Monday, September 17, 2012

Overlooking Handicaps

Yesterday, after a nearly year long hiatus, I decided to go to the movie theater. The movie they were playing was a Bollywood film called Barfi. In a nutshell, the film basically focused on the life and antics of a lovable deaf mute guy called Barfi and the two lady loves of his life, one of them being Autistic.
I must say, I did quite enjoy the film. Probably one of the best pieces of cinema that Bollywood has churned out in a really long time.  Devoid of pointless melodrama and ridiculous dance numbers.
The best part about the movie is, that while I laughed and followed the antics of Barfi and his autistic partner, not even for a moment did I sympathize with either of the characters.
The film was not about evoking sympathy. I believe that was never the agenda. While countless movies have been made on the blind, deaf and physically handicapped people, they were done so to evoke sympathy from the audience. So we can feel their pathos and suffering.
But this movie had a different note altogether. This was not about sympathy. This was a wonderful saga of a happy go lucky guy who made everyone laugh, and not even for a moment did you feel sorry for him in the long run. Being deaf mute was only a part of his persona. Not his persona by itself. His deafness and the inability to converse became an absolute non issue in the log run. You just focused more on his life and his interactions with those around him. The movie painted such a wonderful picture of a world I had completely forgotten. Full of childlike innocence and mirth coupled with a devil may care attitude.
Barfi being handicapped never even came into the picture. You just forgot about it.

Everyone is born with a handicap. Either mental or physical. Perfection was never a part of our design. Some are fat, some are painfully shy, some can be claustrophobic while others have some sort of physical deformity.
But in the long run, it completely depends upon you. So as to how do you wish the world looks upon you.
Whether you want society to sympathize with you throughout your existence, or do you want the world to see you as something well beyond your inabilities.
A great deal of us yearn for attention. A great deal of us want the world and society to feel our pain and understand what we are going through. And throughout our lives we constantly strive to get their attention, only to fail time and again. And then later depart into the bowels of loneliness and self pity.
If you thought the world is ever going to see or understand your suffering, you're sadly mistaken.
Newsflash, its never going to happen.
What you can do however, is become someone who stands well beyond your shortcomings and redefine yourself.
When people think of you, their first thought ought to be about your positive aspects.
People ought to remember you as say, an amazing writer, a loyal friend, a talented cook or a brilliant professional.
Not as, the bald guy, or the stuttering girl or the divorcee.
Your handicaps or your dysfunctional background shouldn't superimpose upon your persona.
Many people succumb to fussing over their disabilities, constantly reminding the world of how miserable they are. But what good would that even do? All you're doing is creating a sad stereotype that you will be branded with for the rest of your life.
The very definition of you should be about your achievements and not about your afflictions.
History remembers Maugham as a brilliant writer, not as the man with the stutter. The same goes for Julius Caesar who is remembered as a military mastermind and not the man with epilepsy.
It completely depends upon you, so as to whether you'd like to focus on your shortcomings, or brush them aside and look at the bigger picture.
One needs the carefree attitude of a child to pretend and become someone beyond your inabilities. So that the world tomorrow sees you as someone well beyond his or her afflictions.
Obsessing and focusing about your shortcomings will get you nowhere. Nor will it win you the sympathy you crave.
Just like in the movie, Barfi made you look beyond his handicap and made you laugh and look up in awe at the magical world he wove about him.
That's truly how life ought to be.
Filled with magic, innocence and wonder, just cruising forward and keeping all your shortcomings at bay, as if they never existed in the first place.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

War And Faith

In the news of late, its not uncommon to hear or read about news pertaining to various acts of terrorism being perpetrated across the world. Needless to say, most acts of terrorism are based on religious violence. Its almost every second day, you hear of bombings and grievous acts of manslaughter. In the west, priests have been accused of child abuse. Not to mention picketing the funerals of American soldiers by the Westboro Baptist church who have courted nationwide infamy in doing so.
Basically, with each growing day the public ire against religious violence and decadence has begin to manifest in waves and swarms of criticism. Some believing that a world without religion would be a lot peaceful. Breaking borders, barriers and all those aspects that segregate us today.
Sounds wonderful. Like a dream come true. When humans embrace one another as loving brethren and sing songs of unity and camaraderie in a world bereft of the one thing that tore them apart.
Alas, if that were only true.
But truth has a way of complicating itself. And mankind across the ages has always been blindsided by its subtle undertones.
Just like a disease or an infection in a human being arises from multifactorial causes, pertaining to a combination of the degree of infectivity of the pathogen, the weakness or loopholes in the human immune system and conditions in the environment, similarly a wide spread social evil has multifactorial causes. Eliminating just one of those factors will never pertain to a complete cure.
For instance the one common mode of disease acquisition is food. Most viruses, bacteria, parasites infect humans by eating or drinking contaminated food or drink.
So technically going by the current world view of elimination of "the source", the answer to preventing most infections known to man is if we were to stop eating and drinking all together.
And voila, no more disease (at least food borne).
The very notion is ridiculous.
Just as ridiculous as the suggestion that elimination of faith will rid mankind of war and general social pestilence.
As food is a medium to acquire infections, similarly of late faith has become a medium to unleash absolute suffering and misery upon mankind.
Its a medium, not a source.
The source, on the other hand is mans insecurity, his greed, his urge to dominate subjugate and persecute millions to satisfy his own twisted ego and ideals.
And what better means to do so, than faith.
Something millions adhere to and believe in.
If the most "rational" atheist were to ever look back in time and pick up their high school history books, they'd realize that war has been waged across the earth since the beginning of time.
And even counting World War I&II and the Vietnam war, most wars fought were never about faith.
They were about dominance, military or territorial.
The human being anthropologically speaking, has primitive instincts of being territorial. Just like most animals. Except that we don't pee around bushes to mark our territory.
We wage war.
Earlier, say around 10,000-50 BC, we waged war blatantly against one another, without any cause or an excuse.
It was pure enmity and territorial dominance.
But with the passage of time, man became more "civilized". And with civilization came manners and reasoning.
But blood is blood, and it'll take a great deal of personal evolution to cleanse man of his warmongering.
But instead of waging war blatantly man used "reasoning" to justify his maligned conscience and continue his persecution of fellow man.
And so, with reasons such as,they are "inferior races", "infidels", "threat to our national security" man continues to purge millions.
Faith is merely a sad gimmick.
And ironically most faiths have always advocated tolerance and brotherhood.
Hypothetically if faith were to cease to exist, man would still find reasons to create social discord.
The seeds of discord are already sowed in our genetic make up.
The need to dominate, to mark territory, to be distrustful of foreign beliefs and practices and inherent xenophobia are all the animal instincts present in every one of us. No matter how civilized we pretend to be.
And the role of faith has always been to stomp out these primitive instincts and "uplift" mankind spiritually to higher beliefs and practices. The aim of faith has always been to promote social harmony and not social discord.
Unfortunately its been infiltrated by man's treachery and been mutilated to terrorize millions to appease an angry and a wrathful God, who spends most of his (or her) time passing judgement on your "loyalty" and more ridiculously, your dress code.
It was never meant to be this way. Faith is the last refuge of millions when things go astray. Its never been its purpose to harshly judge you or chastise you for your day to day errors.'
Eliminating faith is never the answer. Just like eliminating communism or democracy isn't the answer either. People seem to be more focused on eliminating mediums and not the source.
The answer lies in cleansing man from within.
Perhaps in today's day and age, just like using hygienic methods of cooking eliminate disease, faith must be cleansed of all the pathogens (read fake "godmen") that reside within, like wolves in sheep's clothing in order to purify it of its affliction.
Eliminating a system of governance or a system of beliefs will never rid man of his misery.
Its giving man clarity of thought, to see through the fog of war and ignorance, and recognize the source of discord that will lead to true peace on earth.