Musings for a responsible society




Amidst the dark and grey shades increasingly engulfing, invading and piercing deeper and deeper, let me try to enjoy the little smiles, genuine greens, and the gentle breeze. Oh! Creator! If you don't exist, my life...in vain!
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20190105

Dear Cameraman, Beauty is only Skin-deep!










I have seen still cameras, especially those attached to the smart phones, with auto option which clicks on its own when the person photographed is smiling. I find that there are many video cameras doing such ‘great’ jobs by continuously focusing on “pretty’ faces. We can see this in the video clippings aired by the news channels and in the TV shows and also in the videos of marriages and other functions.

Why do the video cameras focus only on the fair, “pretty” ones? We can be charitable to the underemployed neighborhood video guy who has been chartered to cover the marriage function focusing only on those who are naturally gifted to be of wheatish complexion or those who looked pretty in his eyes or those who are attired well!  But even mainstream media when they air entertainment programs or functions, one can see the camera suddenly stopping to capture when it sees a fair skinned person in the audience!

Live coverage of matches
This is obvious when we watch live matches. The cameras in charge of capturing matches live, zoom more on the “attractive” skins and curves in the audience than even the players, bats and the balls! Of course, people love to go in their most attractive attire, sometimes with a passion for rigorous ‘reductivism’ or clothe minimalism. This is fine and nothing wrong in it. But why those cameras have a momentary bias towards the whitish surfaces?

The White Obsession
The skin-color obsession of the world has promoted a multi-billion-dollar cosmetic industry. Media look for fair skinned presenters. Airlines look down upon dark skinned candidates as crew even when they are well natured and qualified. Matrimonial advertisements solicit grooms and brides with fair complexion. My dermatologist wife vouches the frantic attempts of people - young and old - to become fairer by experimenting all latest skin procedures. Professional treatments like peeling, lasers, facials etc. are not bad if that are tried to remove the scars, acne, sun burns, skin tags etc. and not exclusively aimed at whitening the skin.

Whenever I was invited for long TV interviews, I was subjected to a rigorous makeup prior to the program in the in-house beauty parlour at the studio. I felt embarrassed to see myself when the program got aired. I do apply moisturizer or mild cream to cover up dryness or the under eye darkness mostly after a sleep deficit night due to late night work and not because I am ashamed of my natural colour. 

The No-Make up Movement
‘No Makeup’ hash tags are becoming popular these days among some enlightened women who post photos in social media, especially Instagram. Many got inspired by Alicia Keys, an American singer-songwriter and musician, who started the No Make-up movement. She said that she does not want to cover up:  "Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing,".

Alicia Keys

Fathima Lodhi, a Pakistani woman started an anti-colourism movement named “Dark is Divine”. She wrote: “I never got a chance to become a fairy in my school plays because fairies are supposed to be fair-skinned!”

The First Step
Hope our video cameramen of the TV channels and the live matches will take the first step not to focus only on the ‘pretty’ and the fair skinned people in the audience, but zoom on people irrespective of their skin colour or their physical appearances. We would also like to see more of people who are good natured rather than fair and pretty among airhostesses too!

Let us remember the words of Martin Luther King (Jr) that “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

“Good, is a fairer attribute than White,
Tis the mindes beautie keepes the other sweet:
That's not still one, nor mortall with the light,
Nor glasse, nor painting can it counterfet,
Nor doth it raise desires, which euer tend
At once, to their perfection, and their end”

(Sir Thomas Overbury, “A Wife”, Originally written in 1614 –Old English)


© Sibichen K Mathew      Views are personal




"HNY": Take it or Leave it!

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Even if 364 days we were not in touch with someone, we would definitely wish that person around new year. That is the magic of the ‘New Year’, though there is nothing sacrosanct about the date January 1st. There are many cultures in the world where people celebrate new year on dates other than the January 1 fixation of the Gregorian, Roman and Julian calendars. New Year is definitely an occasion to remember all those who were kind and considerate to you in the last one year and earlier years by sending them thoughtful best wishes.

New Year wishing has become easy in an age of WhatsApp. I fondly remember my student days when I exhausted all my pocket money to print customized greetings cards with my own words of wishes and sent to all dear and near ones. Later in life, it was e-Mails.

The Messages
WhatsApp greetings are cheap, instant and amenable to easy copy-paste. We get plenty of messages without specifically addressing us. Nevertheless, we get wished on time by friends. I devote about one hour each for about ten days around the new year to send personal wishes to my near and dear ones, in batches. Perhaps, due to inevitable preoccupations, that might be the only time in a year, I might have re-connected to cherish some valuable interactions of the past.

The trend now is to forward video messages. There will be hundreds of forwarded video messages in our inbox wishing happy new year and to open each of those messages and play the video would eat away too much of our time. So, the best option is to assume that they have forwarded a beautiful new year wish made by someone and then to acknowledge it without ever opening them. Another set of messages come with instructions like “Touch here to see a magic”! As there are many cyber punks during mischiefs with messages that can compromise on the cyber security, many decide not to touch those touchy forwards. I am sure we all prefer original text messages even if it contained only three words - Happy New Year - rather that those sparkling  forwards! Those busy doctorate holders in ‘texting’ will send you “HNY”. You take it or leave it!

The Replies
Most wise people are those who send a reply message to your long, original message (not a forward) by sending just three key words: “Wish you the same”. There are some one-way traffic wishes, which just say “Thank you for the wishes” without ever wanting to reciprocate the wish to you, assuming that the new year is limited only to the place he lives. A few are more frugal with words and reply, “Thanks”.  Some busy people never acknowledge a new year wish since they think that the sender is not privileged to get a reply. Some VVIPs think on those lines.

There are some people who would like to maintain consistency and tradition. They will send the same customized message every year. There are a few who promptly wish you back writing “Wish you a happy birthday”, obviously misled by the auto-complete option.

But, you might have noticed one fact. It is the busy people who are the fastest to respond for a new year wish. It is said that, busy people always have spare time than others!


The Losers and the ‘Fussers’
With all above innovations and idiosyncrasies, New Year time is fun as millions of wishes crisscross the ‘free’ telecom space all over the world. The real losers are the postal departments and the greeting card sellers.  And there are a few conservative innocent beings who still consider that sending them a message instead of wishing them over phone is an insult!

Happy New Year to all once again!

© Sibichen K Mathew      Views are personal.

20181229

The Argumentative Human and the Peace of Mind



Image: Papermasters.com 

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I prefer early morning Eucharist on Sundays. There is less traffic and need not struggle for a parking space. There is no overwhelming acoustics and intimidating high pitched hymns by an enthusiastic choir which make even the celebrant a minor participant (like how the videographers take the control of the couple at the wedding). Those who come for early morning mass are the early risers and that definitely do not include young couples with babies who get restless after a few minutes of initial excitement seeing the lights, swinging of the thurible and the emerging smell of the incense. So, there is less distraction!  Another attraction for those flocking early morning is the sermons that are short (whereas the homilies in the day masses may have disproportionate socio-economic-political-financial ingredients).

I do get a chance to do the ‘Reading’ occasionally as there won’t be too many alter boys competing for it early in the morning. Today, I got the opportunity to read to the congregation and the content was apt as the new year, just a day ahead. St Paul wrote: “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.  Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.  And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”

Yes! Our discussions in the name of politics, religion etc. sometimes go overboard both in social media and during face-to-face chats. We enter into foolish arguments. We also enter into arguments with fools! Both can only lead to avoidable strife. Scriptures of all religions advocate peace and harmony. But, people become communal, ethnocentric and intolerant in the name of God and God-men.  Can 2019 be free of (or have less of) unworthy and unproductive arguments? May be that would be good for our peace, happiness and mental health!

“Your opponent's wrong doesn't automatically make you right. Most fights aren't about who's right; they are contention over degrees of wrongness.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich, ‘Making Wishes’  (Quote from Goodreads)

 © Sibichen K Mathew  (Views are personal)

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