Weeping Angels

socrates quote

(Acknowledgement- google:)

I read almost two or three interpretations of the saying, “Resist not evil..”.

On a casual reading , one is almost indignant: what does that mean, eh? After all is there not another quote about “What is needed for evil to thrive is for the good to do nothing?”

The two interesting interpretations  hinted at the same counter logic- resist not evil means, do not invest your energy in resisting evil. Instead invest it in doing good. When you walk away from evil, you deprive it of the anticipated resistance. It was counting on that push to gather strength and pull you in deeper. When you resist evil, you are actually embroiled in it too. Be indifferent to evil and the evil disappears by itself.

I was musing aloud about this , when my eldest one commented, “Amma, did you not watch the Dr.Who episode? The stone angels that wept? That which holds the image of the angel becomes itself an angel.”  I remembered with a start that the weeping angels were evil and fed off energy of the one who looked at it and worse! Indeed, if I stared too hard at the face of evil, brooded on the vagaries of evil minds, worried about their manipulative ways, feared them, invested energy in any way except the clinically detached indifference- I would be sucked beneath that deadly swamp.

Resist not evil.. walk away, run if you need to.

Almost as a setting to the thoughts, I was talking to a friend who  was discussing on  gossip and grapevines that tangle maliciously. “The world loves to nitpick and find faults. They drink their pegs with the salt of another’s misfortunes. If they find anything at all , away from the expected path, get ready to be bitched about and devoured – as if they are a pack of hyenas. If you fall, give up, cry,  or even better die-they cheer! One’s success and happiness are what they hate the most.”

I remembered the weeping angels. My mind flashed with images of many stone angels I have seen in my own journey- weeping and grinning; both looks being menacing. They have appeared in so many guises, with such charming faces, with such honeyed words. Their only focus- my tears. If I cried, they would be happy. Anger surged within me. A part of me wanted to  demolish these horrors. Then, I recollected the wise Biblical quote.

Resist not evil…

That damn darkness is just not worth your mind’s precious energy. One cannot waste one’s life wrestling against  evil. Write a book, bring up  healthy children, laugh a bit, study more, win some more, love much more…so much to do in this beautiful world.

Trust me on this one.

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Simple Joys..with Gratitude

” So read up about Hryvnia and Berkut, Ma, by the time I am back,” she calls, on her way out. She waves Irodov at me. The fat text book, I mean.

It must have been almost twelve years since I browsed seriously through international issues. As an aware reader, I knew generally about the world and its happenings. But the new challenge was serious. The kiddo had an assignment and she wanted  to discuss about Ukraine- the crisis, the currency depreciation, the riot police.

In two hours time, I found myself staring at  the deep socio-political-economic polarization challenges that the nation was facing. The similarities and differences with Greek economic crisis loomed large.  The Crimean annexation, the role of NATO, the international debt obligation, terms like economic hair cut/write off, sanctions, creditor associations, Tatar minorities, Black sea fleet, cease fire agreement et al started making sense. The deep links  that every economic issue has with military alliances and political realities of power balance came into forefront.

I also felt a sense of Deja Vu. This story has happened before. The story is happening now and will continue in future- across the world.I could have changed the name of the nation and the places and the allies and the saga would remain the same. A child in Africa, needing help for doing an assignment on the crisis of Afghanistan, would have a mother staring aghast at the same history of military alliances, socio political milieus, minorities and trust issues, strategic liabilities, economic policies and a country struggling for stability.World over, the human story remains the same. The players, the interests, the struggles, the fights, the bloodshed..it is like  script being rehashed again and again by new directors and new actors. The victims being always the simple citizens who only want peace and a safe future for their children.

My daughter returns, and switches on Dr.Who. The “Master” is hell bound to be in power. The most powerful drug in the world. And he marches to a tune of drum beats in his head. Actually , he is a very scared little boy within.

” The joy of travelling the universe, the privilege of seeing it- is that not ownership enough?” asks David Tennant.

The Master blinks for a second. Then the power crazy nature reasserts itself.

As the Time Lords start their plans, the episode closes.

I sigh deeply. There is a strange serendipity in all these events.

” Do you want to discuss the topic now?” I ask.

” No. I have homework. Maybe tomorrow?” she says.

I think of a country, far away. For a mother living there, and a child, it is not an issue to be discussed tomorrow. Will the child be at peace to do her homework and watch Dr.Who? Extending the metaphor- in how many countries, were children, especially daughters, free to study to their heart’s content?

I pray in gratitude. The simple joy of a normal day. It is a gift denied to many , many souls across our earth.

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Beads Of The Same Colour, Birds Of The…

image

In 2008, a 42 year old woman gave a commencement address at Harvard University. She spoke to the high fliers about the ‘ Fringe benefits of failure and the Importance of imagination.’ Her name was J.K.Rowling. That speech has now been published as a gem of a book entitled, ” Very Good Lives.”

Rowling spoke about how she saw herself as an utter failure, 7 years after graduation- with an imploded marriage, poverty, unemployment and the rest of what poverty brings. She also spoke about facing the reality,  focussing on writing, and building  up life from the very rock bottom of loss.

Quote: ” Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.”

Rowling spoke about the power of imagination- the gift of ‘ thinking oneself into other people’s places’ and how that gift leads to empathy. Her work at Amnesty International had exposed her to horror stories and tales of resilience- which she later captured in her work. She speaks about how we ” refuse to know about the sufferings which do not touch us personally.” The importance of becoming a voice for the voiceless, and being a part of change in the world were reiterated.

Quote: ” ..If you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change. We do not need magic to transform our world; we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better..”

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Almost serendipitously I ended up watching two movies on the same theme of  grateful, graceful living.

” The Bucket List” starred the formidable talents of Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson; as two patients facing  death and choosing to embracing life intensely, together. I was awed by Morgan Freeman- the sheer beauty of his acting , his dignity was a majestic sight in itself. Of course, no one can act better as  a headstrong rebel than Jack Nicholson and all the Cuckoos flew over his nest in this one!!

” Staying Alice”, was fragile as a gossamer web- with  the Oscar winning performance of Julianne Moore as the brilliant, radiant Columbia University Professor  and mother of three,  coming to terms with ”  The Art of Losing”, due to Alzheimer’s disease. As we watch the extraordinary woman who knows everything about words, struggling to recollect the connections, Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry acquires new meaning.

Both the movies reminded me of Rowling’s speech. There was an acceptance of  reality by the protagonists- with all the failure of body functions, pain and  imminent loss- death and disease are dark tunnels where you grope by yourself for light. There was also the power of imagining oneself into a better place- a dignity, a grace and a rare beauty of the resilience of leading ” Very Good Lives.”

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I am not a great fan of Dylan Thomas as a real man, but his lines are fascinating.

”  Do not go gently into the good night

Rage, rage against the dying of the light”

Those lines resonate-with not only fighting against failure and death , but also in creating a fresh burst of energy in the reader.

And so, having gifted Rowling’s latest to my daughter, when she invited me to watch ‘ Vale Decem’ with her- I was not expecting any more coincidences.

She explained to me that the Latin meant ” Farewell Ten”- about the regeneration of the 10th Dr Who, to the tunes of gratitude sung by the world to him .

‘Amma it means, may the fates be with you till eternity because you have brought us peace. You see, David Tennant, the Tenth Doctor Who, he lived a Very Good Life!’

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I end with Joseph Campbell.

In his great work, ” The Power of Myth”, he elaborates on the basic theme.

” The world is full of people who have stopped listening to themselves or have listened only to their neighbours to learn what they ought to do, how they ought to behave, and what the values are that they should be living for..

The Dragon of our Western  tales, tries to collect and keep everything to himself. … he just guards and keeps. There are people like that, and we call them creeps. There is no life from them, no giving. They just glue themselves to  you and hang around and try to suck out of you their life.

My general formula for my students is ” Follow your bliss.”Find where it is, and don’t be afraid to follow it.”

*****