The Absurdity Trap

Voltaire said, “Those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

Recently two interesting news got my attention.

The first was about a very rich community enclave in Europe which preferred through a referendum “to pay a fine” than “to take in refugees”, since “they had worked hard all their lives and they deserved their beautiful village. The refugees coming in, even if it were ten families would spoil the whole set up and besides, the kids would not know English.”

The second was an article written about the research study by a Professor of Psychology at Berkeley, in which based on a personal escapade (he literally escaped from being crushed onto the tarmac by a Mercedes driver who jumped the traffic lights) he analysed whether too much money leads to a sense of entitlement and a superiority that gives a damn (or at least its equivalent in a metaphorical sense) to other human beings who happen to be around the vicinity.

Why were the news thought provoking? One often reads newspapers that highlight the atrocities committed by “rich and spoilt people” on a roll. If they shoot dead innocents, plough over sleeping roadside vendors, kill teenagers who overtake them in humble vehicles- the grist keeps getting added to the mill. I had presumed that it was a problem with the noveau riche in particular parts of the world. Until I read a few years before about the behaviour of an internationally top shot Monetary Fund director and then discovered that the Tehelkaeque issues of India were also common across  the inhuman grazing lands of power play in the world.

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(From the book: The Power of Myth)

BILL MOYERS: We seem to worship celebrities today, not heroes.

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: Oh, yes that’s too bad. A little questionnaire was sent around one of the high schools in Brooklyn: What would you like to be? And two-thirds of the students said a celebrity. And no notion of having to achieve something, you know —

BILL MOYERS: Just to be known.

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: Just to be known, and have fame — name and fame. It’s too bad.

BILL MOYERS: But does a society need heroes?

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: Yes, I think so.

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So does it mean, it all evolves to nurture than nature?

May be we should bring up our children with some basic lessons:

That to be human means to be considerate and compassionate.

That the world needs the true riches of the great human heroic soul.

A hero who respects another’s rights as equal to his/her own. Who will act to protect and not harm. Who will not abstain from a helping hand when he/she can.

Maybe then the absurdity of believing in a sense of entitlement due to  x, y or z ( gender, skin colour, riches, nationality, position, stature, power, x, y, z..) will cease and the ability to commit atrocities with impunity on ‘others’ will stop.

I would love to read about a true hero soon.

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Read:

https://www.1843magazine.com/features/does-power-really-corrupt

Sword Fights and Floods

” The great thing about the Universe is it will keep providing you with the same lesson until you learn it.” That is a quote from Rhonda Byrne’s Hero.

It is so very true.Have you had patterns in your relationships with friends, near ones, relatives? A terrible draining pattern, for example? In which you often wondered what it was that you did wrong, to entail envy, hatred and abuse? Then suddenly you realise that the neighbour is still throwing his dustbin contents on your balcony and you are still forgiving. The clerk who is supposed to pass your travel bills happen to forget that your bills deserved passing. Rudeness in a shop sets you off. What did I do to deserve this? Ahhhh..

Once I asked my Guru this question. He laughed.

” Why does Durga have weapons depicted in her hands?”

” To protect herself,” I said, not believing my own answer.

” When logic fails, weapons help, do they not? To draw a line,” said Guruji.

I nodded. Tough metaphor but very clear.

It took me many years to actually implement that lesson in my life.

How to draw a line- simple. Step beyond this, and watch the sword rise. For I have to protect sacred territory.

Suddenly, dustbins stopped being emptied into my balcony.Clerks started passing bills as per rules. Relationships fraught with open as well as subtle abuse, stopped encroaching into my life energy.Bullies started cowering. Abusers stopped stabbing behind the back.

I have not quite passed that life lesson as yet. I am probably at Grade Ten. I need to do a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree to learn the nuances more. But the learning has empowered me.

And the best thing about sword fight?

You are not afraid anymore.

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” Ma, what does it mean- after me, the deluge?”

I should thank Dr.Who for teaching French history to youngsters!

” Madame Pompadour”, I said, ” was a very smart woman. Very accomplished. And using all the power allowed to her in that era, she was hinting at a certain importance of  self hood and existence. You see, after me what is left but the flood?”

” Awwww”, she says, ” that is arrogance!”

I grin. ” Your generation seems to like that aspect of personality a lot! I see a lot of swagger in your role models?”

” Nope. At the end of the day, attitude is all about being truly nice. Who can stand an arrogant, pompous, full -of -myself -person, day in and out?” She counters.

” It takes a lot of courage to be grounded and humble. Anyone can be arrogant. Do you know what the word humility means?” I ask.

She loves reading all about magic. Her cupboard is full of both Physics and Magic. Not too different, if you actually delve deep.

” Yup- walking the sacred earth,” she smiles.

” For that, you need feet firmly planted on the ground.”

” Mmmmmm…do you think that little brat can be taught humility?”

The little one sniffs, from somewhere close by. She is drawing a girl tottering on high heels.

” Hey, learn to walk on the ground- you walk too tall for your own good”, laughs her sister.

” I love high heels,” says the brat,” I am waiting to wear them when I grow up. Pink high heels,” she murmurs very happily.

And  as we laugh,  I rediscover magic.

Between the flood and the high heels.

Not surprisingly, it is spelt love.

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Miracles

My elder daughter loves Rhonda Byrne. She follows most of the principles of Byrne’s great book, The Secret, and advises me to do the same.Her mother being an old curmudgeon ( yeah, she will tell me now- ma, you are making yourself into one  by spelling it out so! ), ok middle aged curmudgeon , with her own take on realities of life, is often half sceptical.

But recently, just a few episodes have confluenced so beautifully that I am re-reading Byrne’s latest: Hero. It uses Jospeh Campbell’s great metaphor of the Hero’s Quest and “Following Your Bliss” principle. It also has Liz Murray, among others, sharing her  fantastic  journey from the streets as a homeless orphan to  excelling at Harvard University.

On a particularly trying day, I found myself staring at an article in the newspaper’s spiritual column about different forms of service: physical, intellectual, spiritual, et al. An Aha moment happened to me.

Here was the answer of a deep query in my mind. Of why, it is so important to answer your true calling.

It all started making sense. Because, only service leads to peace. And if you do not serve, when given the calling of service-well, trouble starts brewing. Until you realise that your inner truth is stronger than any prejudice the world might be having. And you step right back to your original path.

“Try practising Gratitude ma. It is a free pass through life’s obstacles, ” my young adult advised.”Miracles happen, if you visualise goodness and say thanks,” she smiled. She had “Hero” in her arms.

My daughter switched on Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger..”What doesn’t kill you , makes you stronger,  stand a little taller, foot steps lighter, what doesn’t kill you…” I rather liked the lyrics.

Recently when I talked with my friend, he said the same: ‘I feel so thankful most of the time, for what life has given me! ‘

“Imagine you are sitting on the moon and looking down, and look at your own little troubles from that perspective…”, advised a mentor lately.

All of what they were saying, were like guideposts for me.

Yes, thank you for what I already have.

Frankly, You have been very kind towards me!

May I never lose the faith to whisper a thanks , at least once a day…

For truly my cup runneth over with love, joy, opportunities and grace…only make me a more deserving receptacle of thy blessings.

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