War or Peace?

Despite the Nazi Goering’s blazon admission of how citizens are manipulated by power brokers into war more than seven decades ago, people still call for blood…

If terrorists spill blood, we call it an act of terror. When media and civilians call for blood in exchange of mindless killing by brain washed perpetrators of ignoble violence, what do we call the act? Is it war? Is it anger? Is it pent up frustrations finding an outlet in angst? And when the armed forces react by acting on it, what happens … is it a start of war?

Do you, in revenge, bite a mad dog when it bites you?

Any war to my mind is a government or people’s failure to solve a problem. It is a mindless act of aggression justifying the destruction of human lives, which we have no right to annihilate. In current times, war or aggression between two countries becomes a matter of international concern, as trade, tourism and the economy get affected. People’s lives are affected. The costs have always been borne by civilians, not only soldiers’ families but by all civilians and, especially, by the economy.

Nuclear arms have coerced peace in a world torn by manmade boundaries. Lessons can be learnt from Japan. After the annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, did Japan become bloodthirsty and indulge in fascist nationalism or did it self-reflect, pour its energies into building a strong economy and contributing to the world in a positive way?

Now, even North Korea is exploring peace as a good option. Then, why would bloodlust affect civilians in the Indian subcontinent? Why should more than half a century old sagas of hate and violence instigated by power brokers who no longer live, still be given the power to destroy the sanity of the crucible of philosophy, idealism and religious thoughts?

Who fights war?

People.

Who suffers from war?

People.

Then, perhaps, Einstein, the man whose science was mutilated to create nuclear bombs, is right when he says:

“Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.”

So, if people refuse to take arms, there can be no war.

Do we, as intelligent thinking humans choose death, destruction and sorrow and play into the hands of men who have opted for Goering’s philosophy or opt for peace, prosperity and development like the man who dubbed himself a “militant pacifist”, the Jew who made it into history and changed the world order with his science, Einstein? Both from the same nation but with such different perspectives.

It is time for us to choose.

 

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Parenting…dreams

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During my younger son’s eighth grade graduation, the principal gave a fabulous speech. He asked the youngsters to dream big dreams, to reach for the moon and in case they missed landing on the moon, they would fall on the stars. He asked them to ignore laughter and taunts that might come in the way of realizing their dreams. I loved the speech… thought it was one of the most inspiring I had ever heard. It reminded me of something one of the biggest and most imaginative dreamers in the history of mankind, Albert Einstein, said,

“Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than one with all the facts.”

I have always been a person who believes that having big dreams is the first step to realizing them. And to me the biggest tragedy is when a child or youngster says he or she has no dream. To dream, to believe in a dream is the first thing that I tried to inculcate in my children.

For us, it all started with stories. One of my sons wanted to fly like Peter Pan and have dustbin dump truck birthday cakes. Another wanted a sunshine cake on his birthday and to do so many things together… he is still trying to concretize his dream. My five-year-old niece believes I have fairies and a balloon tree in my house and I can make magic dust to fly to Never-Never Land… she even wants to know how many people I know in Never-Never Land. The little realist in her also longs to read because reading brings her closer to things of which she dreams… fairies, magic dust and happiness. She saw many books in her fourteen-year-old cousin’s room and said, “I cannot read all those now.” Her cousin, brought up to think that all dreams are achievable, told her, “But you can eventually…” And  eventually she will realize her dream and pursue her passions. But the first step the little girl is taking towards growing up is to learn nothing is impossible. No dreams are too big. To dream or to find ones dream is the biggest adventure for a child. Their dreams will not just be a reality but something that will shape their lives, their existence. Of course, my niece will like my sons realise as she grows up, that Peter Pan is a myth but by then other dreams would have replaced the need to fly to Never-Never Land.

The thing we as parents need to do is to handle the transitioning of dreams with a light touch, with a sense of humor, and not get lost in the intensity and forced materialization of a dream. If a child wants to be an Olympic champion in swimming, but later wants to move on to being a businessman, we need to humor him till he has steadied his own mind and intent and is older. My elder son at a point wanted to be a neuro-surgeon, a space scientist and a bunch of other things… we humored him till he felt he found his dream… and now he pursues it with a passion… though there is still more of it to realize. The concretization started only when he was completing his teens! But he was allowed to dream and dream on the impossible…

As parents, many of us like to push our children towards pragmatic goals, the easily identified and achievable ends which will put bread and butter on the table and bring home enough cash. We urge them to give up their own dreams to come to terms with reality. Our parents might have told us the same when we were trying to find our dream. How many of us gave up our dreams, our romances to settle for the practical and we consider ourselves blessed and happy because we have the mundane; money, career, houses, cars…. or whatever it is that is important to you in your circle… could be clubs, travel, yatchs… However, these are what I would call ‘things’ as opposed to ‘ideas’. To me pursuing ‘ideas’ is more important because that is what makes mankind move forward towards civilization and progress. I would rather have an impractical dreamer who, as he grows up trying to materialize his dreams, moves towards a more pragmatic reality and blends his vision with the needs of mankind, to contribute to a more positive future.

If parents say their children have no dreams, no ambition except for playing online games or partying or watching YouTube videos, maybe they need to know their children better. Perhaps their children’s dreams lie wrapped in the things they are doing and the parents are too wary to acknowledge the unconventionality of their child’s dream. Some children also may take longer to materialize their dreams… but they all get there at some point if you let them be themselves and don’t impose your own fears and insecurities on them, including social acceptance… Of course, everyone will not be a star but at least let them try to be themselves, give them the tools to flourish but the blooming has to be theirs, not the parents…

Often parents talk of bringing up children with good values, make them focus on practicalities and destroy their dreams altogether and the children become part of the faceless workforce that live to earn and earn to live and accept anything that comes their way as long as they have their material comforts. Is this what we look forward to as a bright future? To me a bright future is not a life of ease and plenty but a future where a child feels fulfilled and happy, where a child will feel he has a purposeful life. To this end, it is important that the child pursue his own dreams and not that of his parents. Perhaps it is time to change our mindset, to start believing in the reality of dreaming and letting dreams exist. Perhaps we need to believe in what Einstein said,

“We cannot get to where we dream of being tomorrow unless we change our thinking today.”