Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Stay Pretty, Not Petty

People are petty by nature. They may be pretty but they'll still be petty. Listen to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and you'll see how petty their lyrics are. I like them. Everyone I know does but Dancing in the Zombie Zoo is a petty song. If there was a Mount Petty I'd be the first one to plant a flag in there. You must wonder where I'm going with this petty blog of mine. Well, here comes the morning Bhutanese sun and being superstitious creatures absorbed and obsessed by auspiciousness, I'll tell you why.
There are people who vow to be, and are, by all subjective appearances, the epitome of Gandhi's "be the change you wanna see in the world." At first meet and glance, they'd have you belittled and bemoaning the meaningless nature of your own existence. That's the kind of power they wield. They do social work - work with kids and stuff; recycle stuff and transform trash into art. They do this in public squares and parks. When they do get into these noble ventures there are announcements aplenty. They also manage another hefty task while going about these lofty chores - they get the big folks to come attend the ceremonies, scissors, ribbons and all. It's enough to startle and panic you at one stroke.

I'm a sucker for righteousness and fairness, and dillydally, a sucker for the top dogs helping the underdogs. So I did my two little bit - got writing about the righteous fair folks who were helping those poor disenfranchised kids from the hood. Those fair folks got pages in major publications where their fair play and humanity were extolled to kingdom come. And right on cue, everyone came offering the same exaltation and salutation. The fair folks smiled. We were grateful to have partaken in our own sideways. Then something happened (as it always does when you smile too much and start to grin); their first crack of pettiness shone through. The honorable gentlemen and their vast array of activities took a hardened bow when another fair being walked into their cocooned little fiefdom and discovered the slavery and the plunder within. The loot was vast and the method was deception. The mode and medium of the deception was the poor little kid from the hood - there is nothing more powerful in the world than appealing for charity on an emotional front with kids dangling in front of would be patrons. Individuals go soft and organizations melt. It’s all marsh mellows from here on.

But you see, there is a silver lining. Pettiness always shines through. Hitler got petty when his decisions went awry. Mussolini was a big petty thug of a man. Dubya got so petty over the first Gulf War he actually thought Saddam had dissed his Pa and went about initiating two wars in the middle-east. It’s still war on and Dubya's sitting in his petty ranch felling silly petty, I bet.

Back home, our honorable folks couldn't contain their pettiness either. There's nothing quite as lethal as emotional "atyachar". People, being petty by nature, will devour you when they find out how petty you have been with their generosity. Now that the pettiness has been established and made public, there are petty arrows being shot helter-skelter. I’m pretty petty but I know where my pettiness lies. Beyond that I dare not lie about my pettiness. The point is, the world is burdened enough as it is and people suffer enough as it is. Knowingly playing to people’s innate sense of empathy and emotionality and putting a price tag there with the wrong intention is never ever gonna make you happy ever. If pettiness, greed and selfishness were qualities to admire, then Gandhi’s advice would be an obsolete tool.
Stay pretty, not petty.

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