The Enigma

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Friday, January 13, 2006

Character n all...

January 12th is the National Youth Day commemorating the birthday of Swami Vivekananda. The days marks the awakening of youth and youth, especially Indian, draw inspiration from Swami Vivekananda's words of wisdom. I attended one such lecture too, but this did not leave a good mark on my mental plateau.

The speaker initially drew an analogy between Physics and Economics. He said just like how energy is conserved in physics, wealth is conserved in Economics. In essence, wealth can neither be created nor destroyed. He says for someone to get richer, someone else has to get poorer. Then, does that mean the government to achieve 0% poverty must strip the rich of their riches and give it to the poor? I feel wealth can be created. Probably, after a long run when we have exhausted our resources, we may not generate but as of now, we are generating wealth from all sorts of resources. If we lived only on wealth that we had during our independence, we would all be living in huts today.

The second speaker spoke of character. He was supposed to speak about Personality Development. He opined that good character comes from reading good books. I beg to differ. Show me one person of great character who got it from good books. Swami Vivekananda declined the offer of a widow to indulge in adultery when he was young. He did not read any great books till then. I hate to take his examples, but then I am running out of choices and taking the name of our very own over-rated hero Gandhi. He consumed non-veg food when he was a kid, dreamed of a goat or something and abstained from meat the next dawn onwards. The essence is people have shown the strength of their character when they were young itself. How did they do this? Definitely not great books. Books can probably give you reflections of your self or some motivation to work in the manner the book goes. I feel they never give you character. It is something you learn in life. From a father who floats a business and works day and night, you learn to fight in life. From a mother who is very understanding and caring, you learn that life is to live and love. From siblings and friends who aim high and achieve higher, you learn that life is all about looking ahead and above. All these form your character. If a book says aim high, you don't aim high. If there is an illustration or an anecdote of Einstein inventing the bulb after 100 tries, you understand that life is all about hanging around and giving your best. These things are better seen and heard than read, as I percieve them.

The speaker also commented that good character is formed by having good habits and abstaining from bad habits. He also advised people not to get into bad company. Where do we draw the line? What is good and what is bad? Suppose a friend who fags and boozes. He is my good friend, and I know for one that I can count on him if the need occurs. Suppose there is a guy who is very abstemious and doesnt indulge in anything outside him. Now, I dont count on that person when I need a friend. What you percieve as good is a goon to me and what you percieve as evil is dear to me. Does this mean a good character to you is a bad to me and vice-versa? Is there no universal definition of good character?

I feel anyone who lives life for himself and for persons whom he cares about is a person of great character. He has belief and love to his roots and his neighborhood. These are men of great character, no matter they smoke or booze or whatever! For life is short, and options many, you need to squeeze in time to accomodate what all you want to do all the time loving and caring your near and dear.

No mistake with Swami Vivekananda's teaching, after all he is my idol, and no offense to the speakers but I sincerely feel we have down the line of history praying our heroes and saints drawn a huge bad picture of materials and consumption. They are after all not that bad. You can indulge in a thing or two without harming others, if you want to live life yourway! After all, its your life and it is you who has to pay or suffer later. As long as no one else is at the recieving end, why worry? Just make sure that the tabs are placed properly, for true character lies not in abstaining from starting something, but in stressing on stopping it at the right point. As long as you are sure you can do this, you are the supreme character you should pray!

5 Comments:

At January 13, 2006 9:12 PM, Blogger revatechnic said...

wow..super lines.
Yay!! I'm the first to comment..
Hey and happy pongal..
You celebrate Ponggal??? i don't know, but ask Vinod what it means.. He will know. It is generally a tamil harvest festival for the sun god.
Cheers Naresh!!

 
At January 14, 2006 5:12 AM, Blogger Twilightgirl said...

awesum!! According to me its the best post so far :D i can say abt the next one too i guess..but this was really good re!!
i agree on pretty much everything u said..:)

and happy pongal or sankranthi!!

 
At January 14, 2006 7:31 PM, Blogger Rahul said...

Good critical appraisal. Actually I don't understand how one defines good for when the Bible condemns homosexuality we have Sir Elton John - knightship conferred by the British queen.

It is true. One learns a lot from personal experiences than from books. But there are people on whom books leave a huge impact. I've heard about Covey's teen habits books changing a lot of lives through his simple messages. Infact lot of neophytes in a religion owe their conversion to the holy books and preachings.

The paradox about conservative economy has always flummoxed me. I don't think thats the case.

A very simple example I can quote from my personal life is that I've learnt to be tolerant from my Dad, to be affable from my friends. I've also heard about Swami Vivekananda in my class 10 Telugu classes and also in a significant number of sessions devoted to him at Matrushri. Sadly the burning desire to be someone like him has been only limited to its ephemeral nature, everytime I learn about him the thoughts find a place in my mind only to vanish and be substituted by the fixed image of a new Aishwarya Rai Wallpaper. I still hold ground to the opinion that it is dependent on the person but personally books have a long way to go before they cast any influence on my personal life.

Since you have kindled that two minute spirit in me now I take the liberty of quoting

Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached

 
At January 14, 2006 8:18 PM, Blogger Myndfcukd said...

At the risk of sounding too pedantic, I believe Einstein never really invented anything useful.It was Edison.

Vivekananda is the greatest of the patriots of mother India. But how many of India's youngmen knew anything abt His Birthday today.

Though I, nor anyone else for that matter may not be able to show any examples of people having gotten wonderful characters out of reading books, I can be absolutely sure that Books do help in character formation. If not entirely transform a person's character, great books can act as catalysts for change.

From a father who floats a business and works day and night, you may choose learn to fight in life. alternately, you may choose to learn that having money is the most important aspect of life.

One influence can never be enough to affect a lasting character formation or transformation. It has to be a cogent mix of experience, reading, environment and opportunity.

If a book says aim high, one may not aim high. Same is the case with Einstein or someone else aiming high.

I believe character is what I do to others, not what i do to myself. Even if I eat meat, drink, smoke or even indulge in adultery,if at the end of the day I havent caused hurt or loss to another being, I am of good character.

finally, It takes all kinds of men to make the world. Everyone cannot be a leader. evryone cannot be Gandhi or a Vivekananda. I am sure there are men and women of greater personal integrity than Gandhi but the factor of chance comes into the picture, making one into an Idol or a non entity.

Carpe diem, my friend , Sieze the day.

 
At January 15, 2006 1:06 PM, Blogger Saraswathi said...

Great post naresh!
Character for sure cannot be developed by reading books.I completely agree with u abt character being built by real life experiences..Places u go,ppl u meet,conversations u have,things u hav learnt from family members n frnds and so many other things contribute to ur character...But books do expose us to things which we may not experience in real life..For me books are the best frnds in ur solitude and each book narrates its own tale...they help us have a broader view of the life arnd us..

I dont think I can add anything more to ur already well written post..
But feel like quoting one of the lines from Mukesh's song(actually getting bored now n hav no other better work to do):P
Kisi ke muskurahaton pe ho nisar
Kisi ka dard mil sake tho le udhar
Kisi ke vaaste ho tere dil mein pyaar jeena isi ka naam hain...

 

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