Saturday, February 7, 2009

Freedom is a Disease....


Yesterday I saw the movie, “Underworld: Rise of the Lycans”…
It was a by and large a simple movie and depicted the most common storyline of movies all over the world. It had an oppressor and an oppressed. And in the climax the oppressed rise against the strong and invincible evil forces to emerge as victors. However what caught my attention was one specific line spoken by one of the vampire council members… He said “Freedom is a disease; If one has it, all will have it”.
And my mind wandered away.. It wandered of to understand how important freedom is to us. China does not provide freedom to its people but still the Chinese people are happy and contend with the government. During the Beijing Olympics the Chinese proved more than sufficiently that they were as great nation; A force to be reckoned with. Not only China, but also Pakistan was more stable under the dictator ship of General Parvez Musharaff than it is now under a civilian government. We could say the year of the emergency was one of India golden years. Indira Gandhi’s 20 point program put India’s financial state back on track. The Agricultural produce increased and all rioting between Hindus and Muslims ceased during the period. And I continue to Wonder... Is freedom nothing more than a disease... Do we as individuals’ deserve it? Can freedom for people actually work??
My mind wandered off to a story I had heard when I was a kid. The story of “The Wolf and the Dog”. The story speaks of a wolf that lived in a dense forest. He had to toil hard to get his food and would have to go on for days without it sometimes. He had to struggle even to get a small drink of water at the pond. He was always covered with fleas and hardly got a good bath each day. To add to all this; his cave was small and cold. His thick fur wouldn’t protect him at all times from the cold winter nights. His life went on like this, Miserable and uninterrupted until one day he met his long lost cousin the Dog.
He was shocked to see that he had shed most of his fur. The Dog replied calmly that he had met Man, who considered him his best friend and allowed him to share his cozy house which had fire to keep him warm. When the Wolf complained to him about the fleas, the Dog told him how man gave him a nice worm bath everyday so as to keep the fleas at bay. And finally when the Dog told him the kinds of food he was treated with for just barking at strangers, The Wolf was all too eager to join him.
As they both made way to the Man’s house the wolf saw that the Dogs neck had a ring like area without fur. When the Wolf enquired about it, The Dog yet again calmly replied, “Oh!! That’s because Man keeps me on a leash!!!!”. The Wolf refused to go any further with the Dog.
Obviously the Dog would never understand why the Wolf preferred a life of hardships to a life of Luxury. He would never understand why the wolf would prefer to live shabbily when he can get a good bath every day and enjoy the loving care of his master showered upon him.
In a way most of the people living in democracies are very much like the Wolf. We understand the need for freedom and can’t do without it. We accept the hardships and responsibilities which come along with it. But we will never be able to explain to others why it is so. Why is it that we cannot trade our freedom for a life of luxury? Why we prefer to work our way up painstakingly and slowly when we can get all of it for minor barter. Freedom is addictive. It is like marijuana. The more you have the more you need and we are all addicted to freedom. And soon this addiction or disease will spread to nations where people have never known the joys of this addiction through a new medium.
Freedom has always demanded a price from us. While we see the achievements of a dictator ship or a communist regime, we often fail to see the kind a damage it causes to a nation in the long run. The positive effects of the emergency were almost immediately lost once democracy was restored back. Democracy took time, but now India is not only stable financially but is one major economic powers in the world. Its agricultural produce exceeds its own needs a lot of it is also exported. George W Bush manipulated the Americans for eight years with the tools democracy provided; but even then America has its chance to do away with the Flawed Foreign policy which it adopted during the bush regime and start anew. USSR was much more powerful than china during its hay days and had achieved greater technological feats. Yet finally it fell. It won’t before the Chinese have a taste of this freedom drug and the communist regime meets a similar fate.
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Monday, February 2, 2009

What tears may bring.


Yesterday after Fedrer lost his match to Nadal, he reacted in the most amusing way…..
He cried !! Not that it is new for a sportsman to cry on field because of failure.. But none the less I was surprised. I have seen Agassi cry many a times after losing a grad slam final. Vinod Kambli cried once he knew the 96 world cup dream was all over. It doesn’t take much for a football player to cry once his team has lost in a penalty shoot out. And who can forget Sampras crying and playing at the same time when his coach had collapsed during his match.

I read an article in an Australian website … It said Fedrer crying on the field was understandable and that it was a touching response by an individual who had hardly known defeat for the last 5 five years.

But my mind did wander a bit ……
It wandered to understand why a great player like Fedrer who had won so many titles would break down because he lost a single match. Was it his frustration at not being able to regain his number one spot or was it deeper than that

What does it tell about an athlete’s character when he weeps after a loss?
When he sees tears as a solution to the huge disappointment he has just faced?
Can tears actually fix things which have gone wrong.. Can it change the past? Or is it just that a persons grief be reduced to some extent if he weeps.

Grief!!!! I guess is the most common emotion we all have. We grieve more than we rejoice as we think we toil more than we rest and we suffer more than we enjoy in our lives. This is something we all feel. But how justified are we in assuming this. Buddha in his teachings of the four noble truths tells us that we should understand “Dukham” or Suffering as a reality in life and we must understand that desire is the root cause of all our suffering .Of course he also preaches that there is a way to escape “Dhukam”, to be free of pain. It is a path which only a few understand and only a small fraction of those who understand take that path. He also says that men are bound by their Karma. And the cycle is forever, so would it mean that suffering is also for ever?

The Bhagwad Gita also offers a solution to get out of this cycle which is very close to what the Buddha preached. It tells us to the solution to escape Karma which means nothing but Action, is not Inaction but the execution of action as sacrifice, to toil hard for our goals, to be steadfast in our beliefs and never deviate from the path of dharma. This I believe is most certainly the best way to keep grief at bay. The path we take to reach our destination determines the joy we feel on completing the journey. Our character is not determined by weather we lost or won, but by how we won or lost.

For some defeat is just the beginning of a long and very successful life. For others it is a slide which puts to in the deepest pit, where they loose hope of gaining your ground again.

Tears certainly are not a sign of weakness, but it certainly defines your character. Sampras weeping at the sight of his mentor being taken to a hospital is very different than Agassi or Fedrer crying for the loss of one match. Fedrer should relish the fact that he was on top for five long years. He dominated the tennis world like no one has done before. He has most certainly left an indelible mark on world tennis. One small defeat like this should not have moved him to tears.

But Maybe, Just maybe I am wrong and have spoken too early.
I once heard a story about a Roman senator. It is said that when this senator was in his mid thirties, he saw a statue of “Alexander The great” and wept in font of it. He wept because by the age of 27 Alexander had conquered much of the known world, whereas he who was much older than him now, was just another Roman senator. How much of this affected him and in what way we do not know. But we know this. He went on to become Julius Caesar. The greatest and the most loved General Rome had ever seen.

We never know. Fedrer might just become Caesar in the world of tennis after this defeat.
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