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Have a heart!

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By Dr. B. M. Hegde, India [ Published Date: July 2, 2010 ]

"If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature but by our institutions, great is our sin." - Charles Darwin.
Child’s mind wants everything for itself. It is the law of nature as the child will have to survive up until the time that it develops the adult mind where it can know the difference between good and bad and also its social consciousness and social conscience. Ralph Waldo Emerson rightly pointed out that "the purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, and to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well." Adult mind, on the contrary, should naturally evolve to be altruistic. Adults should take charge of their lives all by themselves and not be dependent on any body. At that mature level they can not, and should not, be greedy like a child which, per force, has to be greedy because it is dependent at that stage in life on others.

When you look at this world most people, especially those in the seats of power, seem to be having retained their child’s mind for greed. They do not seem to be growing up to be compassionate at all. Most of our governments, institutions, business houses, multinational corporations, and even our NGOs seem to be headed by people with child’s greed still active in them without having grown out of it for common good. While the world claims to be altruistic the truth is otherwise. Even our scholars seem to be cheating the world. Let us analyse this wonderful laboratory study of human behaviour which got two people the Nobel for economics in 2002-Vernon Smith and David Kahnman. They did an experiment, Dictator Experiment, under direct observation by giving $20 for a pair of bidders at the Stock market in Chicago to be exchanged between them, as they wished. They could donate up to $18 to the partner but not all the $20. They could share the winning amount, if any, also on similar lines. They could also not share any money and play. At the end of the experiment the results were consistent in that every single player had shared his money as also his booty altruistically without cheating.

Lo and behold, the Swedish Academy liked this experiment and the authors of the study got their Nobel in 2002. John List was also a professor in the same department. He came from a different pedigree compared to his Nobel colleagues. His own experience of the world as a young man, while struggling to maintain himself at the college by driving his father’s truck during weekends to keep his pot boiling was anything but pleasant. He was so bitter about the loaders who never helped him even under severe conditions. John repeated the same "Dictator Experiments" without telling the partners that he was observing them all the while as they played as happens in real life situations. This was the only deviation from the Nobel winning work of his colleagues. John’s work opened the eyes of the world to reality. Every single partner cheated his friend both in sharing the playing money as also the booty after winning! John wrote a paper that human kind is NOT hardwired to be altruistic. Every one grows up to be greedy. They are homo economicus but not homo altruisticus! Truth does not attract the Nobel Prize and John’s study did not get the recognition that it richly deserved as it debunked the false data of the Nobel winning study of his colleagues.

India has one third of the world’s poor people as its citizens. While we pride ourselves in claiming that we are a growing young economy with the government claiming double digit growth rate figures. We also have the largest number of billionaires in the world. Billions of dollars are being spent in the name of "sports" like the IPL where every actor in the drama is so greedy that tons of money are being misappropriated daily, if the dirty linen being washed in the greedy TV channels is anything to go by. God only knows the truth. Our entrepreneurs, the rich ones at that, claim to be doing lots of charity. Despite all that in the last six years since 2004, what with the entire fan fare of stock market growth etc., India has added a good one hundred million more poor people below the poverty line to its population! We also have the biggest load of malnourished children in the world of 67 million in all, dying at the rate of a few thousands daily. Even the whole of Sub Saharan Africa does not have that number!

Nutritional Immune Deficiency Syndrome (NIFDS), a deadlier cousin of AIDS, kills our malnourished children daily. Even those poor children who do not die at that stage do not, and can not, live long, as they inherit very small organs when they were made in their mother’s womb, thanks to mother’s malnutrition during the first trimester of pregnancy. This is the curse of pre-natal diseases due solely to malnutrition among our pregnant ladies in the poorer segment of the population. Since these children have very small hippocampus major as well, the portion of the brain that helps memory, creativity, learning ability etc, they, with even 100% special reservation at school can not make it beyond primary school, at best. The poor pay for their poverty with their lives. A nation of grown up adults should not tolerate this inequality but, as shown above, we are not grown up adults. We are children in adult bodies with our myopic vision of earning wealth and displaying that in very vulgar ways like partying every night of the IPL games spending millions to feed those that need to cut their food intake to remain healthy.

If only we grow up as a nation of adults who have grown out of their childhood natural greed into adulthood altruism, we could bring up the status of our poor in no time without extra efforts. India can afford much more for its poor if only we could get all the black money stacked away by the powerful-muscle, money or political power. Is someone listening? Now I shall show you reasons why it is good for all of us to grow out of our childhood greed. For a child greed is physiological and for an adult greed, jealousy, anger and pride with ego are pathologic. As a doctor I shall give you some tips about health and wellness. Latest definition of health is "enthusiasm to work and enthusiasm to be compassionate." Anything away from these two human qualities will drive human kind towards diseases. It is, therefore, in our own interest to be altruistic to be healthy and well as long as we live. Diseases are not accidents from outside. They grow within us, many a time due to our won faults. Mike Adams,  a health researcher in the US, has this to say about our consumer society which lives on share markets etc forgetting those that are dying for want of food and shelter.

He writes: "…..most of the mainstream population operates from the child mindset. They are consumers, begging to be distracted, injected, entertained, medicated and told how to live, think and feel (and vote). The idea of stepping outside this preprogrammed existence and exploring the world from an adult mindset is downright frightening to these people. Being a child is so much easier, isn't it? If you're just a child, you can't be blamed for bad results.

Most people, no matter what their age, have still not achieved self-responsibility.  My greatest wish is that our population of humans on our planet will grow up and embrace adulthood. Only through educated, responsible decisions that consider the long-term consequences of our immediate actions can individuals -- or humanity -- hope to evolve into a sustainable species. If we cannot attain the level of adulthood to take care of our own bodies, how on earth can we expect to achieve the level of consciousness necessary to function as stewards for the only habitable planet we know of in our entire universe? Humanity remains in its infancy.  The childish concepts of selfish thinking and "that's MINE!" are the lifeblood of our world's largest corporations which seek to own everything they touch, much like little children licking all the cookies to claim them as personal property.

Corporations, for the most part, are immature expressions of economic selfishness that cater to immature consumers who have not yet decided to embrace adult-class self responsibility. The entire free market, in fact, is driven primarily by childish selfish greed rather than ideas of compassion for fellow human beings or business models based on determined sustainability rather than consumption gullibility. Even most of the non-profits, which are supposed to be based on compassion, have turned into childish, greed-driven money expansion machines that only seek to rake in more profits at any cost to society. Nowhere is this more evident than in the cancer industry, where both the American Cancer Society and Komen for the Cure have become financial juggernauts by promising cures for cancer but delivering nothing but more disease to the people. (Mammograms cause cancer, for example.)"

Richard Skellington, a journalist from the UK, writing about poverty in the world has this to say:

"As Governments worldwide commit billions upon billions of currency to save the banks and our national and international financial systems, spare a thought today for the humble poor. Last week Prime Minister Gordon Brown committed £500 billion to save our struggling banking sector from its own greed and avarice. Of course you could argue that if the international financial system collapses, the poor will be poorer, and there will be far more of them, but it is strange how governments - when pushed by uncontrollable forces which threaten their future - are spurred into desperate action.  Our world leaders have shown far greater alacrity in resolving the banking crisis than they did during the Making Poverty History   campaign this time last year. Will the poor, as the Bible remarked, "always be with us?"

One has to work hard to become altruistic for his/her own good. Altruism is health and greed is disease. Indian systems of yoga and praanaayamaa help human kind to become more altruistic for the good of society as also for our own good. Hope mankind, especially those in power see the writing on the wall before it is too late. Have a heart!

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SHENOY R, India :
Being a child is so much easier, isn't it? If you're just a child, you can't be blamed for bad results.
-Prof Hegde wonders

I don't think so. The child is quite helpless. It is potentially abused by every one around.One has to see movies like Salaam Bombay and Slum Dofg Millionaire to realise how children live in the poverty stricken areas like Dhaaraavi.The song 'Shivappa kaayo thanday' recited by every beggar and childrten alike still rings in my ears at times. It pains me to see such misery existing side by side where the rich play. I have watched from the windows of one of the 5 star hotels in Mumbai and was shocked to see some rough scenes of Mumbai.If you have seen the movie 'Deewaar' starring Amitabh Bachchan, you would remember the scene where Amitabh is shown looking out of the windowm. The place is Oberoi Sheraton hotel. Iftikhar is offereing him a deal to join him. 'Kya dekh rahe ho' he asks Amitabh. 'Dekh raha hoon, ek majboor aurat aur do masoom bachche. Daawar saab mujhe aap ka sauda manzoor hai'. [They show Nirupa Roy holding the hands of master Alankar and master Raju and walking on the foot path of marine drive]

It takes lot of determination, courage and grit to overcome the challenges of poverty and rise above that.Only people of character can do it.I know a medical student in Bangalore who used to work in Kamat hotel as a cook for 3 years before joining the medical college. He went on to become a good doctor.He used to tell about how some dishes were made. I used to wonder how he had that knowledge. He smiled and told me that he had worked as a cook after SSLC to support his family. Later he came back and did PUC, got very good marks. He had no reservation. He was a Shivalli Brahmin. Those who show hatred to Brahmins will be able to see another aspect of Brahmins here. ie: grit and determination to over come adverse situations and emerge as winners.

May every child enjoy its child hood which comes but once. May every child reach its fullest potential and spread happiness around him/her.Long live the child in all of us. [Except the greed as pointed out by Prof Hegde]
Shridhar, Oman:
Very well written article sir.. for me these 2 quotes from the article explains all...

"Since these children have very small hippocampus major as well, the portion of the brain that helps memory, creativity, learning ability etc, they, with even 100% special reservation at school can not make it beyond primary school, at best."

"We are children in adult bodies with our myopic vision of earning wealth and displaying that in very vulgar ways like partying every night of the IPL games spending millions to feed those that need to cut their food intake to remain healthy."

Rich elites think it is their birth right to spend the money on whatever luxuries they want in their life and whoever objecting to it are just jealous of their wealth.

But they forget to understand that in the process of earning so much wealth, they have pushed millions of people into poverty.

The Govt's world over are more concerned about health of big corporation's rather than health of a poor man...
A.S.Mathew, USA :
So good to read another article from your mighty pen.

"Selfishness is the greatest curse of the human race" William E. Gladstone.

"Self-preservation is the first law of the nature, but self-sacrifice is the highest rule of grace" Anonymous.

"You cannot be your brother's keeper if you are caged by selfishness" Anonymous.

"ME" is always at the bottom of all sin. One little word M.E.. It may spell drink, lust, pride, covetousness, self-will; but it is
some form of "me". Anonymouse.

Yes, we are faced with the international crisis of "financiala meltdown" by acting like children with all the "self" in us; and we all have learned a great lesson of life. Swami Vivekanda said "serving man is serving God". Jesus said "whatever you have done to the least of my brethren, have all done to me".

Whatever religion in which we believe, if we an iota of divinity is us, then we must show compassion to the needy, especially the helpless people we see every day in front us. Dr. Hegde, may God richly bless you for bringing such a spiritually inclined article.
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