic and instinctive reaction to opposition, opportunity and open doors was prayer. The church began in prayer and was sustained by prayer all through its history.

Can we at any time then not consider prayer as the mode of war in order that peace may prevail and His will be done and His Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven!

*A video blog of this content is available

To read more on prayer, read this book on prayer available on Amazon, both in written and audio form.

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WARRING PEACE

Emperor Samudragupta (335-380 AD), the second ruler of the Gupta Dynasty, is known as the one who ushered in the Golden Age in India. Son of Chandragupta I, he was a benevolent ruler, great warrior and patron of arts.Perhaps the greatest king of the Gupta dynasty, his empire extended from, the Himalayas in the north to the river Narmada in the south and from the Brahmaputra River in the east to the Yamuna River in the west. His outstanding achievement was the political unification of most of India or Aryavarta into a formidable power, after which he assumed the title of Maharajadhiraja (The King of the Kings) by performing the Ashwamedha Yaga.

Samudragupta came into rulership at a time when India was fragmented into small states and kingdoms, which were constantly at loggerheads with one another. Samudragupta’s first task on being crowned was to wage war with each of these states and bring them under his suzerainty. An outstanding warrior with a benevolent heart, he showed great nobility towards all the kings he defeated, giving various tribal states autonomy under his protection. He forged great unity and peace through his able leadership and warfare. He brought peace and prosperity through war!

In Samudragupta’s kingdom, art and culture, music, and poetry flourished in the last fourteen years of his reign, during the season of peace he had forged through his season of war. He introduced a monetary system, minting seven different types of coins that exhibited fine quality of technical and sculptural finesse. His court was full of Poets and Scholars and he had a keen interest in music. and was probably an accomplished Lyrist (a musical instrument). His double tactics paved the way for the prosperous reign of his son, Chandragupta Vikramadiyta (380-413A.D.), earning it the title ‘the golden age of the Guptas’. To ensure that the next generation lives in harmony and peace is the prerogative, goal, aspiration and fight of the previous generation!

War & Peace are thus two sides of a coin, the coin of life & living, a coin we all indulge in unconsciously. No farmer has been able to enjoy the fruits of his labor, or sit under his tree to enjoy his leisure without first waging a war for it. He battles the elements of the earth, soil, weather, predators etc, before being able to gather in a harvest. No mother brings forth life, without first struggling through the process of birth, before she is able to gaze with calm devotion at her baby. No builder or engineer has ever been able to raise an edifice, or build tracks and roads without first grappling with digging holes, unearthing vegetation or other barriers to progress. No student has ever been able to rise to the heights of education and learning, unless and until he or she has struggled to stay away from sleep or carousing or even laziness. No man can ever hope to become an entrepreneur or businessman before combating discouragement, lack of resources or even loss of vitality. No doctor has ever been able to bring the peace of healing, unless and until he has worked against the ravages of disease and depression. There is no gain without at least a modicum of pain through tussle and conflict.

Warfare then, is not just nation states bashing one another up, but a striving to achieve, in all walks and parts of life in some form or another. The real wisdom and acumen rests in the ability to know when to do what – when to war and when to rest in peace. A look back at history will show us people who have lost, by relaxing when they should have been working; by being complacent when they should have been watchful; by sleeping when they should have been awake; and by thinking of peace when it was time to war. David, the beloved King of Israel, fell into adultery because he was loitering on his terrace while his troops battled earnestly to capture an enemy stronghold. Great statesmen and women, such as Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi and others knew just when to take the sword and when to extend the olive branch.

War and peace are, therefore, Siamese Twins that are part and parcel of the process of accomplishing anything. You cannot hope to achieve a target unless you are ruthless to everything that would hinder the forward movement of the task. You may not call it a war or battle, but nevertheless, focusing on a goal involves being radical against all that would harm or delay it.

Remember that the greatest Man of Peace, Jesus Christ, was also the One Who did not hesitate to wield the whip to overturn and clean the courts of the house of God, saving it from those who would contaminate it with corruption and greed! He vehemently opposed oppression and unrighteousness, never having any qualms in attacking and destroying the stand of those who made it their right to subject in the name of God. He Who gave His life a sacrifice to save all of humanity warred against all powers of destruction

The cross is the greatest sign of defense against darkness as well as the greatest banner of peace on earth and goodwill to all men!

*Pics courtesy Canstock and Shutterstock

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SALVAGING OR DISPOSING, WHICH WILL IT BE?

An unbearable tooth pain followed by a dental consultation showed a root canal infection needing immediate attention. As the doctor dealt with it, quite severely in fact because of the extent of infection, I distracted myself by thinking of the process of saving and salvaging, the opposite of disposing and destroying!

Salvaging is a term related to ships and seas, with marine salvage being the process of recovering a ship and its cargo after a shipwreck or other maritime casualty. Salvage may encompass towing, re-floating a vessel, or effecting repairs to a ship. The first known salvage was in 219 BC, the Chinese Emperor Qin Shihuang (r. 221–210 BC) assembled an expedition consisting of a thousand people for the salvage of the Nine Tripod Cauldrons. The tripods were considered important artifacts, Chinese legends credit a Xia dynasty emperor with their construction. The tripods were lost in Sishui River in present-day Anhui Province. The salvage attempt was ultimately unsuccessful.

As a life coach, my goal is to help people adjust and adapt to the different circumstances that come their way, especially the stressful and difficult ones. I spend hours talking with them, keeping abreast of the my clients situations, since I am often their last or only resort and rescue, especially for those stuck in a pit of depression. Just being there for them, helping them to download and de-stress, creates a space in their mind and emotions, enabling them to have the time, will and effort to recover themselves. Most often dramatic or drastic actions that are detrimental to life are the result of a temporary blinding of eyes, a sudden surge of despair, a momentary lapse of equanimity, a spur-of-the-moment impulse and an unthinking jump off the ledge. Being aware that some cares enough to listen, someone to give some time is sufficient impetus for people to recover and reconcile, both with others and with their unchangeable circumstances.

With the passage of years, I see a downward trend, an increase in and a multiplication in the number of people succumbing to instability of mind and emotions. Of late, there seems to be a proliferation of negativity, a lack of mental stamina, a loss of emotional control and a tendency to give up too easily and too readily. The impulse to throw in the towel, throw up the arms in futility, the sinking into the darkness of depression is affecting almost all and across the spectrum of age and gender. Of these, the more vulnerable section seems to be the young, specifically children and teens for whom suicide has become the most extensive and popular outlet. It appears to be an easy way to blow off steam, with the added bonus of having taken revenge on those who love you but who unwittingly drove you to it. Or so they think!

The root cause of this seems to be an inclination towards I-need-it-all-now attitude, an urge towards I-want-to-experience-it-all-now outlook and a penchant for I-must-have-it-all-now demand. A denial, then, leads to a sullen sulkiness, a moody weariness and a damaging insecurity. There is a dearth of understanding and accepting that life doesn’t promise or guarantee many of the things you deem necessary or demand it as necessary.

The basic ingredients of nature, of existence and of the universe are entropy, probability and randomness. It is what make life so exciting and adventurous, that it is so unpredictable, ever changing and ever evolving! What then is the reason for such low adjustment factor and adaptability quotient that triggers defeat, especially in the young whose very youth gives them the handle and capacity to bounce back easily!

The trigger for such defeatist mentality lies in the socio-cultural impact of a society that is tuned to easy disposal. It is the effect and outcome of living in a world wherein disposal is mooted over salvaging. Gone are the days when everything was built with the intention of durability, reliability and longevity.

Today’s world is all about constant and continuous change, a fluidity that belies stability and sustainability. This has created and birthed an environment that promotes an unhealthy appetite for constant upgrade, an avaricious longing for continuous newness and an unsatiated thirst for competitive consumerism. There is a singular lack of sticking it out, trying to make the best of it, seeking to work it out and fighting the good fight of life, whatever be cause or cost.

Nowhere is the impact of this felt more than in the basic structure of society, its foundation and fabric viz., marriage and family. A lifestyle geared up to easy disposal and a mentality tuned to instant use-and-throw has not helped foster marital and familial relationships. It has, on the other hand, eroded the stamina needed to cultivate long term relationships. It has made people weak and weary, devoid of the strength needed to build and maintain all types of relationships. We have become scaredy cats, shying away from bonding, often opting for short term connections that grant instant gratification. We have forgotten the recurring returns and lasting rewards that come from investing for and in the future.

We have become passive and content to live in the moment and for the moment. We have forgotten that we are not animals made for instant gratification by instinct, but are eternal beings made in the image of God, created to be bolstered by mutual kinship. We have created a society that’s filled with divorce and heartbreak, a structure lacking the scaffolding of nurture and care, a place where the young and weak are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. What in the world have we become!

I was born into a family where salvaging bikes and cars was a pasttime, hobby and creative outlet. Men in the family would choose to buy second-hand vehicles and restore them, before disposing them for a profit. What joy and pride I would see in their face when their task was dine. It was obvious that the price they paid was small in comparison to this sense of accomplishment!

I saw the same thing in my dentist who went the extra mile to salvage what remained of my tooth. It would have been easy for him to just pull it out, cleanse the area and go his way. Yet he chose to spend hours bent over my teeth, digging out the infection with a ruthlessness that was quiet daunting. It comforted me to note that he would not rest until I was totally free of any infection. He restored my faith in the medical profession and its practitioners.

How like the Lord, I thought to myself, who He came ‘not to condemn but to save’! How precious to know that He rejects no one, but seeks to rescue the lost! How soothing it is to know that He is all about saving and salvation, and not about disposing!

*Photos courtesy of unsplash.com and shutterstock.com

A CASE FOR SALVAGING NOT DISPOSING

An unbearable tooth pain followed by a dental consultation showed a root canal infection needing immediate attention. As the doctor dealt with it, quite severely in fact because of the extent of infection, I distracted myself with a muse about the medical profession. I realized it is indeed a noble profession, because its goal is basically to save and salvage as much as possible, human life and human existence. At least in essence that’s the core of the Hippocratic Oath that ensures that both the intention and the action of the profession would be to help rather than harm their patients.The oath, in fact, embodies a curse on oneself if this focus is absence so that the outlook and attitude of itis practitioners be one of saving and salvaging rather than disposing and destroying!

Salvaging is a term related to ships and seas, marine salvage being the process of recovering a ship and its cargo after a shipwreck or other maritime casualty. Salvage may encompass towing, re-floating a vessel, or effecting repairs to a ship. The first known salvage was in 219 BC, the Chinese Emperor Qin Shihuang (r. 221–210 BC) assembled an expedition consisting of a thousand people for the salvage of the Nine Tripod Cauldrons. The tripods were considered important artifacts, Chinese legends credit a Xia dynasty emperor with their construction. The tripods were lost in Sishui River in present-day Anhui Province. The salvage attempt was ultimately unsuccessful.

Today’s society is programmed and geared up to easy disposal rather than salvaging or recovering. Take any product, big or small, launched by any company , big or small, the focus seems be to produce and market a product that last only for a maximum of two or three years. The design specs and the manufacturing focus is not to last long, but that it should wear out in a few years time. Gone are the days when everything was built to last and durability, reliability and longevity determined the integrity of a product. Now, constant and continuous change is the mantra of society and fluidity that belies stability and sustainability is the watchword of the hour. The result of such an ethos and environment has triggered an artificial appetite for constant upgrade that keeps looks beyond and therefore, not easily satisfied or contented. Change is good when it is part of natural flow of things,but change for the sake of change is unreal and unhealthy.

The by-product of such an outlook is the enormous build up of garbage and junk, the outcome of this favoring of disposal and a craving for everything new every time. What is the use of complaining of leaching landfills, contaminated water bodies and loss of greenery when you pile up garbage that is the outcome of an use-and-throw mentality that is encouraged by all and sundry. A perspective that’s wooed by sales, promoted by manufacture and advertised by trade, acquiring the in thing of the year is the craze that feeds the frenzy! What is the use of introducing umpteen programs for greening of the planet, when you keep stoking the fires of purchase as the entertainment of the day! What’s the use of trying to control the outflow when you are not drying up the collection by shutting up the inflow! What’s the use of any conservation to stem pollution by refuse or boosting reuse, recycle or refurbish when you don’t nip it at the source viz the attitude of easy disposal and disposables! As long as disposal is hyped over salvaging, no program or policy will make this planet green nor teach its people clean!

I was struck by my dentist’s commitment to save my teeth and salvage what remained of it, rather than disposing of it. He kept encouraging me to bear the pain and cooperate with him even it hurt, so that I could hold on to what I already had. It would have been the easiest thing to have just pull the teeth, cleanse the area and go his way. He, however, chose to spend hours bent over my teeth, digging out the infection with a ruthlessness that was quiet daunting. Yet it comforted me because I saw that he would not rest until I was totally free of any infection.

Thanks to him, I now have all my teeth intact with a new appreciation of the medical profession. Thanks to his attitude to save rather than throw out, my face is back to its perfect shape and structure. Thanks to his responsible intention and action to protect and preserve, I am whole again.

Will we similarly ensure that our planet and its people with the right perspective and right development? God help us if we don’t!

*Photos courtesy Shutter Stock and google images

WHERE ARE THE MEN?

A famous film music composer has released a single for a Tamil movie that is dedicated to all women. It honors a woman in all her roles as mother, sister, daughter, friend etc. It is to motivate women to accept themselves as being strong and not weak.

Women are rising up everywhere to showcase their mettle, not as a challenge to or in competition with men, but as those complementing them to complete vital goals and projects. A glance at our nation’s history will throw up a number of names where, when men either failed or did not rise up or were killed in action, the women stepped in to preserve their homes and hearths. Remember Rani Laxmi Bhai, Jhansi Rani, Chand Bibi, Razel Sultan, Rani Mangamma, Velu Nachiyar and others who took up the reins when their men fell. Besides those who fought and participated in the freedom struggle, India post-independence has seen many achievements by women.

As pioneers and path-breakers, women have broken the glass ceiling in many fields, once thought to be the bastion of men. Women leaders such as Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, Kalpana Chawla, Michelle Obama, Indra Nooyi, Hima Das and others have been and become an inspiration all around. Women-centric movies such as Superwoman, Hunger Games and women-themed TV shows such as Xena the Warrior Princess are on the rise. This shift is not taking place only in the West, but also in traditionally male-dominated societies such as many Asian cultures.

Women are being mooted as able and dependable workers in contrast to men. They can multitask and juggle well both the responsibilities of home and work. They are versatile, willing learners, less ego-centric, stay focused and go the extra mile everywhere. They are not rolling stones seeking to jump to greener pastures, but are often content to evolve and grow in one place. Investing in them thus proves to be more advantageous to firms and companies since they will stick around.

While women have been reaching for the stars and stretching to the horizon, men have sadly lagged behind in every aspect and respect. They are often bound by culture restrictions, social norms and familial traditions, seeking to live in the past. Rather than moving with the times and walking in tandem with their counterparts, they retreat to age-old practices. Often insecure, they try to compensate by domination and intimidation, especially where women may prove to be superior in intellect and work. Sexual harassment and abuse are their favorite weapons, and derogatory and snide remarks their way to demean their female counterparts.

Rather than appreciate the richness women bring and seek to upgrade through assimilating their contribution, men often tear down  or demean their input. Instead of acknowledging the worth of a woman and promoting her abilities to add value to the team, men feel threatened by a woman’s credentials, especially when it is superior to theirs. Competition is in their blood and complementing without loss to dignity and authority is a concept so foreign and alien to them. Rare it is to come across a man who finds it easy to recognize and respect the gift a woman brings and the boon she is all around!

In a time when women are surging forward to find their voice and realize their potential, men are being left far behind – emotionally, rationally and even spiritually. In India and other Asian countries women seem to have the mind-set of the 21st century and men seem to still live in the past, often evoking the double standards that existed in a patriarchal system. Religion and social ethics are usually used to confine and control the ‘weaker sex’, rather than to promote equality and equinamity. As freedom of thought and expression will cause ostracization, women often tend to clip their own wings  and chop their own legs! Whenever some die-hard rises up to challenge the system, she would be branded and tarred as rebel and outcast!

Sis Nivetha, born Margaret Elizabeth Noble of Irish descent, was told by Swami Vivekananda, pointing to the opposite bank of the Ganges: `Nivedita that is where I would like to have a convent for women. Like a bird that needs two wings to fly, India must have both educated men and educated women.” She ended up opening a school for women and thus made hai dream come true. She motivated Subramania Bharati, the well-known Tamil writer, poet, journalist, Indian independence activist and social reformer, with her bid for women.  On learning that he did not bring his wife with him to the meeting of the All India National Congress  ‘as she would not understand about great Movements like the Congress’, she flared up: “How can one half of a society win freedom when it enslaves the other half? Let the past be forgotten. Henceforth, do not think of her as something different. Hold her as your left hand and praise her in your heart as an angel.” Inspired by her words, he wrote his seminal work on the new age woman and became a champion of women’s emancipation. A true change of heart at a time when extreme conservativism was at its peak!

Now and then there does rise a gem of a man who doesn’t feel endangered by the capacity of a woman or her beneficence. He is so secure in who he is, what he is capable of and understands the value of a woman, that goes out of the way to seek women of ability to be part of his home or his team. He will be man enough to admit he is wrong when he is and will not be frazzled or rattled by the ribbing of other men. He will be one who will smooth the way for women to shine and give them a helping over thorns and hurdles strewn in their path. He will smile with pride at their achievements, be it mother, sister, wife, daughter or team mate and make opportunities for them to flower and excel. Submission to such a man would be a delight to any woman and serving under such a man would be an honor to any woman. Rare is the man who will truly be a man and happy are the women who have such a treasure in their midst!

If ever there was one who was such in this world, it is none other than Jesus Christ Himself. Born as a man and living as a man, He is the true author of emancipation of the weak and downtrodden, especially women. He had women in his team who ministered to his needs and brought the element of care to his group, without which his work would have been incomplete. He defended them and stood up for them, wiping away their tears and their pain. He did away with their social stigma by entrusting them with major tasks and his disciples followed suit, not feeling challenged by women. In his eyes, women had the same worth as men and his role definition for them was never born out of meanness or spite, but of care for their protection and preservation.

Happy is the man who would emulate him and seek to be his true follower by imitating his example!

*Photo courtesy google images