when did you last say.....

When did you last say thank you to the man who washes your car, the one who delivers your newspaper or the one who collects your garbage every day. When did you smile at the lady who leaves her children to come and look after yours? When did you look into the eyes of the waiter who served you your coffee while you sat laughing with your pals? A mail from the founder of dream-a-dream reminded us all of just that. He said: Change, I believe, will have to happen in two-ways. One, empowerment of the vulnerable who can stand up for their dignity, respect and rights as an equal in society and at another, more difficult level, empowerment and sensitization of the community of people like us who over generations have become immune to the prejudices and biases we exercise in our daily lives.

As we sit watching the market crashing and stocks tumbling and dolefully counting our losses, it is perhaps time to take a peep into ourselves and see what we have truly lost. If we do so with honesty and candor we will be compelled to realise that over the years we have lost our ability to care, love, give an reach out to others. Hubris took hold of us in more ways than one, and we lived insulated little lives protecting what we had been taught to believe as being the only asset of true value. We had all become targets of what a friend called financial terrorism. A very insidious form of terrorism as it does not operate through violent and visible attacks, but feeds on surreptitiously creating large than life dreams in innocent people's lives, dreams that are waiting to crash.

It was almost two years ago that I wrote about my fears about plastic money and bank loans reaching the pockets of the poor. But the adversary was too big for me, the terrorist forces were at work and the dreams too tempting to resist. It has been two years since the loan was taken. The money was used in a day to add veneer to a wedding. And since that fateful day the little family of 5 has had to live with half a salary, the other half being used to pay the dreaded EMIs. This is just one instance. There are innumerable others.

But was this post not about saying thank you! or rather about the importance of getting past our prejudices and fears, of reclaiming lost values like compassion and empathy. I somehow feel that it is the new mantra we have all been taught to chant that is the cause of such a behaviour. In a world where the material, the visible and the transient are valued, there is no place for the immutable, the permanent and the invisible.

Maybe it is time to reclaim lost values and make them part of us. Maybe it is time to garner the courage to look at those we take for granted and whisper a simple thank you. I am sure that we will be the ones truly gratifies. I an never forget the beggar woman who many years back thanked me warmly not for having given her a coin or banknote, but for having simply looked into her eyes and told her that I was sorry i did not have anything to give!