Monday, January 5, 2009

The Accidents of Circumstance

Where are we headed? The ubiquitous 'youth' of today - the urban youth in particular,
have acquired a new class of thought - this new-age awareness. They feel the urge of the hour, that something is
truly wrong, they feel the need for change, they hear the earth and their country screaming for help. But they are torn,
like Robert Frost waxed in his work 'The Road Less Traveled' - the conflict rears its head day in and day out.
Should we take the beaten path - become the engineer or the doctor or the new age lawyer breed, with great promise of
salary but job satisfaction being a distant dream. Or should we answer our heart's call and pave a new path - help
the world, save the environment, fight against poverty, corruption and ease our country of it's malaise.

Most choose the in-between road, or at least tell themselves its the in-between road, that all hope is not lost, there
is still time and it can all be done. There's no limit to dreams, we can have it all! They hope to start with a
conventional path - make the money, built a family, pursue an MBA in an IIM or abroad, and once they've saved up enough
to send their grandkids to the moon, they'll feel that urge to help society and pay-back. Their morals will being
to pull on their heart's strings and Voila! overnight they work for/own an NGO, each one resolved to its own cause,
hoping to make that change and be featured in the 'Offbeat' section of the daily supplement.

In a way it's a good thing, unlike our predecessors, we can claim to care, claim to be aware and claim to know
where the world might be headed. Most of all we can claim that we want to make a change, and save the world.
A noble enough thought to begin with. And though most of these noble thoughts are largely for show, to out-do
your friends and pretend to care and pretend to want to change, there's this little part of all of us which truly unselfishly
wants the change. But what's the harm with a little selfishness. Objectivists would nod furiously at this statement
for after all doesn't everybody just want to be happy with themselves, and make others around them happy, albeit for
selfish reasons yet again? The Bhagavat Geeta did after all say that strong neighbours ensures happiness for the man,
the country and the world. Which is all too correct especially in today's global scenario. With all our neighbours crumbling,
don't we Indians feel the backlash? Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi refugees, Pakistani terrorists, even the Tibet crisis is
felt by us in no small way.

So, lets pin down the final motive of our breed to objectivist selfishness. If it helps the world in some infinitesimally
small way why complain, just let the world take it's course.

But, if all we want in the end is our own precious happiness, why do we all insist on running behind some idealistic
vision of 'HAPPYNESS'? The money, the power and the fame. The conventional success of the newspaper and the television.
We all watch in awe as some underdog from a village in Karnataka struggles to come first in the IIT entrance exam and,
Lo and Behold! clears it much to the delight of the TOI human interest reporters. Why not create a massive story out of this?

There is no doubt that the 17-year-old certainly outdid himself, and deserves a big clap on his back, but all those
1lakh odd who didn't make it into IIT even though the odds were in their favour and they had the most charmed
background they could've asked for end up feeling like massive failures, like their purpose in life has been
defeated and they have eternally disgraced their family and their institution of education. Alas, that is how they have been brought up.
They can't shirk this system. But why must it be this way?

Why is success so narrowly defined? Why can't an academically average person who enjoys reading books and drawing on walls but is
phenomenally happy just doing that also be successful. After all, life can't possibly be about this urge to be something,
its got to be about something most fundamental. Because, whether we like it or not we all were born into this world,
by the accidents of circumstance, and if we leave it as happy as we can, it should be enough.

But it never is. And I guess we'll never know why. T