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Friday, February 27, 2015

Celebrate the “joy of breathing” and “serving”: nothing else matters

Only if you have served another person, can you call yourself human. Period.

All this debate over Mother Teresa is sickening. Bad enough that we have a petty mind charging her with preaching Christianity – as if it were a crime; while at the same time over-looking the years of unputdownable service she personally led for the poor, sick, downtrodden and dying. What’s even more repulsive is the social media stances taken by “informed, educated” folks who make justifications for her role in either serving humanity or in practicing and preaching her religion. To me, personally, Mother Teresa is among the greatest human beings to have walked on earth. She served without ever thinking of what she deserved. Had she been alive now, her response to all this nonsense about her would have been, to quote a teaching from the Bible (Luke 23:34): “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing!!”

To be honest, I have come to realize and conclude that religion, as it is being practiced today, has no role in our lives. In fact, it is being thrust on us and is dividing us. At a time when the world craves for unity, inner peace, love, understanding and compassion, anything – religion included – that divides the human race is unwelcome. It doesn’t matter to me – and it shouldn’t matter to anyone else either – whether the people I cohabit this world with are Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Sikhs or Buddhists. The fact is that all of us have the same volume of blood running through our veins – 5.5 liters; all that blood is red in color; we have the same 24 hours to call a day and make it count and we breathe the same air. So, how can we be different at our deepest core – as human beings? Even if we wear our clothes differently, even if we eat different cuisines, speak different languages, even if we live in different countries, we are first humans, citizens of planet Earth, before we choose to identify ourselves basis the color of our skin, our nationality, our language and, sadly, religion. Mother Teresa was one of those people who reminded us, through her servant attitude, that our true work is to love and serve others like us without expectations, without imposing conditions and, while doing all of this, experience the beauty and magic of compassion. To point at Mother Teresa is to accuse the pristine spirit of humanity. My humble, unsolicited perhaps, perspective: only those who have done even 0.0000000001% of what Mother Teresa has done for humanity in her lifetime have a right to comment on either side of this insipid debate raised by, of all people, a petty rabble rouser!

Maneesha: Knows the "joy of breathing"
We have a beautiful friend named Maneesha. She miraculously survived the gruesome fire tragedy at Carlton Towers in Bangalore five years ago. But the accident claimed her voice, and for the first three years, her vitality. She now communicates through an implant in her larynx. If anyone knows the value of the “joy of breathing” it is Maneesha. She received the first copy of my Book, “Fall Like A Rose Petal – A father’s lessons on how to be happy and content while living without money” (Westland, August 2014) when it was launched in Bangalore last year. Receiving my Book she said, in reference to her miraculous escape, “…During, what seemed an endless wait, where we waited to be rescued from the seventh floor of Carlton Towers, all that was on my mind was the hope to be able to breath fresh, non-toxic air. I suddenly realized that all of us who were trapped badly wanted just one gasp of air – nothing else mattered.” Her poignant recall sums up Life – if all of us breathe – and need – only the same air, why do we fight or gloat over our differences? At the end of the day, what matters to stay alive, irrespective of which religion we belong to, is each breath of fresh air that we intake. And through staying alive what makes Life meaningful is the opportunity to be human.
Mother Teresa by Raghu Rai, 1979
Picture Courtesy: Internet

It really doesn’t – and shouldn’t – matter what religion you practise or how much you earn. Only if you have served another, have you earned your right to call yourself human. Mother Teresa, as we all know it, has earned that right several times over. Bottomline: let’s celebrate, like Maneesha, the “joy of breathing” and let’s try to serve, inspired by Mother Teresa, selflessly, so that we too can earn our right to call ourselves human. If we can do these two well, will (our) religion ever matter?

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