“The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.”
~ John Steinbeck
The contents of that head lines from one of our papers is unimportant for the purpose of this post, but the two words Netas and Babus is very important.
Steinbeck should be here to assess what is going on in India. We have not given up on the first but the reaction of ordinary men and women in India to the latter is not love but total abhorrence. The men who practice sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest certainly love those traits and the two most visible lot are our Netas and Babus. One lot I am saving for another day is our businessman who is part of the establishment in what has come to be known as our crony capitalism.
Neta in Hindi means leader. In common usage it is used to denote our politician. And this cartoon tells you how the common people of India view that specimen.
MLA stands for Member of Legislative Assembly. This is the law making body of the state. MP stands for Member of Parliament. This is the legislative body of the Center.
Babu in Hindi means Bureaucrat. And these two cartoons illustrate what we think of them.
These two words today describe the disgust we feel about our leaders and bureaucrats. And that is what the newspaper headlines caught so endearingly.
“Perhaps the most overrated virtue in our list of shoddy virtues is that of giving. Giving builds up the ego of the giver, makes him superior and higher and larger than the receiver…It is so easy to give, so exquisitely rewarding. Receiving, on the other hand, if it is well-done, requires a fine balance of self-knowledge and kindness. It requires humility and tact and great understanding of relationships. In receiving, you cannot appear, even to yourself, better or stronger or wiser than the giver, although you must be wiser to do it well.
It requires self-esteem to receive–not self-love but just a pleasant acquaintance and liking for oneself.”
What an unusual yet profound view ! Till I came across this quote, my understanding was that giving is very difficult and receiving is relatively an easy process. After I read this quote, mulled over it and thought about the times that I was the receiver, I have come to the conclusion that receiving is a far more complex and difficult process than giving.
Fortunately I have been blessed with very few instances where I had been the receiver of great gifts and so, each instance can be brought back up to current reflection and analyzed. Perhaps memory will throw up a few more instances in the next few days, but they are unlikely to change my view that receiving with grace, elegance and genuine humility is an extremely difficult process. On analysis I find this to be so, because we take it for granted that the giver is fully aware of the quid pro quo involved and so, why make a song and dance about it? If the receiving had not taken place with one particular individual, it would have taken place with another, so, say thanks and move on.
I welcome your own thoughts on this unusual quote and my thoughts on it.