Monday, April 30, 2018

Zeal - Virtue or Folly?

One of the first quotes I knew by heart was the one by Emerson which went, "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." Was it for an essay or an article, I do not remember. This post almost wrote itself, as I substituted the word 'enthusiasm' for the world 'zeal', this being the last post in the A to Z Challenge.

It is as I grew up further that I heard the phrase "where angels fear to tread", which meant that while it was wonderful to be enthusiastic, it was folly to take that one step further and turn into an over-eager beaver, akin to a busybody.

"Never let your zeal outrun your charity. The former is but human, the latter is divine."
Hosea Ballou

Thus, while being zealous is a virtue, there are occasions when one needs to keep it in check, lest it turn into fanaticism.

Youth Has No Age

The above quote resonates in my heart. "Youth has no age." The words ring so true, echoing the other axiom that you are as old as you feel.

"Youth is happy because it has the ability to see beauty. Anyone who sees the ability to see beauty never grows old."
Franz Kafka

Youth is also the time when one can take chances, run risks and do everything that one ever desired to do.

"Youth is the time to go flashing from one end of the world to the other to try the manners of other nations; to hear the chimes at midnight; to see the sunrise in town and country; to be converted at a revival; to circumnavigate the metaphysics, write halting verses, run a mile to see a fire, and wait all day in the theatre to applaud Hernani."
Robert Louis Stevenson

"Youth is not a question of years: one is young or old from birth."
Natalie Clifford Barney

There is no need to fear the phenomenon of growing old, according to the American poet, Walt Whitman.

"Youth, large, lusty, loving - Youth full of force, fascination. Do you know that Old Age may come after you with equal grace, force, fascination?"
Walt Whitman

The concept of youth is often amusingly put across by famous writers.

So, keep smiling, and stay young!

Sunday, April 29, 2018


What exactly is Xenophobia?

As the world gets to be a smaller place, connected as we all are through the Internet and social media, there seems to be a rise in the phenomenon of xenophobia, a fear or hatred of foreigners, or people who are different from us, culturally and otherwise. This has led to feelings of mistrust, hatred and discrimination leading to violence and warfare in many parts of the world.

It takes only a weapon and a heart filled with hatred for a man to exhibit symptoms of xenophobia.

In fact, xenophobia is most rampant against the weak, because they cannot stand up against it, maybe due to lack of strength or economic resources.

Racism and xenophobia spawned slavery, a practice which tacitly approved of human beings being subservient to races that considered themselves superior and more powerful.

The venerable Desmond Tutu offered a solution when he spoke of every person doing his bit of good for it is all those pieces of good put together that overwhelm the world. Nelson Mandela built up on that when he suggested that if people can learn to hate, they can also be taught to love.

If only the whole world could come together in love and happiness, it would be a much better place to live in. It is for our politicians, our statesmen, our educationists and for each one of us to turn into citizens of the world and bring down all the barriers of racism and xenophobia that divide us.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

"We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely in the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty."
Maya Angelou 

Maya Angelou is one of the most famous poets and writers of the present century. Her body of work is prolific - seven autobiographies, three books of essays, many volumes of poetry and also lists of movies, TV series and plays.

She is quoted by millions, and her quotes bring hope and good cheer, along with a sense of confidence and determination to all those who make a friend of her.

"Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous or honest."
Maya Angelou

Her most famous works include poems like 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings', 'Phenomenal Woman' and 'Still I Rise'.

She is considered one of the foremost African- American creative voices of the century.

Her sense of humour comes out in the poem "When I Think About Myself''.

When I think about myself, 
I almost laugh myself to death, 
My life has been one great big joke, 
A dance that's walked 
A song that's spoke, 
I laugh so hard I almost choke 
When I think about myself.

Sixty years in these folks' world 
The child I works for calls me girl 
I say 'Yes ma'am' for working's sake. 
Too proud to bend 
Too poor to break, 
I laugh until my stomach ache, 
When I think about myself.

My folks can make me split my side, 
I laughed so hard I nearly died, 
The tales they tell, sound just like lying, 
They grow the fruit, 
But eat the rind, 
I laugh until I start to crying, 
When I think about my folks. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Violence is not power

The world has transformed into a frightening place, as men fight men, wreaking violence upon one another. Violence has always been a keyword in the past, but the violence one witnesses today is nerve-wracking, as men seem to have lost their reason, committing heinous crimes against those weaker than themselves, especially women and children.

Many statesmen and world leaders have advocated against the use of violence.

 "Violence is unnecessary and costly. Peace is the only way."
Julius K Nyerere

"Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers."
Martin Luther King Jr. 

Men of letters have also condemned violence in the strongest language possible.

"Violence, even well-intentioned, always rebounds on oneself."
Lao Tzu

"Violence does, in truth, recoil upon the violent, and the schemer falls into the pit which he digs for another."
Arthur Conan Doyle - The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

"Violence is not power, but the absence of power."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Violence does not always take visible form, and not all wounds gush blood."
Haruki Murakami

As readers, we have seen violence in art, literature and drama, as villains fight heroes, and the vast saga of life continues, till good overcomes evil. However, the reverse happens as well, at times, leaving us in despondency and depression.

"Violence commands both literature and life, and violence is always crude and distorted."
Ellen Glasgow

Over the years, people have blamed films and television for having distorted the ideas of violence and aggression in the minds of the viewers. Issues like eve-teasing, rape, marital violence and even murder are shown with impunity, and the visual media is criticised for forcing violence out of the living rooms to actual venues outside, where crimes are duplicated. However, is it actually the fault of filmmakers and writers who only bring on to screen what they see in real life? Or does the onus lie on bad upbringing and disrespect?

"Watching violence in movies or in TV programs stimulates the spectators to imitate what they see much more than if seen live or on TV news. In movies, violence is filmed with perfect illumination, spectacular scenery, and in slow motion, making it even romantic. However, on the news, the public has a much better perception of how horrible violence can be, and it is used with objectives that do not exist in the movies."   
Steven Spielberg - Interview;Vega- 1993 

I do agree with the above quote, except where Spielberg hints that violence can ever be romantic in any way. That kind of thinking can be very dangerous, especially when it is followed by young men who believe it to be the truth, and act accordingly, as in our movies.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Uniqueness - Embrace it!

Every person grows up believing that he or she has some talent or gift that makes him or her stand apart from the herd. Mine, I believe, was the flair to tell stories and scare all the children in the family out of their wits. Maybe that is how I ended up writing short stories and novels that had a twist in their tales/tails.

I remember falling in love with the following quote which not only seemed like poetry in words, but also made perfect sense. It also spoke of tolerance, of equality, of acceptance and peace.

"Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best."
Henry Van Dyke

"Uniqueness or originality is nothing but doing ordinary things extraordinarily. And guess what! That is just what gives rise to excellence and profitability eventually. Thus, be and remain unique or original in all you do."
Emeasoba George

Uniqueness comes from how you deal with the world.

And finally, golden words from a lady who has proved that she is truly one of a kind!

"Use what you have to run toward your best - that's how I now live my life."
Oprah Winfrey

Monday, April 23, 2018

To Talk of Cabbages and Kings...

Have you ever noticed how prepositions can change the meanings of the commonest of words? For example, take the verb 'talk'. You can talk to people, about them, of them, with them and against them.

"The time has come," the walrus said, "to talk of many things; of shoes and ships - and sealing wax - of cabbages and kings." 

Lewis Carroll

The one difference between human beings and animals is the art of talking. While animals can communicate in their own ways, man is the only creature that can talk.

Some people talk in public, others put down their thoughts on paper. Writers write; orators wax eloquent.

"Talking and eloquence are not the same thing: to speak, and to speak well, are two things. A fool may talk, but a wise man speaks."

Ben Jonson - Discoveries Made Upon Men and Matter

The gossip-mongers talk, but their words are empty, devoid of emotion, and filled with malice.

Talking isn't doing. One can talk and talk, but unless one acts, words remain just words, devoid of action.

Talking to oneself can cause people to poke fun at one. However, one can react in a totally diverse manner and amuse oneself.

Often there are reasons why people prefer not to talk about certain topics. 

However, what we all do need to understand is that when we talk, we have little eyes on us. Our children tend to hang on to our words and act exactly like us.

Thus, choose your words carefully. You never know when you might have to eat them.

And finally, in the words of Walt Disney himself,


  ‘Tales that Entail’ by Jaseena Backer is an anthology of stories that are hard-hitting and realistic. Right from the first story, the auth...