Monday, May 15, 2017

Altruism

Yesterday, my facebook friend Pramod Kudchadkar passed away after losing out the battle with illness. His eyes (cornea) were donated along with his body to be useful to someone else. The cornea will help two persons have their sight restored and the body will aid many directly and indirectly. Truly an act of altruism by the one who pledged and the family who honoured that pledge!

The word ‘altruism’ was devised by French philosopher Auguste Comte in French, as altruisme, as an antonym of the word ‘egoism’. He derived it from the Italian altrui, which in turn was derived from Latin alteri, meaning ‘other people’ or ‘somebody else’. It is about selflessness as a practice born of the concern for others.

Altruism is when an individual performs an action at a cost to himself but it benefits another individual, sans any expectation of reciprocity or compensation for that action. It is pertinent to note that altruism is different from sentiments of obligation which are predicated by relationships. Altruism is beyond relationships and hence it benefits others.

This world will be a better place if more and more of us choose acts of altruism. This ethical creed insists that individuals are morally obliged to benefit others. Besides other ways of helping others sans any expectation, it includes donation of blood while alive and pledging of eyes, organs to be donated after death. Like Pramod let’s choose to be useful to ones who we don’t know, even when we are no more!

Death cannot deter true benefit to others…
If altruism is chosen over burial or embers!


~ Pravin Sabnis

Monday, May 8, 2017

Precious Gift

A wandering woman found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveller and she opened her bag to share her food. He saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveller left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime.

However, a few days later, he came back to return the stone to the wise woman. ‘I've been thinking,’ he said. ‘I know how valuable this stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me this stone.’


Sharing could involve collective use or outright gifting of one’s possession. We find it easier to share joint use, but find internal resistance if asked to part with valuables… be they resources, knowledge or skills. So often, for most of us, sharing is a comparative and reflexive activity. We give gifts to only those who give us gifts.

We are seized by insecurities towards our possessions. Consider knowledge for instance. Those who readily gift knowledge to the others are more worthy than the greatest of scholars who refuse to share their knowledge. In my occupation, the most admired trainers are not the ones who are the best at what they do; but ones who have ‘nurtured’ other trainers.

The ability to gift without any preconditions of transaction leads to a great treasure. By letting go, we liberate ourselves. By sharing, we enhance our relationship with the other person. By gifting, we empower our attitude and abilities. Such an attitude of unconditional sharing is the most precious gift that we can possess.

let go of the insecurities of possession
precious is the gift born of liberation!


~ Pravin Sabnis

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cacaphony



Singer, Sonu Nigam tweeted about being forced to wake up due to the disturbance caused by the loudspeaker blaring out calls for prayers. Although, he mentioned a specific instance in his locality, he added that he was against all cacophony that violated the peace as well as the legal restrictions.

The virtual space turned cacophonic. Some accused him of insensitivity and selective prejudice. Some agreed with his basic assertion against use of loudspeakers in public space. Some found it yet another excuse to play polarising posturing by diverting the discussion.

It is pertinent to note that cacophony refers to ‘loud, confused, and usually inharmonious sound’. And the response (to a valid request to observe basic civic sense) was selective in its indignation. So often we find that persons, who use loud jarring ringtones, are irritated by the ones used by their neighbours.

It was obvious that we find our own cacophony as a necessity while that by others seems a nuisance. If we all lower our own volume of sound, the world will be a better place. This should be followed by all occupants in public space. Our right to be heard cannot be allowed to deafen others by excessive decibels.

Cacophony is the same, whether thine or mine
Lower volume in public spaces is truly divine!

~ Pravin Sabnis

Monday, April 10, 2017

Keeping a friend alive

When he was alive some would refer to him as ‘your friend’
And then mock him for what he said or did against the trend…
Now that he is no more, they say he was ‘their close friend’
As they declare they were with him on issues together to fend!

Some cry more fiercely than the ones who truly grieve
Some lament louder than hearts turned into a sieve…
Some talk about memories that the world always knew
Some stalk on the stage as if they are the heroic few!

But time will show who really were under his spell
Who were the ones that he inspired so well…
For the many fans, their hero will never be felled
They will continue the story that he lived to tell!

The one who has died can live on forever
in minds, in hearts and actions of the lover…
His legacy of empathy would diminish never
If we choose focus over occasional fervour!

The thoughts of his mind, should be ours too
Where actions are more and words are few…
With words to be used for deeds that are new
We can keep him alive, in a legacy that we sew!

We can keep our friend alive if we rededicate
To his commitment to compassion predicate
In the end, our actions over time will indicate
That his worthy living we chose to truly vindicate!


~ Pravin Sabnis
(Written in the aftermath of the death of a compassionate combatant for human dignity and justice, Satish Sonak… with the intent to trigger a resolve in self and others who want to keep him alive)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Fed back

Salt is a crucial ingredient for most culinary preparations. If it is in lesser than normal proportion, we point out the error to the cook; so that the necessary amend can be made. While we, so easily, point out the deficit of salt, we forget to point out when the salt is in the right proportion!

It is pertinent to note that we find it easy to identify the fault but we often forget to appreciate the absence of an anomaly. We take for granted that feedback is only to point out deficiency. Surely, it is unfair if feedback only identifies mistakes and does not involve in appreciation for an action done right.

Feedback is a process in which effect or output of an action is 'returned' (fed-back) to modify the next action. It is the information that helps the recipient adjust current and future behaviour to improve performance. But it is not only the pointing out of mistakes that help improvements. Appreciation has its own impact as motivation.

We have to respect the hand that feeds when we give feedback. There are so many who serve us… the cooks, the helpers, the servicemen, the hygiene keepers, the farmers, the utility workers… so many who ‘feed’ us but do not receive appreciative ‘fed-back’. Instead, we keep harping on errors till they get fed-up. We need to ensure that the ‘fed-back’ remains fair at all times!

The ones who serve may occasionally err
But the ‘fed-back’ must be constantly fair!


- Pravin K. Sabnis

Monday, March 27, 2017

Not heard!

In my various training interventions with the deaf and mute, I observed two distinguishing characteristics. Firstly, they were good at grasping my communication. Secondly, all the ones I met looked half their age! Persons who were forty years old looked just twenty. The faces of parents looked young enough to be teenagers.

While the first seemed logical the second seemed intriguing. But, over the years I realised that the reason was that they had ‘not heard’ a single negative comment or discouraging statement or a humiliating condemnation. Hence they had lesser reasons to frown, sulk or get angry. This resulted in a less strained face.

Now look at the children who can hear. They hear a lot of negatives and judgemental statements. They hear more ‘don’t’s than ‘do’s. They keep hearing unfair comparisons with others. Such, damaging talk leads to negative self-esteem or doubts in self-worth. Just imagine if children had ‘not heard’ undesirables.

The spoken word can be a severe blow. Hence sages have recommended restraint while expressing the negative. Of course, it is pertinent to note that besides the word, the tone too carries the potential to undermine the recipient. We must choose to ensure that the regressive is ‘not heard’!

Self-esteem helps soar like a bird…
When the judgemental is ‘not heard’!


- Pravin K. Sabnis



Monday, March 20, 2017

Defeat Death

A young man was seized by an existential dilemma. He felt life was futile since death was not in his control. He believed that every effort of his would be in vain if death were to make an unsolicited occurrence. Hence, he decided to commit suicide. 

As he walked to a cliff edge, past memories kept flashing in his conscious memory. Eventually, his mind moved to the future. He began visualising the reactions of people to his death. His imagination projected a refrain, ‘he killed himself!’

He realised that his demise would be of his chosen method and at his selected time and place. Obviously, he had a say over his death. He turned back from his tracks and moved on to take head-on the challenges of life… and death!


So often, we give up on doing things we like to do just because we are convinced of the certainty of failure. This is similar to giving up on life, just because death is a certainty. Let’s not worry too much about defeat or death and the uncertainties that surround them. We must overcome the negative to nurture positive possibilities.

Bhagat Singh wrote, ‘Jeena hai toh marna seekho yaaro’ (to live well, learn to die). At the age of 23, he happily walked to his gallows along with his colleagues and he showed us how to embrace life by defeating death! Even though his death day was advancing, he did not give up on life, putting every minute to appropriate use.

Defeating death is all about moving beyond the vice of ambiguity. When we defeat diffidence we discover possibilities. The one who is halted by the sceptre of death will always be blind to the ways to be alive. The glorious uncertainties of life are far more empowering than the destabilising certainty of death.

Life is full of possibilities fresh…
Choose to defeat death’s crash!


- Pravin K. Sabnis