Saturday, September 13, 2008

The fascination for Hi-Fi

Man always tried to extend the limits of his abilities. Thus the idea of conquering the most challenging of the tasks fascinates him (the ambitious Big Bang experiment is one such example).

However, this attitude sometimes leads into negligence to basics. For example, one air crash absorbs all our attention, even though the number of dead in simple road accidents may be a thousand fold more. AIDS immediately comes to the mind when we say medical challenges, while diseases like malaria continue to kill more than 3000 children per day in Africa. What’s more, the malaria deaths are totally avoidable and preventable. Yet millions of dollars are poured into AIDS “awareness”, while much simpler, yet lethal diseases are happily forgotten. We hotly discuss the energy crunch in India and alternate methods of filling it. While that’s good, fundamentals like good power management are overlooked. The topics of more IITs and IIMs are passionately debated. But when was the last time primary education discussed with such passion? We closely follow the scheduled space flights of NASA. But how much do we know about rurally relevant technologies?

We are fascinated about the Hi-Fi, but neglect the basics. This behavior can be better understood with a background of the “slacker wins” attitude. The typical youth fantasy today is about an acne-pitted, pizza-gobbling, beer-guzzling mind-altered college dropouts in cut-off jeans and flip-flops starting a website and becoming billionaires. As an Asian times article points out, this attitude is reflected in even movies like “Kung Fu Panda”, in which a fat and feckless panda who in two easy lessons becomes a kung fu master. As film critic Carina Chocano lamented in the Los Angeles Times, "The slacker panda whose favorite word is 'awesome' is singled out for heroism when all the other characters have worked long and hard (the definition of kung fu) and sacrificed for what they've accomplished.

Underlying the seemingly good-natured adolescent humor movie is a nasty streak of resentment. Young men today profoundly resent the notion that they must subject themselves to the discipline in order to learn and advance - precisely what martial arts propose to teach.

Discipline and sacrifice are the two fundamental requirements for any great achievement. But most of us today are not willing to go for it, yet we want “greatness”. Thus the fascination for the Hi-Fi --- its makes more sense to choose a challenging job and not accomplish it (as you do not wish to give up slacking) than to choose a job which is achievable (you have to burn out your fat for that then).

Greatness does not lie in occasional sparks of genius, but in consistent hard work. In the words of Swami Vivekananda: “If you really want to judge of the character of a man, look not at his great performances. Every fool may become a hero at one time or another. Watch a man do his most common actions; those are indeed the things which will tell you the real character of a great man.”. Time to put these words into practice.


Blogger bhawanibharati said...

So True! Welcome to the new age of shallowness. Should read the essay by Nivedita on "Sincerity" on the very same topic.

3:31 AM  

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