Chapter 24

December 8, 2008 at 8:31 pm | Posted in Musing + Mulling, Uncategorized, World + People + Events | 6 Comments
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I am not much of a philosopher. The only philosophical question that has occurred to me is:

‘What is the point?’

No doubt, you will gasp at the profundity and utter sagacity of this insight. I understand. As deep and thoughtful as this question is (Socrates and Plato would agree), I feel rather concerned that humans do not ask it often enough. Especially the folks at the Parliament, the judiciary, and every law-making body of the world. Those grimy, balding. terribly self-important people with a preference for stale banana milkshakes and an ability to think some of the most pointless rules in existence. Lawmakers, some would call them. A bunch of doddery old fools, is the term I prefer.

Of the many strange and mysterious things and unexplained phenomena that abound in our world, including the  possession of so-called writing skills by Pete Wentz and the re-election of George W Bush in ’04, perhaps no other phenomenon is as mysterious or unexplained as the Law. Indeed, such is the complexity and inscrutability of this dreaded school of thought, that concepts such as the quantum theory pale in comparison.

Now, I’m one of those people who love complexity as such, but love simplicity more. But one thing that irritates me more than anything else is the ridiculous precision, the exaggerated, long winding descriptions, perfectly normal terms hacked to tiniest details, and the tendency to define every term that contains more than one syllable.

I mean, consider this:

The Income Tax Act, 2007

993
An individual ( “A”) is connected with another individual ( “B”) if-
(a) A is B’s spouse or civil partner,
(b) A is a relative of B,
(c) A is the spouse or civil partner of a relative of B,
(d) A is a relative of B’s spouse or civil partner, or
(e) A is the spouse or civil partner of a relative of B’s spouse or civil partner.

Or this gem:

(1) For the purposes of this section a company is a petroleum company if-
(a) its activities include any relevant activities; or
(b) it is associated with a company whose activities include any relevant activities and its own activities include the ownership, operation or management of ships or pipelines (as defined in section 65 of the [1962 c. 58.] Pipelines Act 1962) used for transporting or conveying petroleum or petroleum products.

Like, HELLO! A petroleum company is considered a friggin’ petroleum company when it deals in the damned petrol!

I would give more such examples. but I do not want you, my dear reader, to go into a deep coma.

The basic purpose of law is to safeguard our rights as an individual and make life safer and easier. But modern law does precisely the opposite. Statements and declarations abound on paper. Action is mistaken for  the passing of bills. I wonder if they would come up with an official declaration on that too.

(We’re the folks who pass rules/Never mind that we are a bunch of fools/If you should be stabbed or get your jaw broken/There’s nothing more we can do than pass a token/We’re afraid, that’s the law/We won’t do anything about a broken jaw/’Practical’ is a term for us that isn’t supposed to be/It’s not in the book, you see/Yeah yeah yeah)

Alas, I know I am pursuing a lost cause. I may be the only person on the planet to criticise the Law (the Law is the law, after all) but I do this purely out of concern for my poor little brain, which hurts every time I come across  legal mumble-jumble. It’s been like this for centuries, of course, and no one’s complaining but me. Well, next time I’ll make sure I stay well out of a hundred mile radius of a legal document.

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On the Playground

July 8, 2008 at 7:31 pm | Posted in Verses + Vignettes, World + People + Events | 6 Comments
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The children are scattered all over the playground.

Two girls with fat ponytails sit on the steps. Their plastic dolls don’t blink or frown. They only smile. With their teeth showing. And when one of the girls yanks out a strand of hair, the doll doesn’t wince or protest. She just keeps on smiling.
The girls keep their play to themselves. They recite their doll’s dialogues in hushed voices. They have the dolls cry softly. Laugh delicately. Sing inaudibly.

Because the girls want to keep their World to themselves. They are careful not to let anybody else be a part of it. They don’t want them to shatter it, their world of silent shouts and whispered weddings.

The dolls don’t mind, because they don’t have one to do so.

Over there, by the swing, the children sway to and fro. They lurch forwards only to be instantly pulled backwards again. Whoosh. They rise higher and higher, chests heaving with each lurch, but just as they put out their fingers to reach out and touch the invisible wall, they are summoned backwards again. As though the Swing is determined to let them go only so far. The breeze cuts through their hair; or do the children cut through the breeze?

A queue of children await their turn on the swing, getting more impatient with each lurch.
The Swing knows.

A few girls huddle on a grassy patch, their self-willed skipping ropes resolutely refusing to be perfectly Skipped.

‘England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales
Inside, outside, inside, on!’

But the ropes don’t obey. They get caught up in the feet every time.
One, two, three, four. The Ropes refuse.

On the seesaw two kids play.
Up.
Down.

Up and Down are like two siblings who never seem to agree. They always fight and never seem to last long, because Up becomes Down and Down becomes Up.

The voices of the children drift over the lazy air.

‘Queenie, Queenie, who’s got the ball?
Are they short, or are they tall?’

The Queenie sees with her ears.

’Are they hairy, or are they bald?
You don’t know because you don’t have the ball!’

She turns around. And listens with her eyes.

The children play.

They don’t know that the swing that controls them is only another form of the society that they will live in as adults.
They don’t know that their precious stories will inevitably be splintered, modified, and crushed someday.
They don’t know that the ropes that rebel are nothing compared to those they will come to know when they grow older – the superficial, the ignorant, the narrow-minded tunnel visioned ropes of human beings.
And the seesaws are only a feeble reflection of the world they live in, riddled with inequalities and injustices, that crashes around them everyday.

They just play.

A boy with curly locks squashes ants on the porch.
Here comes a candle to light you to bed.
A girl fumbles with a yo-yo.
Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.
The class bully intimidates the kids on the merry-go-round.
Chip chop, the old man is dead.

The Peace and Power Riddle

June 4, 2008 at 5:25 pm | Posted in Musing + Mulling, World + People + Events | 3 Comments
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It is entirely possible for tomorrow to not arrive. It is easy, say, for humanity to wipe itself clean off the surface of the earth by nuclear warfare, or get wiped off by one of the natural calamities we have been instrumental in creating ourselves.

Either way, the conclusion is the same.

Lately, every major political leader, in every country of the world, has been screaming from the rooftops for World Peace. World what? Peace, you say? Well, you’re fooling yourselves, folks, for you’re as near towards getting world peace as My Chemical Romance are towards being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

What right do people in power have to demand peace, anyway? It’s them who demand peace while plotting to wage wars, who keep on babbling away about human rights while violating them from the first day of assuming office themselves, who don’t see any difference between making speeches and making weapons. It’s easy enough for them to talk peace, demand peace, propagate peace, market peace, while peace is something that they’ve never had and never wanted. While the Darfur conflict gets keeping worse and worse, the people who are in position to stop it continue to sit and close their eyes. US still hasn’t drawn troops out of Iraq. Suicide-bombers are being manufactured like packets of cereals. You show me one of these politicos who want peace who are prepared for it.

What about people who do care? Who, truly and genuinely, want the world to be a better place? Are they seeking an ideal that doesn’t exist? Are they being optimistic and foolish? If optimism if foolish, how does pessimism make things better? If you’re an optimist, you obviously want things to get better and hate the current mess it is in; if you’re a pessimist, you still hate it. So whether optimistic or pessimistic, we all agree on one thing: the world’s current situation sucks. (Oh yes, even the optimists, for being an optimist doesn’t mean that you have to see the bright side and ignore the dark side altogether.) That much is certain.

The 1960s saw the peace movement in various parts of the world, but half a century later, we’re no better off. Where does the problem lie? Is it illogical for peace to be possible at all? Okay, hang on, we’re not talking about something abstract here, we’re talking about our lives, for fuck’s sake. Then is it to do with the framework of international policy? Partly, so ably outlined by George Bush: If you’re not with us, you’re against us.

Oh, then there’s this bloody religion business. My God is better than yours. How convenient! Brainwash the masses into hating each other for having a faith different than their own. Religious fanatics will do anything for proclaiming superiority of their respective religions; they’ll kill for it, die for it, anything but live and let live for it.

But when you take it all together, it all boils down to one single thing. Power. It’s power what drives politicians and policies, religions and races. The two World Wars were wars over power. The holocaust and Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’ were the direct outcomes of his thirst for power. The Cold War, the gold rush, the dot com burst, you name it. Aren’t they all to do with humanity’s never-ending quest for power?

The ruthless force that makes men shine like stars, or crushes them to dust. Isn’t it strange, when Nature had already made us the most powerful species from the start? There’s power and there’s money, that loom over the earth as bullies, making people commit stupid, cowardly things. Power is a bully that creeps in and intimidates us in every decision or choice: even the choice of survival, for natural selection itself is a fight for power.

And there you have it. There’s nothing you can do about it – hunger for power is hardwired into our brains. And power isn’t a bad thing in itself – it’s its handling that plays the devil. So as long as there’s fighting over power, there’ll never be world peace. So the question facing folks everywhere today – politicians, economists, philosophers – is how to control the balance of power and guarantee lasting peace. Marx asked the same question and said the solution was a classless society where the Power was to the People. But hey, the Soviet Union didn’t work out, did it?

Dictatorship, democracy, anarchy…what really is the best way of making power make way for peace? The solution seems elusive…one hundred and ninety-five countries, various cultures, and contradictory socio-economic conditions. Dictatorship is definitely off the list. Democracy is reckoned to be the best way of governance so far but then what is to account for bureaucratic selfishness and shortsightedness?

And anarchy…I’m not sure that it’s the best way – indeed, even if it is a good way at all – but it seems to me that anarchy is the only system which puts faith in humans’ capability to govern themselves, not by a bunch of people that supposedly represent them. It trusts them enough for them to practise freedom – but then just where do we draw the line between the required and excessive freedom? And would that freedom be preserved at all and not be culminated into another dictatorship? Is it possible to eliminate the element of power after all?

Ah, maybe I’ll just leave it to the economists until I can work out a theory of my own ;]

‘You Think Too Much’

January 10, 2008 at 7:25 pm | Posted in Life as I See It, Me + Myself + I | 4 Comments
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That’s what my biology professor told me when I sought to ask her about the possibilities of ‘thought-waves’ or ‘thought-energy’ in relation to the clinical death of the brain.

I couldn’t help asking what she meant by her stupid remark. She was of the opinion that I was concerning myself with matters that were ‘far too advanced than what I ought to be learning at this age.’ Excuse me? It’s never too early or too late to learn or explore something new. I could have told her this, but what’s the point, I thought, in arguing with a person who sees it fit to equate knowledge with age?

Apart from the fact that she displayed her close-mindedness (despite of being a teacher) to discuss a new idea, I think that’s a really vicious thing to say to any student. What is wrong with teachers today? They’re dissuading us from veering off course from what’s written in the textbooks. Does anyone honestly believe that all the knowedge on a particular subject can be contained within the covers of a textbook?

Which brings me to the question, why do so many people – sadly, teachers included – disapprove questioning the conventional, the ordianry, the tested or speculating on the unproven and the unknown? I am so utterly disappointed that everywhere it seems as if people have forgotten to be inquisitive. Everyone takes things for granted. Why? Opinions are almost formed, packaged, and fed into the society – and many people seem to think that’s good enough for them. And why do so many students face opposition or general disapproval when taking out the unconventional route? Or for that matter, anyone who ever goes with a unconventional method – be it in business, science or even relationships?

Punishment isn’t the worst aspect of a teacher’s behaviour, is it? I’d say the worst thing that a teacher can do is to suppress a child’s curiosity. Once you lose sight of that quality, you’ve lost sight on the essence of all true art, of all true science, of life itself. A teacher needs to see things from a child’s perspective. If you go around propagating the usual ways of doing things what you’re doing is almost killing originality – and merely causing innumerable carbon copies of the same thing disguised in innumerable forms.

We’ve all heard stories of independent, unconventional, original thinkers encoutering criticism and ridicule all too often before. Who hasn’t heard of the exploits of Einstein or Edison in school? But I think it’s about time we learned practise tolerance on the difference of opinions or viewpoints.

Whoever said that you have to confine yourself to what society thinks is ‘thinkable or ‘unthinkable’ or even to what it considers is thinking ‘too much or ‘too little’? Which brings back to me a quote I read somewhere:

If we do what we’ve always done. we’ll get what we’ve always got.

World Disabled Day

December 3, 2007 at 3:37 am | Posted in World + People + Events | Leave a comment
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Some days ago, I was listening music off my mp3 player. Because of curse of my teenage life that is my stupid little brother, one of my earphones was broken (even though he wouldn’t admit to having breaking it). I knew that he was the one who’d screwed it up. Anyway, until I got a new set of earphones, I had to listen from only one end of the earphones.

I felt very self-conscious. I thought I looked incredibly foolish, to be listening from just one end of the earphones. Like something incomplete.

This made me think. Here I was, with one end of the earphones missing. And somehow because of it, I felt self-conscious. And then I thought, what about those people who’re physically challenged? What about them, who instead of a tiny little thing such as earphones, have an entire arm or leg missing? What must those people be going through?

Today is the World Disabled Day. People moan and complain about things such as the weather, traffic, concerts being cancelled and what not. Yet, I have rarely seen the disabled people moaning about their condition. Well, admittedly, I don’t know those many physically disabled people personally, but whenever I’ve spotted some of them – at parks, shops, restaurants or out on the streets – I have never been failed to be struck by their remarkable tenacity, their strength to bear their condition, and their general – and astounding – enthusiasm towards life.

It’s a shame, really, that many of us, so-called “normal” people are so weak inside. The tiniest things upset us. But these people display remarkable courage. Their struggle has moulded them. Physically weak they are, yes, but mentally – far, far stronger than any of us.

Being physically challenged must be painful to the person, not just physically itself but also mentally. The lowliest people are those who look upon such people with ridicule. I don’t find anything amusing in that in the least. Worse still are those who put on a fake show of sympathy. The physically challenged people must have enough to be dealing with, without us mocking them or telling them how awful it must be to be in their place. The ‘normals’ pitying the challenged ones – it makes me sick. Hypocrites, all of them. Why the fuck do they need to make a public display of being sorry?

The weak are not to be pitied. Pitying them only makes it worse – it makes them out branded as ‘different’ forever. Moreover, people don’t need pity. No one does! What they do need is sympathy. Sympathy, not pity – and here it’s sympathy in its subtlest form – love and care.

I have always felt for the mentally and physically challenged ones, but I have never pitied them. Instead I have been awed by their strength. And so today, on the World Disabled Day, have I done my bit? I didn’t visit a physically or mentally challenged people’s home – I wish I could – but sticking as always to my philosophy, I don’t believe that you have to show your support on a particular day. Just feeling for these people – genuinely, deeply – and directing efforts into making their lives easier, is all you have to do.

All the pain in the world cannot be eradicated, but that pain can be lessened.

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