Monday, March 25, 2013

The Pied Piper of New York

The Pigeon Man of Washington Square Park

"Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love."
~Mother Teresa


If you’ve been to Washington Square Park, it’s difficult to miss this man who’s seen there nearly everyday with a fan following largely comprised of pigeons, squirrels and other little birds. Of the several other eye-catching residents of WSP, this individual is a delight to watch. I'm not sure if he's homeless or just another guy who finds his peace amongst his tiny friends but there's surely some kind of peace that overcomes upon you as you stand there and watch the squirrels and birds come up right to him and eat out of his hand, as if he's one of their kind. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Haters will hate!



Don't they?

Two amazing things happened in these last 10 days. One, I caught up with a few videos I have been planning to see for a few months. Another, I’ve finally come to hate half of mankind a little more, if that was possible.

Satyamev Jayate, the Aamir Khan hosted talk show on Indian television has been creating a few ripples and then some. It was all over my facebook, twitter and even in conversations I had with friends the same day all the way here in New York. Oddly though, I managed to survive 5 weeks without watching a single of the 5 episodes aired so far. That was till the weekend.

I caught up with two of the episodes yesterday. Expectedly, I was moved to tears, had every single hair on my body stand on its end, wanted to give up everything and devote my life to a social cause, and at some moments felt like I just want to run away, somewhere, not sure where, (is that normal?). I’ve stayed up last night wondering how is it that someone, somewhere, made up of the same flesh and bone and brain as God (or science? Both ok?) put in my body, could have committed crimes so heinous. Grandfather raping his 2-year old granddaughter? Biting off your wife’s face for delivering a baby girl? Surely, these things don’t really happen, do they? Sadly, as I realized years ago, they do.

Another thing I saw is the Kony 2012 video! Yes, yes after all these months. For the uninitiated, please take a look at this and this.
But I’m not going to talk about the issues raised by either of the two. These are dialogues that have a beginning, but no end. What has got me reeling reall, is the disbelief at how many cynical people exist in the world. Sadly these cynics are not in hiding at someplace that I would never know, but right there, lurking in the next facebook post or tweet, perhaps in a casual cafe conversation.  

Before I even saw the first SJ episode, someone remarked to me, “Watch, but don’t take it seriously, it’s not so good also haan. It’s just a stupid publicity thing by Aamir. He’s not getting any good movies, that’s why he’s trying to gather public sympathy.”
Then there was that video by the Ugandan girl who called the Kony 12 video a total fraud. And the several other videos. Forgive me for my ignorance, but am I missing some larger point here?

To me it’s as clear as this – somebody has made an attempt to make a change. Either do something better or stop trying to pull them down!

It appalls me to think how many people out there are criticizing Aamir and Jason of the Kony video (here, please feel free to extend these names as metaphors to anyone who has ever stood up for a cause), as individuals out for a vested interest, trying to get public attention for their own good and nothing else.

Is this behavior exhibitive of a typical crab drag down crab mentality, an ad hominem, or worse? I’d say the worst because not one of these people with an opinion is ever able to substantiate it. Their words are at best a regurgitated hash of what they’ve been fed through a perpetually-slow-news-day media or they’re saying things they don’t mean, only to prove to an equally disbelieving and mostly disinterested audience that they could have an opinion different than the rest.

Of course Aamir had his own interest when he agreed to host the show. Of course Jason Russel hoped to raise money for his organization when he made Kony 12. But how, in the name of God, do their interests not compare as infinitesimal to the larger good that their voices can do and have been doing to the world?

Think about this - if even one child, a single child, raised his/her voice against the abuser after watching Aamir’s show, or one woman put her fears on the backburner for a day and confronted her family, refusing to abort her girl child, or even if even one child was saved from being abducted from Africa (does it even matter that Kony moved from Uganda to Sudan or Congo or anywhere else or that he hasn’t struck for 7 years? He’s still out there goddamit), then any thing that these guys have tried to achieve, has been achieved. Anything they have wanted for themselves is irrelevant. Even a single incident of change has been a real contribution. Maybe that one child won’t seem like such a small number, if it was someone you knew!

To all the haters and non-believers and cynics and critcs out there, I have only this one thing to say – Unless you have a better recipe for change and are willing to stick your neck out for it, stop nitpicking!