Friday, January 13, 2012

Falling Grace

"It's good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it's good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven't lost the things that money can't buy." - George Lorimer
     There are two remarkable junctures in my life. When I was 4, my parents sent me to a playschool. The playschool wasn't anything like the modern-day, well-equipped montessori. The teacher was our neighbour who taught young kids the foundation of alphabets and numericals. More importantly, she ensured that the values of integrity, honesty, loyalty & hard-work were instilled in us (I can't thank her enough for honing my English accent). Years later, when I started my career with Aditi - a few additional values were imbibed. Socially conscious, people-driven, intense, creative & ethical.  Over the next 5 years, I built my own castle ensuring that every brick in the wall had those values in them.
     I didn't realise or rather expect one thing. The world around me had changed over the last 20 years, especiallly in the last 5. Values were laughed at, in fact destroyed beyond repair. Kids today are taught from Sun Tzu's "The Art of War." The spectra of values have been replaced by a globe of competition, breeding grounds for deceit, distrust & corruption. How do we acknowledge this change?
     Over the last couple of days, we have been interviewing fresh graduates. Since the turout was large, I was tempted to conduct group discussions. As an experiment, I provided one group with the topic "Corruption & India." As usual, the discussion started with the regular bashing of government officials & bureaucrats. But surprisingly, towards the end, the topic deviated towards corruption being a norm and part of our daily lives. One guy even insisted that it would allow us to save time by getting things done faster. I could only sigh. After all, the next generation sees the colourful illustrations of Suresh Kalmadi & A Raja stand out as role models. Steal enough, and then live comfortably in our secure jails.
     The basis for relationships seem to be following suit as well. A decade ago, friendship was built on trust. Today, it's meandering on the edge of partnerships. A favour is part of a deal, and sacrifices are good measures of bounty. We trade human beings on a day-to-day basis. As we pull the strings on others, we fail to realise that our strings are in the hands of a higher authority. Karma is re-defined as the price of our efforts.     The adornment of shame that hung on the shoulders of offenders has been encompassed with green, slimy sheets of paper that control our lives. I don't intend to change, but my values have left me confused. Do I remain a social outcaste, blind-folded as the world  around me surges to the depths of immorality? Or do I blink?? 

     "Tarry a little, there is something else.
This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood;
The words expressly are "a pound of flesh.""


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