Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thoughts on Money, Life

Aaron Swartz is a smart guy. Apart from being a pretty famous geek, he also writes quite well. He's written something recently which made me think. Well, these days I neither have the energy or time to write lengthy forceful philosophical arguments. Because, my world view has been changing a lot to. Something very unexpected and special happened to me, and it is forcing me to reconsider all my previous choices and philosophical stances.

For example, I was staunchly against giving money to beggars before. Whatever the condition, no money for beggars. That's it. Now, I'm not so sure anymore. While philosophically I still believe it's the correct stance, it doesn't change the fact that the old woman would be going a little hungrier because I refused to give alms. Of course, I still refuse to give money to kids and young women, but I'm definitely a little more considerate towards old people begging.

The point is, I'm changing. Things what I thought were set in stone are no longer so. You can say my belief system is shaking up. But for the better, I think. I'm a little less tightly wound, a little more considerate, and a little more forgiving towards people who are less than what they can be. Why? Because, I have seen how even imperfect people create absolute beauty in what they do. For example - one of my favorite artists, a life long drug addict, produces music that sometimes makes me want to cry. I am pretty sure my life is a little better because I got to listen to his music. So what gives me the right to sit in judgement on what others do with their life?

France - I used to have endless arguments with my french cousin about how her country is hopelessly socialist, doing it all wrong and is screwed up in so many ways. But I see that it is the only country which stood up to China with regards to Olympics. The Olympic torch was extinguished thrice in Paris and brought sharp focus to the Tibet problem. Compare that to our so called neo-capitalist country - like pussies, our govt. provided unprecedented security to the torch, which was pretty much invisible to the general public, and was only too keen to suppress pro-Tibet protests and toe the Chinese line. So a supposedly socialist country did a better job of upholding the ideal of liberty than a capitalist one, which is supposed to do that job better (at least in my book).

Of course, that only makes my guilt heavier - I did judge somebody very close once and hurt them very badly. And I'm still hopelessly sorry about it. My friend, if you are reading this, and if you still consider me that, I'm terribly sorry, I should not have done what I did. So what's the point I'm trying to make? Keep searching. What you thought is the truth, might not be. Be ready to question even your staunchest beliefs. That's all I can say.

So, now that my belief system is shaken so thoroughly, am I the sadder person? Surprisingly, not at all. I'm all the more happier, because I feel I'm a better person now. I found something new that brings new meaning to my life (no, it's not a girl, in case you're wondering). I'm taking a lot of things easier, and I hope I'm becoming an easier person to get along with. Time will tell :).


Anonymous said...

I completely disagree when u say India turned a blind eye to the Tibetan issue. In fact India was one of the very first countries that condemned the violence.Even Dalai Lama was happy with India's stance and described our PM as the 'greatest living Gandhian ever'.

Further it made clear that it will not ban the protests by Tibetan refugees during the Olympic Torch relay because it believes that 'Tibetans the right to express themselves peacefully and democratically while respecting the laws of the land'.

And i am sure you heard about a parallel relay by the Tibetans that took place simultaneously. What more can India do? In fact it houses the largest number of Tibetan refugees.

Though my views have disoriented the original focus of your article, Great blog!

Vamsee said...

Hi Anon, thanks. While I agree with you on the point that we have allowed the protesters to take out a march peacefully, it still doesn't change the fact that there were battalions of police to protect the torch and most regular people could not even watch the torch relay. That is over-doing it. Sure the torch is protected, but I think a bit of the spirit that goes with an olympic torch was lost there.

I also don't like the way the Indian government jumped up on the opportunity to condemn the Tibetan protests, calling Tibet is still part of PRC. Do we have to sound like such wimps? And what do we get in return? China trying to steal the Iran-Pak-India gas line. Way to go, spineless politicians. And Chinese internal Army memos opining that India shouldn't misuse china's "generosity".

I'm very, very, concerned about how India is cozying up to China. It's almost nauseating.

Anonymous said...

We cant really blame China for trying to steal our pipeline..TO be honest i think partly it was because of the immaturity of all the three countries.Iran was uncooperative coz India voted against them and Pak can never see eye to eye with India on almost any issue.

Further China is the largest trading partner India has. India's stand on the Tibetan issue has been very diplomatic and smart..

Unni said...

Olympic torch is a symbol of the sporting spirit, uniting people around the world in peaceful competition. It symbolizes the bonds of peace between nations and therefore the Olympic flame should never expire.

Tibetans may have issues with China. But disturbing the Olympic torch during its journey through other countries - It was never the right way to protest. Olympic flame is an entity that represents the entire world - trying to extinguish it is a disgrace to the whole world. So Tibetans protesting against China by disturbing the Olympic flame - its not something which should be encouraged and supported.

The Olympic torch was extinguished thrice in Paris and not even once in India - we must feel proud about it. "there were battalions of police to protect the torch and most regular people could not even watch the torch relay" - It is sad that the regular people couldn't watch the relay - but who is to be blamed? Definitely its not the government. As the responsible government of a nation, it had to provide all security to a global property while in its territory.

Vamsee said...

Well, what you say about Olympics is true in theory, but in the real world, Olympics are a highly political event. Just the idea of involving different cultures from across the world inevitably brings in political hues to the event. You can't really blame them - nobody takes sport as a sport - take our cricket fanaticism, for example - can you deny that it is highly politicized?

Next - China has an agenda of it's own - Olympics are a kind of coming out party - that "hey, finally, we have arrived, everything's great around here, we're a great country". Tibetans, naturally feel otherwise, and they are using the games as a platform to make a statement.

When China can use Olympics to try and whitewash its' horrible human rights violations record (see: Tiananmen Square protests) , it's only fair that people who are on the receiving end of it use the same platform to tell the world what is happening to them. You cannot say something cannot be politicized - if there is a public event attended by thousands and viewed by millions, it's an automatic magnet for several interests to attract attention of the larger public.

All we can do, based on facts and available information, is choose sides. My side, I guess is obvious. FREE TIBET!

Vamsee said...

Btw, I feel ashamed that the flame is not extinguished even once in India. Either the protesters are not determined enough, or we have clamped down a iron hand on protests - just like China does. As we know, the former is not true. And it's truly unfortunate that the latter is the case.

Vamsee said...

You might be interested in this - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGJoaHr2QdM

Unni said...

Everything is politicized nowadays - our cricket is politicized - even Olympics is no exception - all said and agreed. But is it the right way to go? China has already politicized the Olympics, so its okie for tibet to use it to stage its political problems - this argument is lame.

Olympics is a "public event attended by thousands and viewed by millions, it's an automatic magnet for several interests to attract attention of the larger public" -- thats right. And its the same logic used by terrorists, to attract world's attention when they blast bombs on innocent people all over the world.
Should that be encouraged?

i am never supporting China or even mentioning about the political issues it has with Tibet. I am only saying that its wrong to mix politics with Olympics(sports). True, that it is already politicized, we should feel bad about it, and try our best to not to encourage this tendency, rather than making it more contaminated.

Vamsee said...

I don't understand that argument. When do something, there are always consequences. I don't even professionally collaborate with people who I feel are not nice to others. They might have done nothing to me, but still, I find it very difficult to associate myself with mean people.

Olympics are much more than "sports". It is an ode to human spirit. It is a grand celebration of humanity. The whole point of bringing hundreds of athletes together is celebrating that human spirit. So doesn't it feel jarring that a country so reputed for squashing human rights should host such a special event?

I've read on a protest poster in SF - "would we have allowed nazi germany to host the olympics"? If you know jews are being killed by the millions, would you still send your country's sportsmen to participate because they're "just games"? Won't you find it repugnant?

These protests are just a reminder to people to not let China get away with what it's doing - whitewashing itself as a normal country, while continuing to suppress a whole people. Olympics are special - they celebrate humanity - and a country with such horrible human rights record has no moral standing to host the Olympics. None at all.

Unanchored Sails said...

well.... i can say the entire space as been taken up by the tibet issue..anwyays i was just going to comment...'OMG! someone is growing up !':)...

PS: btw a year back when i wrote something similar u call it 'moral dilemmas'.. :P !