24 July, 2014

A Story about Territory, Mindest and yes, a Chicken

Many years ago, an elderly Arab gentleman told me a story about territory, mindest and chicken. It goes something like this:

Once there lived 2 tribes in a desert. One day a chicken went missing from one of the tribes (let's call it tribe A). Someone had seen a member from the other tribe (say, tribe B) steal it. The old man of tribe A said "they stole our chicken; we need to attack and finish off tribe B". His educated, modern sons laughed and said, "father, for god's sake, it's just a chicken!". The old man said, “you will regret this. I still think we need to attack and finish off tribe B".

Sometime later, a few goats were stolen. Again the old man tried to get his sons to attack and said "it is all about the chicken. You should have listened to me then", but they laughed it off saying, "we have too many goats anyway, let them take a few, no matter - and for god's sake, forget that chicken!"

Then one fine day, tribe B attacked suddenly, took over the only water source and also carried off a couple of women who were wives of the old man's sons. The sons, now shaken, rushed to the old man for advice and he said, "See, I told you, it all started with the chicken. Let this be a lesson. Never let the chicken get away".

My story-teller had said that this was what the 'never again' tribal mindset was all about. To strike hard and brutally at the very first sign.

This world view is completely opposite the ideal which sometimes leads courts in the West to punish a house owner for having used "excessive force" to rid his house of a burglar or even instances where an intruder may actually sue a home owner for having shot him.

In a world where ideals collide, how can we find the right balance?

21 February, 2012

Thought for the day

Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend - or a meaningful day.
                                  ~Dalai Lama

21 November, 2011

Rilke - On Loneliness

Reading Rilke. He continues to be one of my favorite poets and everytime I read his poems, they never fail to move me. Here is a beautiful one on Loneliness.

Einsamkeit ist wie ein Regen.
Sie steigt vom Meer den Abenden entgegen;
von Ebenen, die fern sind und entlegen,
geht sie zum Himmel, der sie immer hat.
Und erst vom Himmel fällt sie auf die Stadt.

Regnet hernieder in den Zwitterstunden,
wenn sich nach Morgen wenden alle Gassen
und wenn die Leiber, welche nichts gefunden,
enttäuscht und traurig von einander lassen;
und wenn die Menschen, die einander hassen,
in einem Bett zusammen schlafen müssen:

dann geht die Einsamkeit mit den Flüssen...

Loneliness is like rain.
It rises from the sea to meet the evening;
from the plains, which are far and remote,
it ascends to the heavens, it always has.
And it is from the heavens that it falls upon the city.

It rains down into the twilight hours,
when all alleys turn to face the coming dawn,
and when two bodies, that have found nothing,
disappointed and sad, let go of one another;
and when those who hate one another,
must sleep together in the same bed:

then - loneliness flows with the rivers...

Can there be a more vivid imagery?

22 July, 2011

Thought for the day

"The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one."
~ Mark Twain