Taking offence has now become the new ‘normal.’ People across the globe are now taking offence at the drop of a hat. It’s spreading like a fatal disease and is gradually becoming an epidemic. What is wrong with all of us ? Were we always like this but expressing offence right now (all thanks to a hundred outlets on the web) or do the times we live in are bad times ? My answer will be BOTH.
The human race has always been sensitive. Sometimes for its own good, sometimes for the better of others and sometimes (sadly) for the worse. People were offended then and people are being offended now. The only difference is that in ancient times word of mouth was the only way to express oneself. Today a lot of us have our own unique spot in cyberspace. More outlets , more voices – some are genuine voices and the majority are just misinformed beings. Anonymous people with loud offended voices.
I see people going cuckoo on the internet for quite some time now. Social media has given us a platform to voice out our opinions and that is a good thing. But it has also created a whole army of completely misinformed and mislead loons. When a certain topic trends on Twitter or on Facebook , i see a thousand faces venting out their voice under those hashtags. Now it would have been a good thing had those people actually been informed . I mean sure have a voice and express your ‘informed’ opinion but make sure it counts into something productive. Else, no point at all. Sadly they’re not informed. They’re misguided. It’s more of a ‘booking my spot under the hashtag’ kind of a thing.
Expressing yourself on issues that won’t even affect you or commenting about people you won’t even meet is irrelevant. I mean there are a thousand better thing to do. As for people who’re a part of your daily life and issues that concern you, here’s an advice – You don’t like things around you – try changing them by taking an initiative that’ll help people. Else, just change yourself. No amount of abuse and moral filth via your tweets or Facebook statues is going to be of any good, neither to yourself nor to others. You don’t like something that somebody did or said – either bring about a change or ignore it.
Now let’s come to the second question i raised before – Are we living in bad times ? I’d say there could have not been a better time to live. We’re a damn lucky generation for we have seen the world changing , progressing and transforming. The luxuries of yesterday are the necessities of today and we have them all. We have witnessed the IT revolution and have seen a massive revolution take on the world in the last ten- fifteen years. The only thing missing (and sadly so) is our attitude to discriminate people other than our own . In short people who are ‘different’ from us. Every time a person has a ‘different’ point of view on matters relating to religion, politics, and gender (Trust me people get offended by these subjects all the time), the majority seem to gang up on the ‘different’ individual.
In India, we’re currently divided on the ‘Tolerance Debate.’ Some of us feel that we’re becoming more intolerant while others feel we’re still quite a tolerant nation. It’s okay to be on either side of the debate as long as we have our valid reasons. It’s also okay to disagree. But to impose our point of view on others is not being tolerant. Tolerance does not teach us to agree to everything others have to say. It teaches us to allow people different from ourselves to have their space to voice their point of view. That’s all.
One very important thing that needs to realized is that more than 50% of the world still does not have access to the internet so let’s just think beyond social media on relevant issues. Not every voice that takes offence is relevant. Don’t let the trolls bother you. The world will not remember them hundred years from now. They’ll be mocked. Actually they’re mocked even today. People who’ll contribute towards humanity will be remembered. Be a part of the contributors and not the ones who hold the human race back. Had bright men and women from the previous generations allowed the trolls (they were always there, now they’re just loud and abusive on the internet) to distract them , the world would still be sitting in the dark ages.
Have a voice and contribute to people who need to be uplifted. Have a voice for your own self and learn to stand up for yourself. Have a voice against the fear and the hate that the world tries to instill in us. Don’t bother at what others have to say because you really don’t need to shout out loud at every little thing that happens around and is of little importance. Don’t be a part of the rat race because even if you win it , you’ll still be a rat . Did that offend you ?
The above picture of a 3 year toddler Syrian child went viral recently. It broke a million hearts and made millions cry. It also incited public outrage and shamed world leaders. His name was Aylan and was from war torn Syria. His final journey was supposed to end in Europe.However, it claimed his life and highlighted the plight of innocent people caught in the darnest refugee crisis that the world has seen in a while.
Before seeing this picture, a lot of people were not even aware of the crisis in Syria – I can vouch for that. People are busy with their own lives , complaining about petty things when a lot of people around the world don’t even have a place they can call home. Half of the 23 million population of Syria have been forced from their homes, with four million becoming refugees in other countries. The civil war in Syria as well as in a lot of other nations in the middle east and North Africa have become notoriously barbarous and ruthless.
It breaks my heart to see endless people being displaced out of their own homes. Families that were previously living peaceful lives are now forced to become refugees. Who is a refugee ? A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. According to the official statistics of UNHCR the number of forcibly displaced worldwide is 59.5 million.
Where are the human rights of all these people ? What if we are in that exact sam e plight as these people ? When did our world become filled with so much hate and violence ? I can keep posing endless questions here but i have no answers. None at all. Nobody in the world should live under shadows. Every individual matters. Every life matters. I hope that this world becomes a beautiful place – just the way it was intended and this mad charade of violence and bloodshed ends forever.
“Humanity; the most intelligent species on the planet, capable of anything, but is governed by it’s aggression and youth. A species fast in developing, but slow in maturing.
Once a species that cared about it’s home, it’s provider, let it’s ego dominate it’s decisions. A period of ignorance and neglect has had profound effects across the world. Effects which can be reversed, if nature is given the time to repair the damage.
As i sit down to write this post, the world is becoming a dangerous place. It’s slowly being consumed by hate, prejudice, stereotypes and most of all religious fundamentalism. A week ago there was a siege in a Sydney cafe. The world was appalled by the incident. Seventeen people were taken hostage and three were killed including the hostage-taker – Man Haron Monis, a fifty year old man born in Iran and settled in Australia. The Prime Minister of Australia -Tony Abbott has described Monis as “a deeply disturbed individual with a long history of crime, a long history of mental instability and infatuation with extremism.” The man has over forty cases concerning sexual and assault related offences and a history of religiously motivated activism. During the siege , Monis displayed an Islamic flag.
The world stood in solidarity with Sydney. The best thing that happened was the hashtag that trended globally on Twitter – #illRideWithYou. The motive and the feeling behind the hashtag was to support those individuals of the Muslim community who could have got cornered and who could have been possible targets of retaliatory attacks, just because one man (Haron Monis) was crazy enough to be so extreme that he landed up being responsible for a siege and killed innocent citizens. Australia set an example for the world to follow. It didn’t work up into an Islamophobic rage because of the actions of a single maniac. I’d like to share here how the hashtag started because it’s heart warming.
It started with a tweet from @sirtessa, a TV content editor and writer from Sydney whose real name is Tessa Kum. Tessa Kum told BuzzFeed News that “her heart broke” after reading a story tweeted by Rachael Jacobs as news of the hostage siege broke.Rachael Jacobs, on Facebook had posted a status in which she mentioned seeing a woman, she presumed was Muslim silently removing her hijab while sitting next to her on the train: “I ran after her at the train station. I said ‘put it back on. I’ll walk with u.She started to cry and hugged me for about a minute – then walked off alone’. This little encounter of Rachael Jacobs with a woman in religious attire inspired this Twitter user, @sirtessa, and she tweeted – “If you reg take the #373 bus b/w Coogee/MartinPl, wear religious attire, & don’t feel safe alone: I’ll ride with you. @ me for schedule.” Moments later she tweeted again “Maybe start a hashtag?What’s in #illridewithyou?” And that’s how it began 🙂
Some of the tweets under the hashtag were plain beautiful:
“I was going to drive to work tomorrow but seeing the outpouring of support changed my mind. #illridewithyou Thank you. See you on the train!”
“Anybody concerned for their safety going to work in Brisbane tomorrow morning from the Northside, #illridewithyou”
“illridewithyou because together the journey is more fun. That, friends, is our victory: one haters will never know.”
“i’m muslim and verry happy to see that people in austrilia know that a group of jihadist don’t represent all the religion #illridewithyou.”
Isn’t this a wonderful response from Sydney?? It just touches your heart and you feel that yes even in a world full of hate , there is goodness and people stand with and for each other above religion, colour, caste everything. At times like these, all we need is to be human. That’s all. The world should learn from Sydney because i can vouch for the fact that had this same incident happened elsewhere, including the top nations of the world, there would surely have been communal attacks and innocent people would have been targeted.
After the world stood in solidarity with Sydney, Peshawar in Pakistan witnessed one of the most brutal acts of violence. This time the victims were school going children. One hundred and forty one deaths in a just a few minutes. Out of these one hundred and thirty were children. I will not call it death , i will call it a massacre. The Taliban gunmen just stormed in classrooms and shot children randomly. They shot them in their heads point blanc. I am flabbergasted at the psyche of such inhuman brutes. Do they not think at all? Are they so weak to be brainwashed into killing innocents. What kind of a Jihad are they fighting for? They didn’t just kill children, they killed aspirations , dreams and hopes of a hundred families.They killed the future of a nation that just doesn’t learn and because of which every Muslim in the world gets ‘generalized’ as being a filthy human being.
I am an Indian. My country shares its border with Pakistan. Their internal disturbances affect us too. It affected us this time as well and we feel sorry for the people who are born in a country which in my view is a failed state with an absolutely weak establishment. We didn’t start a #illRideWithYou hashtag but we did start #IndiawithPak which has exactly the same intent as the hashtag from Sydney did. I feel proud as an Indian that majority of the people from my nation stood in solidarity with the families of the innocent kids that got massacred. I feel proud that even the most extreme right wing proponents showed their support . I’m proud that our Prime Minister spread the word for observing a two minute silence across schools in India today and the schools observed it. After all each and every innocent life across the planet is precious and terrorism in any form is to be condemned.
However what i am not proud of is the fact that when we as a nation stood in solidarity with our neighbouring nation, people like Hafiz Saeed from Pakistan were planning terror attacks on some of the major cities in India. Hafiz Saeed is the mastermind behind the terror attacks on the Indian Parliament. Pakistan , instead of nailing this marauder acquitted him of all the charges. He now lives in Pakistan as a free citizen. Not just this, underworld dons like Dawood Ibrahim live freely in Pakistan. Every limit was crossed today by Pakistan when just twenty four hours after the brutal carnage, a man known by the name of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi was released on bail for ,”lack of evidence.” Can you beat this.? Hypocrisy anyone? Yesterday their Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had taken a vow to combat terrorism and wipe out every single terrorist out of the country. Is this how the establishment plans to combat terror ? Lakhvi was one of the main accused in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks where we lost so many of our innocent people, our loved ones, our dear ones. And we haven’t yet healed. We really haven’t.
There are also spineless assholes ( i will not abstain from using such language because they deserve it) like Pervez Musharaf who publicly issued a statement slamming India and blaming us for the incident (God knows how) . He said,“Pakistan will harness these incidents to fuel old mythologies of hatred and provoke even greater violence against India and Afganistan.” I am flustered at the man’s audacity blaming a nation which has right from the outset preached for peace and that too for the entire region. We lose soldiers on our borders, we lose friends in terrorist attacks, we even get threats all the time. Yet we stood in solidarity for the families of the innocent children because we feel the pain and instead of appreciating this gesture, some madmen from Pakistan end up blaming us ? For what ? If only Pakistan had been more careful with their internal security, their country would be much better than what it is now. Today if Pakistan removes their security forces from their borders and use them for internal security, they still have nothing to worry about. I’m saying this with such surety because India will neither encroach their land nor violate the ceasefire. This is my beloved country that their establishment so easily blames. It’s upsetting.
Having said all this, i’d also like to point out that on Twitter there were so many people from Pakistan who not only appreciated India’s support but also held their establishment responsible for the violence and brutality of their nation. I’d like to share a few tweets here:
Hence there are people on both sides of the border who want peace everywhere and who appreciate what we do for them. I feel terrible for people who get ‘generalized’ because they happen to be a part of a particular nation or religion. I am sure just like me there will be women of of my age, my caliber and my dreams that are born in Pakistan. I am sure there are men who live in fear every passing day and who want to lead normal lives. I am sure that there will be people who are as fed up of the atrocity as we are. That is why how can one possibly ‘generalize.’ I am a woman and i hear all the time women being raped by men. But that doesn’t make every man a rapist. Likewise just because a few extremists and politicians of a country are spouting hate not just against India but anything progressive , doesn’t make an entire population culpable.
On twitter, i had a little debate today with a dear friend of mine. He too stood in solidarity for what happened with the children yesterday but was extremely aggravated by the bail of Lakhvi today. His point was that how can we as a nation stand up for Pakistan when they acquit people like Saeed & Lakhvi and they are completely hypocritical when it comes to terrorism. Now he’s right on this. He surely is. However my point was that even in a nation like Pakistan there definitely are people like my friend and me who are innocent so we have got to stand for them. How can we possibly hate them because it’s not their fault. His rebuttal was that the people are responsible because they are the ones who have chosen an establishment like this, Pakistan being a democracy. My counter was that people had to choose them because they had no other choice. Now both my friend and me are on the same page as far as our stand on terrorism is concerned. However he feels ( and he has every right to) that people in general in Pakistan are responsible for what happens to them while i say that they are not because it’s easier said than done. Taking a stand against the establishment is not easy , that too in a nation like Pakistan. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t. Ofcourse they should but it’s hard .It is. Either people will have to enter politics or get united (which i highly doubt by the way) and then pave a way for reforms. Pakistan needs a second freedom struggle. This time to counter the enemy within.
As a woman i feel very strongly on issues around and i speak up. I was just wondering if instead of India i was born in Pakistan with exactly the same attributes, would i be allowed to take a stand? The kind of person i am, i would have actually and i’m definite the fundamentalists would have shot me down in cold blood. Forget about taking a stand, i don’t think they would have allowed me to write a blog against the establishment that i can so freely do in India. That is why i said it’s easier said than done. I might believe and shout all my life that i want to combat terror but when my own family members will be taken hostage and i’d be warned to not believe what i’m doing, i’ll have to take a step back. Actually this holds true for every one not just me. We might be the strongest of people ,wanting to get rid of terror but we can’t when it comes to the people we love. A young girl of 15 – Malala Yousafzai gets shot in her forehead, takes a stand and becomes the youngest recipient at 17. to win a Nobel prize, that too for peace. This is an individual taking a stand. But she was forced to leave Swat Valley , the place where she belongs and now wants to fight terrorism from UK .I commend her courage but it’s sad that her country cannot accommodate her because she happens to be in a minority. Minority of individuals who need peace, who need education and who just like us want to progress.
This is the problem with Pakistan. It just doesn’t protect individuals who want to make their country a better place. It’s a country where the extremists don’t even want to allow kids to be educated. They are retrogressive. Fear is the strongest weapon that a terrorist uses against innocent citizens. So if individuals from Pakistan don’t take a stand , it’s not because they don’t want to. They are instilled with fear that they just can’t. But now is the time. Someone will have to initiate it and that too from the masses. I mean a country of 182.1 million with a handful of dolt politicians and extremists can be handled but that one initiation is required. Even though i know that this reform (if it happens) will lead to the loss of thousands of lives, it will have to be done some day and i hope that ‘some day’ arrives soon.
I read a quote once according to which – we end up being ruled by inferior people just because we are too weak to take a stand. Holds true. Pakistan needs to put their arrogance aside, stop blaming India for the mess they’ve created and save their ‘innocent’ citizens a lot of trouble by not letting them being ‘generalized.’ Even if today, Pakistan supports India in its fight against terror , it will be a better country in a lot of aspects. I tweeted yesterday that ,” Hillary Clinton had once said,”You cant keep snakes in your backyard & think they’ll bite only your neighbours. Pakistan is a failed state.” This is what Pakistan needs to introspect about. They need to stop harbouring terrorists, else their country will become living hell. My friend tweeted – “Selective approach against Terrorism will cost Pakistan dearly..how can a nation be so double speaking..#ridiculousPakistan“. This says it all. High time. Live in peace , let your innocent citizens live in peace and let us live in peace.
This is my last post for 2014. I’d like to see 2015 bring in more love, more compassion, more peace to the world. I’d like to see more unity, more oneness, keeping our prejudices aside. I really want our globalized village to be a much better place to live in. Wishing you all an extremely happy New Year. See you in 2015 with a greater zeal for every cause i strongly feel about. For now, I’d like to conclude by saying –
DON’T FIGHT WITH EACH OTHER, FIGHT THE COMMON ENEMY, FIGHT HATE !!
I’ve always believed that Chocolate is the greatest novelty invented on the face of the Earth. Right from a two year old infant to a ninety year old individual – everybody craves for it … And those who don’t like chocolates as such definitely enjoy the occasional flavour in cakes, puddings, custards, candies, ice-creams , wafers and even biscuits. No celebration, no occasion, no festival, no moment of gaiety is ever complete without savouring the snuff – coloured mass that instantly melts in your mouth. There’s an old quotation which says , “Books and chocolates make life bearable.” How true is that. However, have you ever wondered – What if the world runs out of chocolate one day ?? Sounds weird right ? I mean why will we even think that we can run out of chocolate . Isn’t it everywhere ? Well it is now but it may not be there forever.
The world is heading towards a global shortage of the world’s most favourite treat – Chocolate. Two of the largest and most famous chocolate makers of the world – Mars, Inc. (USA) and Barry Callebaut (Switzerland) have stated that the demand for chocolate is likely to outstrip its production by one million metric tons by 2020. The reason being that over 70% of the of the world’s cocoa is produced in the Ivory Cost and Ghana but growing conditions in West Africa have not been ideal. Also, cocoa typically is not their primary crop so it doesn’t get their first attention, even when its price is rising. Global cocoa reserves have been constantly falling over the past few decades. Cocoa, extracted from the Cacao tree is the base ingredient for chocolate and hence extremely vital. Asia alone, which is home to about 3.7 billion people is the the consumption “powerhouse” for cocoa and chocolate. The emerging markets of India and China have been in recent years, the biggest consumers of cocoa. Despite the shortage warnings, the increase in demand for chocolate was almost seven times greater in Asia compared to that of traditional European markets.There are concerns that repeated warnings in previous years have simply not been listened to.
John Mason of the Ghana-based Nature Conservation Research Council, predicted that “in 20 years, chocolate will be like caviar. It will become so rare and expensive that the average Joe just won’t be able to afford it.” Kennedy’s Confection magazine editor Angus Kennedy has said that – ” the future of chocolate could be threatened soon .Prices are set to soar over the next few years as chocolate becomes harder to get hold of. As a result many big-name companies are expected to fill bars that are smaller in size with more nuts and fruit because they are cheaper to produce.What we will see is a higher price for cocoa powder and, in turn, chocolate. The price for bars will go up over the next few years. You will see less chocolate in the bars. There will be smaller bars, more biscuits, more raisins, more nuts because they are cheaper to fill space with.Bars will probably be filled with a lot more sugar as well because it is the cheapest ingredient to bulk out the cocoa. The chocolate bar of the future” would be made with so little cocoa it will be “nothing like the chocolate we know and love”.
At its root, the chocolate shortage is caused by an imbalance between the demand for chocolate and the land available for planting. Traditionally, farmers have fought back against disease by planting trees on new land. Today, little land is available and hence the shortage. So if you love chocolate and want it on Earth forever, you better start making efforts to conserve the environment and moderate climate change. Just like global warming, the chocolate crisis may be prevented by ecologically sensitive, or “green,” technology. Start conserving and respecting the environment and its natural resources, else you will lose the irreplaceable flavour forever.. !!
( With inputs from Huffington Post & Time Magazine)
Difficulties they say , are like training camps. They make you confront what is real, which you may or may not have thought you’ll face. The early you face them in life, the more stable you get. The deeper the affliction, the more bright is the silver lining later on. When one falls on the ground and keeps on tumbling more and more, there comes a point , i call a ‘halt.’ Henceforth, one can only rise. There is no deeper pit to fall into. No rut to slip into. There is only the firm and steady surface to hold on , where you lie down with your head facing towards the sky and in that sky you see no darkness but the shining stars that twinkle brightly.
So, if you are at a point in your life right now , where situations are challenging and you feel exhausted, don’t be disappointed. Instead be thankful because your life is changing for good. When you look back upon this time five years from now, you will realize that your life was transforming. Not just transforming , but leading to a metamorphosis you never dreamed. Remember – For every setback you rose up to, there will always be a major come back…
..And this is how people discover their silver lining and turn rock solid !!
Woke up today to the extremely sad news of Robin Williams’ demise. The news of the veteran actor’s suicide is heart breaking and agonizing. Robin Williams’ was one of the few actors whose performances left the audience in awe of him. His movies have left an everlasting impression on so many people across the world. His performances will always remain relevant for all times to come no matter what the era because the messages conveyed to the audiences through his performances are eternal. I first watched him in the critically acclaimed movie ,’DeadPoets Society'(i’ll always be thankful to my brother for making me watch a superb film like this). What a movie and what a performance by Robin Williams. His character of the inspiring teacher Mr. John Keating is beyond words. His craft moved many including me. It made millions cry and more than that convinced us to re look at our lives and the way we were living it especially with dialogues like , “Carpe Diem – Seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary” or “You must strive to find your inner voice because the longer you wait to begin the less likely you are to find it at all” or “You must constantly look at things differently.” I mean the movie left such an impact that i literally am using the dialogues as quotes because i remember them. I also loved him in the very brilliant ,’Good Will Hunting’ where he plays the role of a therapist. The man even won an Oscar for his performance in the film. I can go on here about a lot more actually. The point is that his performances were just breath taking. Even better is the fact that Robin Williams was not just accomplished celebrity but a deeply humble man.
The social media is flooded with tributes for him and the kind of tributes he’s receiving shows that Robin Williams touched a million hearts. People are genuinely gutted by the news of his suicide.They are in denial that how can a man as talented and inspiring as Williams commit suicide. His own fraternity is also in deep shock. Some of the tributes by the people of his own fraternity on Twitter are worth mentioning here:
STEVEN SPIELBERG – “A lightning storm of comic genius and our laughter was the thunder that sustained him. He was a pal and I can’t believe he’s gone.’
BEN STILLER – ” A tweet cannot begin to describe the hugeness of Robin William’s heart and soul and talent.This is so sad #RobinWilliams… Ok i’ll try. I met him when i was 13 and a huge fan and he was so kind and i watched him be kind to every fan i ever saw him with…And with other actors he was generous and brilliant. He made everyone feel special and equal around him even he was the genius.”
ELLEN DEGENERES – “I can’t believe the news about Robin Williams. He gave so much to so many people.I’m heartbroken.”
..And there are many more across the digital spectrum. Shows the agony his death has caused to so many people.
Robin Williams will always rule our hearts. He will always be remembered because he has truly won our admiration. The world will always mourn his death. As a tribute to the great man, i feel like standing on the desk like the character of Todd did in ‘Dead Poets Society’ when Robin Williams (Mr. Keating) was about to exit and just as Todd calls out “O Captain! My Captain” so do i.