The author does not believe in most moral absolutes. What is right and what is wrong, in most cases, is a very personal choice based on the doer’s personal value system and understanding of the context. One man’s right is often the other man’s wrong. An (imperfect) rule of the thumb maybe ‘if something gives me happiness, and does not directly make anyone else unhappy’, it is generally okay to pursue. The author also does not find anything wrong per se in living a life of pleasure, as long as one does not hurt others, does not lose sight of the larger spirituality and the doer is intellectually strong enough to not suffer guilty pangs later on.
Navigating through life’s moral dilemmas.
Morality is an invention of the weak to neutralize the strength of the strong
– Callicles (in Plato’s Gorgias)
How did morality develop? Why did some things become ‘right’ and some others – often even very natural urges – become ‘wrong’? Biologists point to the mammalian practice of group living, which made overall survival for the species easier in an otherwise dangerous planet. Over hundreds of years, this living in groups necessitated some social rules that could protect the group against internal conflicts and ensure stability of the population. Morality then became an invention of the group to deter people that would go against the group. “Don’t cheat, steal or lie. Care for children and weak. Practice empathy and reciprocity. Avoid adultery and incest. Greatest good for the greatest numbers.”
Most of us, in the June of our lives, have experienced the blissful feeling of ‘falling in love’. The stress of everyday living suddenly vanishes, time seems to stop and the only thing that matters is closeness to the beloved. However, is that really love? For if it is, then why is it regularly so transient, so temporary. There are childhood romances that continue for a lifetime, and then there are some that fade out over few years. How do we distinguish between genuine love and infatuation?
Most of us, in the June of our lives, have experienced the blissful feeling of ‘falling in love’. The stress of everyday living suddenly vanishes, time seems to stop and the only thing that matters is closeness to the beloved. My own experience as a starry eyed teenager was no different. Life revolved around just catching a glimpse of the beloved, and, I swear, her one smile was infinitely more important than all material possessions. Hours really flew by when we were together, and I – otherwise ‘creativity challenged’ – actually gifted her more than a thousand cards, most handwritten! Indeed, we were ‘madly in love’.
My current work draws heavily from my experiences in Allahabad. Every day I saw thousands of graduates from Allahabad University and its affiliate colleges roaming around because they had no work: degree but not a job. On the other hand, at senior levels within corporate world, most of my colleagues complained they desperately needed people but couldn’t find the right talent. It was a classic case of ‘water, water everywhere… but not a drop to drink.’ The basic issue was that the graduates produced by our universities were not really Employable. The industry wanted Corporate Exposure, Grooming and Personality, Spoken English, Thinking-on-the-Feet ability… and that’s where students from smaller cities lagged behind. This prompted 17 of us from various IIMs to start India’s first chain of finishing schools. Today we have achieved our grand ‘Vision 10×10: Making 10,000 Indians Employable by 2010’, but the seed was first sown in Allahabad.
The other distinct memory is of my alma mater, St. Joseph’s College. Teachers like Mr. Rafeal and Mrs. Gandhi embodied what a good teacher should be: immense knowledge with immense concern for the student. My first brush with leadership was also as college captain at SJC – I realized how much soft skills and personality are important and the practical limitations of bookish knowledge.