Sunday, May 29, 2011

The many virtues of Lying

(We’ve been fed with the virtues of truth since childhood. But what about the virtues of lying?)

How would you feel if someone told you were not a good person? Or that you don’t look good? Or that you’ll never make it big in life and die a mediocre?

Not so good, eh? It’s always easier to hear good things about yourself than be faced with the bitter truth (this is not to say the above hold true for you). Which is why I say - lying is not all that bad.

To be specific, there are three kinds of lies – the white lie, which doesn’t really harm anyone (even does some good at times), the black lie, which is unforgivable and scars the trust individuals share and the gray lie, which can’t be confidently categorized and is perceived differently by the giver and the receiver of the lie.

It is the white lie and to some extent the gray lie, that I refer to when I say lying is not all that bad.

Some white/gray lies are rather harmless
Human beings are sensitive creatures who derive confidence from appreciation and admiration from others. Sometimes, it is difficult to fathom if the two were genuine or superfluous. But that does not matter much to the heart. The brain may intervene and warn you “He’s just being sweet. That was such a lie.” But your heart is still reveling in the thought that they cared enough to lie. So lies make us happy.

There was a short story I read in school, "The Price of Flowers" by Prabhat Mukhopadhyay that better illustrates my point. It was a story of a poor little girl in England who had an ailing mother. Her brother was in the army and had been sent for battle to India. The mother believed that the author had a magic ring looking into which he could see people afar. One day the girl asked the author to lie to her mother that her brother was alive by pretending to gaze into the ring. The author obeyed. And only hearing those few untrue words, the mother's health was back and she soon recovered. Now didn’t the lie do more good than harm?

Moreover, one person’s lie can be another person's truth. There are only few absolute truths in the world.

When an onlooker encounters a child working in a factory he is quick to condemn it and urge action towards his schooling for a better future. For him, it’s true that the child deserves a better childhood and a better life and it’s abominable that he should be made to work at such a tender age. Hence, ban child labour.

For the kid though, it’s definitely not a pleasant experience. He hates being exploited like a slave but the labour feeds his family. It feeds his hunger. That’s his trurth. Hence, "I would like to have another option but please don’t ban child labour till I get one".   

Bear with me when I say this, but the whole world is living one lie or another.

Imagine your life without lies. No fiction or movies would exist. Except maybe documentaries, though they too show truth only from the filmmaker’s eyes – it may be not be the whole truth. What about jokes for that matter? 

Now don’t all these sources of fun and entertainment take away our stress? Lower stress means a healthier and happy life – and isn’t that what we pursue all our lives?

Economically speaking, lies generate employment. Apart from fiction writers and movie makers, people involved in the advertisement business, the PR business and even lawyers live on lies ;) :-  

Consider these advertisements, for instance – Fairer skin in just seven days (Fair and Lovely) or Kills 99.9% germs in your mouth (almost all toothpaste ads) or longer smoother shinier hair in the first wash (shampoo ads) and so on.

If they start speaking the truth, companies will shut down and millions would be unemployed.
Finally, it takes imagination and a lot of creativity to cook up lies and that in itself exercises your brain cells hence reducing your chances of age-related brain disorders
and you can lead a longer life. So, lies help you live longer too. 

(Interestingly, the fact that I am trying to justify lying when I don’t think lies can be justified, is a lie in itself )

Friday, May 27, 2011

When skirts bring you fame and money!

(Amazing how women's attires grab so much attention in the world. If only half of that was directed towards women themselves.) 

Doesn't the shuttlecock resemble a skirt? 
A month ago, The Badminton World Federation had introduced a new rule for elite players of the game: Wear skirts or dresses to "create a more attractive presentation". Or more blatantly put, a few days ago - 
"The reason we want the skirt regulation is to promote women's events, which are getting less and less popular. The bottom line is: they could earn more sponsorships and more money," said the BWF.
The rule drew heaps of scorn from badminton players, game officials and women around the world and its enforcement was delayed by a month. Tomorrow is the day when the matter will hopefully be put to rest in the organization's annual general meeting in China. 

Apart from the glaring, though persistently-denied sexism in the issue, telling top female players what to wear curbs their freedom to decide what best suits them and their game. Hong Kong player Chau Hoi Wah said shorts are more comfortable and "more appropriate" when stretching for a shot. An American badminton player by the name of May, said skirts made her feel self-conscious. 

But don' fret. The BWF has a provision for that: Players can wear shorts or trousers underneath the skirt.
"We just want them to look feminine and have a nice presentation so women will be more popular,” the BWF said. It adds, some women compete in oversize shorts and long pants and appear “baggy, almost like men.” 
Are people watching the sport for the game or the women playing it? Which makes me wonder why women's tennis is more popular than women's badminton? (Not that men's badminton is a sensation either. But that's not important.

So is it just because tennis women dress hotter and nobody really cares about the game itself? Because if you think what's better for the game, here's a valid argument -
“You sweat a lot doing badminton at a really high level. Sometimes, clothing sticks to you. Adding another layer does not enhance performance. It detracts. It counters the basic argument that they’re trying to generate more interest in women.” explains Janice Forsyth, director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario to The New York Times.
As neither the BWF nor the respective sports authorities of various countries could come up with better ways to channelise funds to the sport or make it more popular, dressing up female players was the next best option. 

The rule would come into force on June 1, 2011. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Obama shot dead: Sources

U.S. President Mr. Barack Obama has been shot dead by U.S. troops in Abbottabad,  a place 61 km from Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan.

Mr. Obama in happier times, never knew what hit him.

Hearing the news, people across the world have come out on the streets for celebrations. Republicans in America, the Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, the ISI in Pakistan and some parts of the Arab World are holding anti-Obama rallies in their respective countries, as supporters cheer on.

"It's a day for celebration, perhaps even bigger than the death of Osama!" says a Sarah Palin supporter.

According to unnamed sources, the news was first flashed in a popular news channel that prefers to remain anonymous for security reasons. "Yes, it's true. Somebody flashed Obama had been shot dead in the head in the news flash. It was on air for several minutes,"  the source said.

English translation: Obama has been shot in the head

Al-Qaeda, the militant organisation founded by Osama bin Laden, has claimed responsibility for the killing of a man who was ranked "the most powerful in the world" by Forbes magazine. It claimed responsibility in a letter addressed to Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Mr. Jintao was unavailable for comment. But his spokesperson said, "Mr Jintao was named the second-most powerful man in the world. And it pinched." Now with the U.S. President eliminated, by default, Mr. Jintao rises to the first position. 

Sources say that interns working for Al-Qaeda, were the first to "chance upon the news while uploading their cave pictures on Facebook ". 

"We ardently follow this news website and when we saw this news, our happiness knew no bounds. We jumped from our seats to tell our bosses. We thought we might get hired or get a stipend at least," said Jaish-e-Mohammad*, an intern .

Sources say the website is run by the same news organization that had flashed the news earlier on their television channel.

"Someone I can't name did write that Obama has been pronounced dead on the website too,"  said the website's sub-editor Ms. Pinky Singh*.

As more controversial reports pour in, what remains to be seen is whether it was a silly joke made by a disgruntled employee or were they in fact innocent mistakes made under pressure?

While the whole world waits for an answer, Ms. Singh is quick to add, "Somebody's gonna get a hurt real bad!

(*names have been changed)