Realm Of Randomness

November 10, 2006

Lets play a Game

Filed under: Introspection,Philosophy — Randomizer @ 5:51 pm

[ This post is predominantly meant to be interactive so I’m hoping all of you who read this will write a comment before you leave ]

The motivation behind this post was reading this article here in the news : Click here. Al-Qaeda quotes 12,000 operatives have been mobilized in Iraq.

Whenever I hear the name of this network, my mind maps to a fanatical group of Suicide Bombers. The first time I ever heard of the term ‘Suicide bomber’ was about 15 years ago, when our nation’s prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by an LTTE operative who blew the place up during a ceremony where he was being offered Garlands in his honour. That was over a decade ago and I was little then, but I remember having thought in my mind ‘Who could possibly hate someone so much that they didn’t mind dying to kill the other person?’

Today, the term ‘Suicide bomber’ is heard so often that one forgets how deeply intriguing and confusing this whole concept is. Someone is *actually* ready to give up his/her own LIFE – the most precious thing any living being on this planet has got – for the sake of a cause or an ideology.

Can you imagine ever having such a cause or Ideology in your life that you are ready to die for ? Your cause could be Absolutely Anything. I don’t mean just Religion, Idea, etc – Your cause could be as noble as ‘Ending poverty’, or it could be as personal as curing your loved one’s illness, it could even be something fictional like bringing someone back to life(?) , it could be, like I said, Absolutely Anything.

I don’t expect the average reader here to be a fanatic, so I know that you couldn’t possibly have a cause you are ready to die for. Let us make this a fair game by reducing the penalty.

At the risk of sounding like the antagonist from the SAW movies, I have to say, ‘Lets play a Game’. Here’s the catch – Your cause, anything you want – But, you get to keep only 4 out of 5 senses. One of sight, hearing, smell, touch, or taste has got to go. Think about this for a while …
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*Now* do you have a cause or reason so great in your life that you are ready to give up one of these ? If you did, head over to the comments section. If not, keep reading.

Lets reduce the penalty even more: No bodily harm at all…. Here’s the deal -> you spend 5 years in prison for this cause.
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Do I see some of you thinking for more than 5 seconds on that one? I sure do hope so !

If you’ve come up with something, head over to the comments section. Otherwise, I’ll lower the bar even further -> You lose your memory and hence your identity – but no physical harm, and no prison. I expect the extra smart ones to say, hey if I lose my memory, i can get my Cause *and* I don’t remember anything so I should be happy – but think some more about Losing your identity.
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Still want me to lower the bar ? You lose ALL your belongings/possessions … everything you have ever earned or owned – including your college degree- will be gone. But I’m guessing you can always get these material posessions back – It’s just the temporary inconvenience.
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Still not ready to part ways with your stuff ?

This is the lowest I’m willing to lower the bar – You lose ALL you money, and your source of income too – your job. But you keep your degree, your belongings, everything else.

Ok I expect most of you to break at this point for *some* cause or the other. But it wouldn’t surprise me if people haven’t broken at all .. the last question was pretty hard to say ‘yes’ to too, wasn’t it ? I would like to study how priorities are in peoples’ lives ….

I expect most people to break over a personal cause rather than a noble one.

But do people with noble ideas still exist ? Forget about our own lives, are we noble enough to give up our possessions for a greater good like curing the world of AIDS? Most of you might blindly say ‘yes’ to that question but you’re not thinking enough – With a sway of my magic wand, you will LOSE your money, your laptop, your home, your car – everything!

Isn’t it surprising(and terribly sad) that your own money/belongings has almost an equal weight as millions of people dying of AIDS?

[ As a digressory discussion – do all soldiers/army men believe in something that we don’t ? ]

And looking at how hard it was for you to come up with a cause that was more important to you than your own well-being and convenience, do you share my confusion in what possible cause there could possibly be that would make a good share of 12,000 adult human beings decide to give their lives for the sake of taking others’ ?

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29 Comments »

  1. Ok let me get this game started!<br/><br/>Since my family suffers from no illness and I haven’t lost anyone dear so far (touchwood), it seems to be easy for me to make a near-noble decision. <br/><br/>Right?<br/><br/>Actually, I’m still hesitating giving up my college degree on the last but one, and my job on the last one. <br/><br/>The closest I can probably get is – all my belongings gone – but I keep my job, my degree … for a Cause – maybe an end to Poverty & Hunger. <br/><br/>This is not impressive at all :(

    Comment by Randomizer — November 11, 2006 @ 5:15 pm | Reply

  2. Randomizer, great one, will return with a detailed post on this – for now ..cant resist putting this up – <br/><br/>http://hindustantimes.com/news/181_1841404,000900010002.htm

    Comment by Sharath Rao — November 12, 2006 @ 3:16 am | Reply

  3. >>>>[ As a digressory discussion – do all soldiers/army men believe in something that we don’t ? ]<<<<<br/>==> watch “Flags of our fathers”<br/>It was surprisingly not a patriotic movie.

    Comment by eyw — November 12, 2006 @ 4:59 am | Reply

  4. Interesting questions..<br/><br/>Let’s face it. If my answer was “I’d give away all my possessions/wealth if it could eliminate AIDS world over”, then chances are that I would donate atleast, say, $20 towards the AIDS-treatment research today… but have I?<br/><br/>Your game is hard to play, because the process of answering your question forces me to change. It forces me to think. And that’s exactly what we avoid doing. We turn the blind eye. <br/><br/>Which is why I won’t answer you question :)<br/><br/>Meanwhile, I’ve become cynical about things. What is poverty? If everyone in the world had personal jets, and you were the only one forced to drive a car everyday, would you call yourself poor? Same thing with Hunger. Besides, I think it’s okay that I’m hungry at 5pm every day. Curing AIDS.. Is death bad? If nobody ever died, we’d have a situation on our hands. Maybe the human species doesn’t deserver to exist any more. We’re fcking up the ecosystem anyways. Earth needs to get rid of us.<br/><br/>In short, if I’m thinking about giving away all my possessions, I’m going to question the very worth of the ‘noble cause’ and not do anything about it. :)<br/><br/>Following the same cynical view, though, my possessions and even my life – it’s not worth much in the big picture.<br/><br/>Before I go away, i DO get your point about the suicide bombers, very well put! bravo! :)

    Comment by eyw — November 12, 2006 @ 5:26 am | Reply

  5. Came here from Sharath’s blog. Sorry but I cannot help notice two things about the game.
    One is that the second thing from the top, going to jail for 5 years should actually come towards the last. Ample number of poeple shose just that during the freedom struggle and that number would be much larger than 12k.
    Second thins to note is that you are offering me too much in return or may be I got you wrong. When we give up something for a cause in real life, there is no gaurentee that anything at all will happen. If there is a gaurentee, the decision becomes much easier. And that is I think is also the answer to the 12k AQ terrorists. They and all other suicide bombers believe one or both of following two:
    1. There *is* no other way out. Same as suicide.
    2. Their doing it *will* make a difference.

    Comment by abhaya — November 12, 2006 @ 6:32 am | Reply

  6. Wow, lots of comments! <br/><br/>@Sharath – Thanks for the link from your blog. Am awaiting your detailed post<br/><br/>@Erwin – I expected this post to turn up topics like patriotism, terrorism, generosity and selflessness but giving death and poverty an evolutionary perspective was something only expected from those like you :). You need to get a blog ! <br/><br/>You are right – By creating AIDS, nature is giving us a hard time procreating! Maybe the human race *is* supposed to die.<br/><br/>About your point of ‘your belongings/possessions don’t make much of a difference in the big picture’ , THAT was the game! I asked you to Assume that you could get rid of All the poverty/disease in the world in exchange for your belongings … which means that you DO make an enormous difference … would you do it ? <br/><br/>If you’d like to question the noble ideas I’d put up, you are free to bring forth ANY possible cause. Just tell me what the cause is, and to what extent you can sacrifice something for it. <br/><br/>@Abhaya – Thanks for stopping by!<br/><br/>I am aware of thousands of people who chose prison for a cause – but unfortunately, they are not the ones playing the game. YOU are. :) <br/><br/>Would you go to prison for a Cause? If so, what could this Cause be – Imagine that if you went to prison for 5 years, India would become the most rich/powerful nation in the world. Would you go to prison for it? If not, name any Cause – and tell me how much you are willing to sacrifice. <br/><br/>I agree with your last two points

    Comment by Randomizer — November 12, 2006 @ 6:48 am | Reply

  7. There <br/><br/>http://sharathrao.blogspot.com/2006/11/human-sacrifice.html

    Comment by Sharath Rao — November 12, 2006 @ 6:47 pm | Reply

  8. Hi, Got the link to this post via Sharath, very thought provoking!!!<br/><br/>I wouldn’t die for a cause, because I believe life is precious and I don’t like to encourage suicidal tendencies of any sort..<br/><br/>Would I die to save a loved one??… Maybe, that would be the only instance I would consider this option ..Die to save a hundred dying people ?? ( maybe if it unequivocally resulted in their survival)<br/>Would I die for my Country , Religion ,State or Planet?? <br/><br/>…A resounding NO!! I believe all these disputes are politically motivated and everyone’s life is more precious than giving in to the whims of manipulative powerful people.. it’s the same as the case of the Indian soldier who died in Iraq fighting for the US army ..He only recently migrated to the States… and was brought up in India ..God Bless his Soul, but it wasn’t his war to die fighting … Maybe in an Armageddon situation, a war against planets, I would consider joining an army. The job of the United Nations and Peaceniks like me is to ensure that no world wars occur.. the world is no longer as isolated and countries and people aren’t as disconnected as they once were..<br/><br/>I would however risk my all my money ,incur the wrath of my friends , possibly switch careers to stick to my personal beliefs i.e. : open mindedness, the war against bigots , individualism, family ties and self respect .<br/>I would also contribute as much as I could to the elimination of poverty.<br/>This is starting to look like a letter :)<br/>Regards,<br/>N

    Comment by aquarianalien — November 12, 2006 @ 8:58 pm | Reply

  9. @Sharath – <br/><br/>Whew, long post there ! Will copy this comment to your blog too. <br/><br/>Firstly – You played the game more or less exactly how I intended it. By equating your loss of belongings to the cure of AIDS all across the world, I expected that *only you* would know that this happened, i.e. you couldn’t become an instant celebrity and get rich quick again! ( now that would just be cheating! :) ) . <br/><br/>I am happy that your satisfaction in knowing you were the reason for this cure, would be good enough for you to give up all your belongings ( job/degree too? or only your stuff? ). <br/><br/>You make an interesting point about Animals vs Human beings, which I was sure this topic would reach eventually. The drive to attain ‘Group goals’ in human beings is much much lesser than say ant colonies and other insects. We are too individualistic and this is easily apparent by each person’s lack of willingness to give up even his material possessions to cure the entire world of AIDs. <br/><br/>I agree that suicide bombers are selfish too – they believe they will have a great after-life! And yes, I am glad too that I wasn’t born and raised in a family that harbored such fanatical beliefs. <br/><br/>At the end of this discussion, there are two major points that should leave a lasting impression: <br/><br/>* One is that even if we had the power to cure the entire world of something humongous, the priority for the small things we own would get the better of us and we wouldn’t do it ! That is just sad. An introspection at our compassion would be a good idea at this point.<br/><br/>* Suicide bombers are a product of circumstances – Religion, helplessness , hatred, and a Hope for a better life. Christianity and Islam are both equally guilty of harboring beliefs in their followers that your current life may not be as important as your After-life. <br/><br/>An interesting thought – If these religions didn’t have the concept of After-life , would we have seen a lot lesser number of bombers ?

    Comment by Randomizer — November 13, 2006 @ 1:14 am | Reply

  10. @Natasha -<br/><br/>Thanks for your comment, as well as a link to this post from your blog!<br/><br/>You are the first one to give me an expected answer – That you would die for a loved one. I expect many more people to have your answer. <br/><br/>I’m not sure if you thought your answer through when you said you might die to save a 100 people… really ? [ I’m assuming these 100 ppl don’t include your loved ones ]. If you still stand by your answer, I think you are one of a kind. I wouldn’t die to save a million strangers , quite frankly … (!) Life is all I’ve got. <br/><br/>The only non-personal goal you mentioned is helping eradicate poverty. Now that you mentioned this, you have to play the game ! <br/><br/>- If I told you that you could eradicate the world’s poverty in an instant, but you had to sacrifice something (one of the things mentioned in the game) what would it be?

    Comment by Randomizer — November 13, 2006 @ 1:34 am | Reply

  11. @Sharath and Abhay – <br/><br/>I’m assuming you guys have watched enough prison movies to know of the dangers/crimes that you could be a victim of in prison for 5 years! <br/><br/>Still think that’s better than a loss of memory ? ;)

    Comment by Randomizer — November 13, 2006 @ 1:37 am | Reply

  12. Randomizer challenges you to think, about yourself, your priorities and their place in the world, about how important a personal cause is to you relative to a larger cause and what you would give up to see that accomplished. You may want to visit the post before you continue.<br/><br/>I will play the game unconditionally and later add caveats that will render meaningless everything I write .<br/><br/>On first thoughts, this actually sounds like a reasonable deal.<br/><br/>Forget about our own lives, are we noble enough to give up our possessions for a greater good like curing the world of AIDS? Most of you might blindly say ‘yes’ to that question but you’re not thinking enough – With a sway of my magic wand, you will LOSE your money, your laptop, your home, your car – everything!<br/><br/>Or maybe I am assuming that I am indeed told and so is the world that my sacrifice has lead to the cure, which is actually quite ridiculous. So lets say I dont assume that. Even then, that is not a bad deal at all. Lets assume that only I know this little secret and I am never to disclose this or that I am psychologically mutated to disable that ‘feature’ in me. Even then, can you imagine the morale booster I would have to know that my sacrifice brought this about even if none else knew it ! With that kind of an ‘achievement’ I may end up with a well-being/morale than I currently enjoy !! But maybe I am still making the wrong assumption. But if I weren’t to ever know that there is a causal relationship between the disappearance of my possessions and the cure for AIDS, then lets see what happens. Imagine, I accept the deal and the moment I do it, AIDS has disappeared and so have my possessions and so has my memory of my contribution to it. Would I do it then? Yes, I would because it makes no difference – if I didn’t know about my prior middle class status, I would be just another poor guy who is going to work his way up and if I did know about my prior status, then the above in bold would apply.<br/><br/>So now that I have played the game fairly, let me write my thoughts on the idea behind the game. This game is so open-ended and to be fair to Aswin, he would have had to write a 2000 word post to make the rules of the game unambiguous. So while there are so many reservations I have about the way the game is structured, I get the essence of it, I have played it in the spirit and there is no nitpicking here. [ Except that I would rather go to prison for 5 years than lose my memory !].<br/><br/>So at this point I am diverting from Aswin’s content/packaging while using the spirit of his post as a chance to make a few points.<br/><br/>1.<br/><br/>One of those things that differentiates mankind from the animal kingdom is how extraordinarily<br/>co-operative our species is on how large a scale. The other difference between animals and man is what we are ready to kill for. Animals kill each other for food and/or self-defense. We kill each other, among other things, for the sake of ideology and the determination and enthusiasm to do so is most intense if it were a religious ideology.<br/><br/>2.<br/><br/>I admit that when we compare soldiers who fight for their country and those fighting for their religion, we may at times be on a slippery slope. Before you flame, I am talking about the fundamental philosophical difference and NOT about the means such as the attack on civilians in crowded market places etc. As Sidin asks in this post :<br/><br/> Is there, at a very basic level, any difference between a religious zealot who is prepared to kill and die for his religion and a member of the armed forces? Both have picked up causes they were born into with little choice. (You normally don’t choose your country and also accept the religion you were born into. Both with little question.) Both possibly consider their respective causes essential to their safe existence. (And in several places in this country people of a religion stay together because the law simply cannot protect them.) They follow orders blindly even if they know they are protecting or fighting for a country/religion which may be committing moral/humanitarian evils. (Nazi soldiers for instance. But one must still obey if one is a soldier.) So then why is one portrayed so heroically while the other is a heinous criminal?<br/><br/>3.<br/><br/>Thirdly, in my opinion, sacrifice as a virtue is misunderstood at best or overrated at worst. In several and most cases, people make sacrifices only if there is a potential for future payoff. ( Read on before you quit and leave me a misunderstood man. ) Ofcourse, the worst thing to do is to assume that this payoff is monetary – which in most cases is anything but. When things are not reciprocal, they are perhaps philanthrophic in nature. Even in such a case, nobody indulges in giving things away if they dont see a benefit in it, even if it comes in terms of ‘mere’ satisfaction. Nobody ever does something so that they can feel miserable about it. And this is true even of religion. People are ready to blow themselves up because that is what they believe is a sureshot way to go to heaven or prepare for a better after-life. In very crude terms, its a deal they strike with the God they believe will reward them in future. And few things apart from religion have this power over man. [ And am I glad nothing has such a power over me ! ]. So while we may think they are being idiots, they are doing something that is entirely in tune with basic human tenets – they are not sacrificing their life, infact its an extremely selfish act according to their world-view.<br/>So if everyone is selfish then what is commendable, what is virtuous and what differentiates people. The virtue comes into play when people decide the range of things or actions that indeed give them non-reciprocal benefits. Monetary contributions to a charity is an example. It also comes from aligning some of your goals some of the time with that of others and working to achieve both. Like for example seeing a non-equivalence between working 18 hours a day with no time for family versus seeing time spent with family as an investment in your kids’ future, your spouse’s present/future and duties that come with being a committed family man and your own well-being that is interlinked to that of your family and vice-versa [ known as kin selection in evolution terms].<br/><br/>Baring exceptional cases therefore, selfishness and sacrifice/selflessness should themselves not be prejudiced and must be seen in context. As the quote that goes :<br/><br/> If I am not for myself, who will be? If I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?<br/><br/>When my friend Sadiq asked me the other day what I thought was the purpose of life, I said that there is a purpose that we build for ourselves and to me, its to be happy, on average. (In a psychopathic case, my happiness may entirely come from say yours ! ). I know its not interesting, but lets say its definitely not submission to a certain being/being one with a certain entity/going to a certain place where x number of virigins await me.

    Comment by Sharath Rao — November 13, 2006 @ 2:40 am | Reply

  13. But why in the world would that require 5 years ? 5 hours sounds more like it. :p

    Jokes apart, yeah. Considering the possibility of prison rapes, I agree. That aspect didnt really occur to me.

    Comment by Sharath Rao — November 13, 2006 @ 2:42 am | Reply

  14. Ok, from personal experience I donate a small portion of my income to charity when a chance arises…However ,I haven’t donated all my income ,and I don’t intend to major in social service . To contribute to the game; I would be willing to bear the temporary inconvenience of losing all my material possessions to eradicate poverty ….

    As for dying to save the lives of a 100 people ..I would do that, my family and friends would miss me, and I them , but I also believe in an afterlife…so that influences my decision…

    Remember I speak only for myself , if the decision was to save a hundred other people from a speeding train by diverting the tracks and killing just one person( not me !!) ..I don’t think that’s a decision that would be up to me to make.

    Comment by aquarianalien — November 13, 2006 @ 2:53 am | Reply

  15. an off topic -but the Prison comments reminded me of the ‘Let’s go to Prison’ promos…

    Comment by aquarianalien — November 13, 2006 @ 2:56 am | Reply

  16. Let’s see. I’m not altruistic at all, so I’m not entirely sure that I would do *anything* for the betterment of mankind or the “greater good”, let alone sacrifice one of my senses or my identity or.. do time.<br/><br/>So, am I without passion if I cannot find a cause that is dear enough to give up my life or at the least an important part of my life? I don’t think so. It does make me an egotist, though. So be it. <br/><br/>At this point, I’m probably not even eligible to play this game by virtue of not believing in the cause and “sacrifice”. But this is an interesting post and I’ve put forth an extreme point of view.<br/><br/>At the risk of sounding cynical, if it were not AIDS today it would be something else. I agree with Erwin. We’d do more harm living than dead.<br/><br/>Yea, soldiers and army men do believe something that we don’t. They’re patriots and patriotism is something that I have not yet grasped fully. Maybe someday I will. I know people who have given up a great life in the US to return to India so they could pursue philanthropy. At this point I’m not sure I’m one of them or ever will be.<br/><br/>As for suicide bombing, quoting Pierre Rehov it’s “neurosis at the level of an entire civilization”. Imagine young impressionable fellas brainwashed and fed on religion, their only “heroes” being “martyrs” who’ve given up their life supposedly to destroy the impure without so much as a thought to the death of innocents.<br/><br/>I’m not sure if this was the correct response to your game, but it’s a point of view I guess.

    Comment by Raksha — November 13, 2006 @ 5:54 am | Reply

  17. Can I say I’m willing to give up my life for the sake of my immortality?  :)<br/>Okay, jokes aside, let me play this game in all fairness too. <br/><br/>To be brutally honest, I really don’t know what I’d do when it comes to my loved ones. I’d like to think I’m willing to lay down my life for their sake but I would not know until such a situation arises, God forbid!<br/><br/>As far as a ‘noble cause’ goes…I’m certainly not willing to give up my life for it. Neither am I willing to give up my mind – for what am I without my mind?! I think losing my mind is only slightly better than dying!<br/><br/>However, I am willing to give up all my possessions – my house, car, phone, ipod, degree certificate, honors&awards, whatever.. for my cause. I wouldn’t care if no one knows the ‘sacrifices’ I’ve made for this world. That doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that I know, and that I get satisfaction out of it. That is another reason why I won’t give up my mind. <br/><br/>What is my cause? To remove terrorism in this world. In my opinion, nothing gives a man the right to take other peoples lives, without giving them the opportunity to defend themselves. I’m not advocating world peace here. I’m not that naïve. What I’m saying is if there is a cause these people(terrorists) are willing to die for the they must at least have the courage to fight it out in the open, wage wars. Instead to go around killing civilians and call it collateral damage is plain cowardice. <br/><br/>Now let me make it very clear- I’m not altruistic. Even though I have a cause, I’m not giving up things in return for nothing. I want that satisfaction, that knowledge that I’ve made a difference. In the same sense, I believe everyone who has a cause is looking for something I return. So the question is what do these ‘suicide bombers’ want in return? Someone above said salvation in afterlife. I must admit I had ever thought about this until now but I guess that a valid answer. Another answer I think is, these people don’t really comprehend the meaning of what they are about to do. They are fed stories of their ‘glorious’ predecessors and their activities. They watch men being worshipped because of their acts. For the first time in their drab lives, they see a chance to be heroes. Every boy wants to be a hero. It’s their moment of fame. As simple as that. (If you haven’t already watched it, please watch this movie called Syriana (sp?) )<br/><br/>Can there be no end to this? I believe that most other things in this world like hunger, poverty, development can be solved with two things – awareness and access. Every man on this planet can fend for himself and make a living. It’s a survival instinct. So all he needs is awareness of the possibilities and easy access to the basic things he needs to make those possibilities come true. By access, I mean a non-interfering government too, but that deserves another post. With terrorism too, awareness and access is important. But I think these two alone are not enough in this case. Maybe because, religion is involved. And that’s why this is my cause today.<br/><br/>Good Post, Randomizer. And some lovely points of view too.

    Comment by Aegle — November 13, 2006 @ 7:02 am | Reply

  18. I wouldn’t give up anything that’s mine, for the betterment of mankind… unless I’m going to be benefitted out of it, in this life of mine. Assuming I am already guaranteed about the well-being and security of my loved ones, let’s see if I can come up with an altruistic answer : what will I sacrifice, for what cause….?? hmm…. well… I will choose to loose all of my money and my job, if the sacrifice will make all people good and also rid me and my loved ones of our laziness (I’ll tell u soon why this second demand)… ‘good’ is a wonderful term… because that way, there will not be hatred, corruption, destructiveness, jealousy, unreasonable illogical domination, cheating, sloppiness and all of the other bad… that makes us complain about this world always…. that way, I guess, all the ills like terrorism, injustice are all eradicated. In a fair and just world, people can always make use of their skills and come up in life… then ills like poverty will also be removed, as people are good and they will look at other people as their equals and not look down at them… n be willing to help them until they can take care of themselves… when we remove corruption and hatred alone, mankind is far better than it is now… all of the taxpayers’s money will definitely reach where the government says it will reach… when there is only good, there will be a lot of fair competition that will add to the good… and that’s why I want to be rid of my laziness… (If bad includes laziness too, then I should be able to work extra hard to regain lost ground) so I can work hard, and catch up with the rest of the world… I don’t want to be lost, after making a proper sacrifice u see.. :).. i would definitely like to enjoy the world that was made better by my so-called sacrifice.. that’s how selfish I am!! maybe because that’s me.. or.. maybe because I can’t really imagine such a world… I don’t know if its right either…. its kind of a little scary because its like… quoting from some novel “all major changes are like death.. u never know what is on the other side, until you really get there”

    P.S. : I first found ur blog through the link on Raksha’s… I’m an almost regular reader.. u’ve got a nice blog..

    Comment by Meenakshi Pavithra — November 13, 2006 @ 1:57 pm | Reply

  19. You know, you caught me on this one. I honestly could not answer to any of those until you started to bring down the bar.

    Frankly, I am a pretty selfish person, and I believe most of them are at some level. We are all wired that way, else we would not have survived the evolution and the eco-system.

    It is only after our basic drives are satisfied, that we look out for other levels of satisfaction and noble ideas.

    But that said, I think I would be ready to loose my hearing sense if I were able to know what all the universe is about. Where the existence will lead us all. Yup, I am one stingy bugger, and that is how much I would be ready to loose for a something that can have profound implications on humanity if I were to know the ‘Answer of Everything’ and tell them about it. The choice of which sense I was ready to loose was hard for me. I am an artist (though a rookie) and I cannot bear the thought of loosing my sight. I have quite a bit of culinary habits in spite of me being a vegetarian. Touch is something very basic and primal – I believe this was one of the first sense to be developed during evolution – and I cannot part with that. Ah Sound – that was like choosing the lesser of the evils, but I think I could live by not being able to hear any music for the rest of my life if in return I would get to know all about the existence and beyond and tell about it to others.

    Oh yeah. I am quite a stingy fella. ;)

    Comment by Mahesh Bhat — November 13, 2006 @ 4:25 pm | Reply

  20. @Raksh – Am sure there are plenty of people, myself included to some extent, who wouldn’t like to do anything for the cause of mankind. Being selfish and doing the best one can for his/her own good is the primal law we all have imbibed in our deepest selves right from birth – the ‘Survival of the fittest’. <br/><br/>We were born with that nature and it is no surprise that we live by that nature too. If our survival depends on the survival of the group as a whole, only *then* would we consider group goals before our own. Otherwise, it is every man for himself. <br/><br/>No one is being judged here, this is just a survey – so whether you do or don’t lack passion can and will only be answered by you. <br/><br/>As for patriotism, I understand it’s benefits – countries will never grow without a unifying factor. Patriotism is that which holds the group together. But if Patriotism is going to make you go against another group and kill those from another group, uniformed or not, that is where I would draw the line. <br/><br/>I would let patriotism interfere with my personal growth only to the extent where it does me some good. If going back to India after living a prosperous life in the US would help me grow , I would go back too – but not because I was born there and am a patriot. Because I want it. <br/><br/>Many people who go back to India do it for selfish reasons and not patriotism – Either they’d get a better position in their career, they’d be with their relatives again, they’d be at home again … and so on. <br/><br/>All I’m trying to say here is that (like Sharath says in his post) I don’t believe anyone would leave the US to purposely leave a miserable life for the cause of others. <br/><br/>Selfish though you may be, you are definitely not alone.

    Comment by Randomizer — November 13, 2006 @ 10:02 pm | Reply

  21. @Madhu – I’m impressed that you are ready to give up your degree especailly and belongings for the Cause of stopping Terrorism. That is a great cause and also a pretty huge sacrifice you are willing to make!<br/><br/>You say you aren’t an altruist … and you are being selfish in the fact that doing this would give you satisfaction in return. I don’t think I would be wrong if I said that doing selfless service for the cause of others would NEVER cause an Altruist to be Unhappy -> In other words, Every Altruist is an Altruist because he gains satisfaction by doing things for others.<br/><br/>And if stopping terrorism at the cost of your stuff and degree would give you satisfaction – I’d pretty much call you an altruist!<br/><br/>You and Raksh are right all the way about the reasons for terrorism – especially the martyrs and heroes that every boy wants to become. Given a helping of hate and personal tragedy in a time of war would bring anyone to the point where he has Nothing to lose in real life, and Everything to gain in the After

    Comment by RAndomizer — November 13, 2006 @ 10:16 pm | Reply

  22. @Meenakshi – Thanks for stopping by! <br/><br/>You are willing to give up your money and your job too – quite a bit! – in order to conveniently make the world full of ‘good’ people. :) <br/><br/>That’s a very interesting thought – Convenient because it encompasses and eliminates all the ‘bad’ things in the world … but at the same time, I think you’ve taken it a little far when you say Jealousy and hatred should be gone too! <br/><br/>If human beings were incapable of hatred or jealousy, the world would be truly unimaginable. Being able to hate/love, be jealous/proud of something is what makes Human beings HUMAN … and if that was suddenly wiped out, we simply wouldn’t be human anymore .. <br/><br/>I think we could all live life better without, as you said, corruption, cheating, and the like – but I think jealousy and hate are part of being human, in fact two of the primary emotions, so I wonder if eliminating that is really a scenario you can imagine – considering that you wouldn’t be human in that scenario! :) <br/><br/>Thanks for your compliments btw, and keep stopping by!

    Comment by Randomizer — November 13, 2006 @ 10:34 pm | Reply

  23. @Randomizer,<br/>I knew that I’d have to answer this sooner or later :) <br/>The dictionary defines ‘altruism’ as “practice of unselfish concern for the welfare of others” and defines ‘selfishness’ as “concerned primarily with one’s own interests regardless of others”. <br/>If we go by this definition, then I’m certainly not altruistic because I AM concerned primarily about my interests. If, on the other hand, we take only tangible interests such as money or fame or power, then yes I’m not interested in those and then I can be called altruistic.<br/>But we all know what definition of selfishness holds good in the world today. It is indeed a sorry state of affairs that ‘selfishness’ is termed evil. I, and many others I’m sure, will never be apologetic about my ‘selfish’ nature and I see no need to be. It is when selfishness combines with evils like malice that there is a problem. But no one recognizes the combination here and is quick to judge the one quality that stands out.<br/><br/>For the other statement…well this is how I see it. What is a degree certificate? A piece of paper after all. Giving up my certificate would definitely not mean that I have lost the knowledge I’ve gained during my college years. And that’s what is important to me. <br/>If, tomorrow, I lose all my possessions in a fire or earthquake, would I not bend down and start all over again? Would some material possessions really make a difference to who I am and what I know? No way. So, if I look at it that way, giving up some material possessions in return for satisfaction and peace of mind actually means I’m getting the better deal :)

    Comment by Aegle — November 14, 2006 @ 5:00 am | Reply

  24. @Mahesh – That’s the best cause I’ve heard here ! :) Knowing all the answers to everything … <br/><br/>Though I don’t believe you’ve thought the whole thing through w.r.t. loss of your hearing, I definitely admit that knowing all the answers would be an awesome thing. And selfish though it may be, it perhaps is *the* greatest thing an individual (at least a curious / philosophical individual) could ask for. <br/><br/>On a side note, among the 5 senses, I think the sense of smell would be the easiest to lose … loss of hearing is a lot worse, don’t you think ? I think you forgot about this 5th sense. <br/><br/>Thanks for dropping by!

    Comment by Randomizer — November 14, 2006 @ 5:09 am | Reply

  25. @Randomizer,<br/><br/>To elucidate further…i understand that losing my degree means I can never claim to be an engineer or whatever…never say that i hold XYZ degree, even in job interview…but as i said, it still does not change what i know.

    Comment by Aegle — November 14, 2006 @ 7:04 am | Reply

  26. I did think about smell – but it is very related to taste. I do not think that the Choley my mom makes would taste the same it was not for its smell.

    I am a stomach person, and smell and taste go hand in hand. (I have a vague inkling that both are basically similar cells – one acts on gases and the other acts on fluids).

    No dude, I want my tongue – and I think I am half deaf already due to the amount of rock I listen to (with the volume I keep).

    PS: It was actually fun to see the comments from people than the post they were commenting to. Nice read. ;)

    Comment by Mahesh Bhat — November 14, 2006 @ 7:01 pm | Reply

  27. @Everyone<br/><br/>Thanks for all the wonderful comments. A nice big bundle of 26 comments … something that will be hard to try and repeat – but I’ll give it my best!<br/><br/>@ New visitors – Don’t shy away from commenting , I’d love to hear your comments too

    Comment by Randomizer — November 21, 2006 @ 5:11 pm | Reply

  28. Take my nose away!!!!!!!
    no more fouls!!!!!

    Comment by Prashant — November 22, 2006 @ 6:02 am | Reply

  29. i have a cause im willing to give up atleast my sense of smell for… so i didnt get thru ur article. then i read some of the comments and was wondering if i played the game correctly. so i read a lil more…. anyway im willing to give up all that u have put on the table if i can be assured of achieving my cause.

    i am willing to go much farther than the ‘normal’ person to make everyone in this world “God Conscious” or as ur religion says “fill this earth with The Glory of God”. i dont think there is much sense describing this cause here because it is complicated to analytically explain and often pointless talking about.

    Comment by Abhishek Gurumadhva — January 16, 2007 @ 6:00 pm | Reply


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