How history seeps into the present

Urban landscape juxtaposition of rich high-rises against poor dwellings.

Image by Shelly Paul, Flickr

It was inspiring to see the young people take to the streets on behalf of Mother Earth, demanding that their governments act swiftly to remedy the situation, so that they can have a future.

A lot of these governments especially in the impoverished countries are corrupt, greedy and violent. How can anyone expect these government to properly formulate and implement the right reforms? Most importantly, how did these governments get to be this way?

Most of Africa, Asia and Americas were colonized by Europeans for several centuries. These colonizations came at a cost of bottomless cruelty and bloodshed of the native population. These natives were not just plundered and killed for their material wealth, but most significantly, they were robbed off the priceless knowledge of their heritage and culture, through decimation of their languages, religions and customs.

Resurrection, St.George Church, Edappally, Kochi
Image by Shelly Paul

A monologue with God because dialogue seems impossible

God – The Omnipotent, Omnipresent, benevolent creator of this world

Hello God,
I have heard so much about You, growing up. I hear You are a kind, benevolent, just and fair God, although I am not sure if that was the case when You tested Abraham’s faith.

By the way, I am not here to discuss the Bible. I want to talk to You about money. Why do You need so much money? Why does The Almighty, who created this universe in a week, with a day to spare, need so much of his favorite creation’s legal tender?

let's talk/Shelly Paul
Image by Shelly Paul


Discount – deduction from the whole

Personal Essay

In conversations with friends and family over a period of time, I have come to understand that there is a tendency to distort or stretch the truth. Such alterations make for interesting anecdotes and lively conversation. But, when it comes to regular interaction with people in daily life, staying close to reality keeps life’s flow relatively smooth.

Over the years after listening to numerous personal stories, I realized separating the husk from the grain can be really hard. I also realized that I don’t have to know the absolute truth about everything to have healthy relationships. All I need is a credible approximation of the broad reality. To ascertain this, all I need to do is to discount certain parts of the issues presented, according to the individual’s nature and character.

This is my current formula to get to the heart of the matter:
At first I take all things said in a conversation at face value. No assumptions, no presumptions unless the context is obvious or common in social parlance. In time, a pattern would emerge and some lack of consistency would begin to show, in the continuity of the narratives. Depending on the degree of this inconsistency, I assign discounts to the information presented to me.

brokenglass/Shelly Paul
Image by Shelly Paul


Hypocrisy – the gap between word and deed, between the image of virtue and its reality

An ode to hypocrisy

O hypocrisy! The juice that binds our dysfunctional society together. You make it possible for us to look civilized and not require us to be civil.

You let us sophisticate the barbarianism of war with technology and perpetuate injustice through the semantics of law.

You let us dilute moral principles that keeps the human society functional and let us call it moral relativism.

You let us hide condescension within acts of charity and hide double standards in eloquent verbiage.

You give us rituals to escape from the truth about ourselves. Thus, we can repeat our sins without compunction, because there is easy absolution.

Charity – Alms, Philanthropy

You try to get out of the grocery check-out line after paying for the purchases, when the cashier pops the question, ‘Would you like to donate a dollar to such-and-such charity?’ You look around and see a lot of cardboard balloons with names on them, which brings to mind a related TV commercial, and you wonder how much of your charity buck goes to the ad agency.

The corporations who are the latest human beings, are charitable too. ‘For every product you purchase from us, we will donate 50 cents to such-and-such charity.’

Coercive philanthropy in thirty seconds:

"You're building a rat ship here. A vessel for seagoing snitches, and if you think you're preparing these minnows for manhood, you better think again, because I say you are killing the very spirit this institution proclaims it instills. What a sham. What kind of a show you guys are putting on here today? I mean, the only class in this act is sitting next to me, and I'm here to tell ya this boy's soul is intact. It's non-negotiable. You know how I know? Someone here, and I'm not gonna say who, offered to buy it. Only Charlie here wasn't selling." Lt.Colonel Frank Slade(Al Pacino) from the movie,'Scent of a Woman'
Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi / Source Wikipedia

When I saw the statue of Mr.Gandhi being unveiled in London’s parliament square; Mr.Cameroon giving a speech to mark the occasion while sharing the stage with India’s number one celebrity Mr.Amithab Bachchan, the ludicrousness of it all became unbearable. So I thought it was time I explained to the younger generation why Mr.Gandhi is the father of India.

Mr.Gandhi is the father our nation because he was the only leader who went through untold suffering while leading the masses to freedom.

Being one to shun the spotlight, he decided that he would leave politics as soon as his beloved nation was granted freedom by the Colonial British. In comparison, Mr. Nelson Mandela

marionette
Image by Shelly Paul

When the economy began to self-destruct, the government of the nation of Dystopia took drastic actions to mitigate the catastrophe. It resorted to well touted austerity measures.

A majority of government funds were diverted from various departments to stem the financial hemorrhage, which resulted in a budget crunch. Since a balanced budget is paramount, after much deliberation marked by tormented debates and emotionally charged discussions, the elected members to the parliament decided with a heavy heart to stop funding essential services to the public.

Since the public needed these services at any cost, the government made the inevitable decision to privatize core government services. Everything, from schools to prisons, was contracted out to private entities. To pay the private contractors, taxes were raised on the majority of the population. The billionaires and the zillionaires were shielded from any tax increase, since

Recently, I happened to read an article in New York Times that impressed me with its blunt honesty.
Titled “The Charitable Industrial Complex” it’s an article written by Peter Buffet, son of Warren Buffet. The article discusses something he calls ‘Philanthropic Colonialism’.

balinesecouple/Shelly Paul
Image by Shelly Paul

….while, on Planet Primitive, in the nation of Dysfunction, it was the year 140 BTLM(Before The Lone Man). A hundred thousand men had gathered in the nation’s capital to protest the passing of a bill into law.

The throng of protesters gathered around the parliament building spilled on to the adjacent street, flowing to the other end where the wrought iron fence surrounded the Presidential palace.

The protesters chanted slogans and banged on the fence from time to time, expressing discontent. The placards and banners they held cried out the deplorable state of men in the matriarchal nation of Dysfunction. Any minute now the parliament would finish voting on the ‘Neutralization Bill’. The air was thick with tension.

Within the compounds of the Parliament and the Palace stood a barricade of the Women’s Elite Police force, armed with taser and guns, ready to go off at the slightest provocation. A tall wrought iron fence separated the mob from the police. The clamor was growing, the police tense, and braced for the uproar.