Quid Pro Quo with the Gods! I do not know about you, but I receive on an average about 100 messages daily through the internet. Some are crisp one liners, some not so crisp ten liners and a few 100 to 200 liners! Sometimes there are even longer messages, and the longer they are, the faster I delete them. I like people to tell me what they want to tell me in a few crisp words. Today I came across a two liner which said ‘I changed my thinking. It changed my life’. This is the kind of fodder that a jobless old guy like me would love to chew on! The most interesting thing about this statement is that there is no clue about who changed his thinking and how it changed his life. A most speculative statement, I would say! Quite often I ask myself if I am a good man or a bad man. I have never been able to judge myself even at this stage of my life. I changed my thinking not once but hundreds of times because I wanted my life to get better with each change, but it never worked that way. Through the best part of my life, I was only working for the betterment of my living condition and I never had time to assess the spiritual quality of my life. All I was concerned with was whether it was enhancing the quality of my physical life. In the final scene of a popular Tamil movie, the grandchild of the hero Kamal Hassan asks him if he is a good man or a bad man. The hero ponders over the question for a while and says ‘I do not know, my child’. The wise old Plato once said ‘Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.’ Don’t ask me if Plato really said it for I just picked it up from the net. Nevertheless, this statement had a great impact on me. I realised that there were law abiding citizens as well as law bending ones. I was recently reading an article on fourteen psychological factors that made good people do bad things. This runs counter to the belief that integrity is doing the right things even when no one is watching. I tend to believe it for I read occasionally about auto-drivers returning bags consisting of jewels worth lakhs of rupees left by the passengers in their vehicle. These drivers drive straight to the nearest police station to hand over the bag. The grateful owner of the valuable thanks the driver profusely and presents him with a crisp 500 rupee note! The police pose for a photo with the owner of the valuables and the driver of the auto. After the auto leaves, the Police collect Rs.10,000 from the owner of the jewels for restoring the valuables to him! In the meantime, the auto driver’s colleagues start chiding him repeatedly for his foolishness until the driver starts regretting his action! This is how the honest people are turned around to do dishonest things. We have here a situation where honest people are ridiculed to become dishonest. Corrupt bosses force their honest juniors to do dishonest things and in return for this help, they start rewarding them with gifts. Over a period of time, the honest junior employee comes to know of the ‘market practice’ and starts demanding his rightful cut! These corrupt guys spare no one. My housemaid was telling me the other day that she had to pay Rs.500 to the ‘middle man’ to get her ration card. There is a well known saying that ‘the more he talked of his honesty the faster we counted our spoons’. The implication of this statement is that honest people do not go about proclaiming their honesty for there is no need for it. Truly honest people do not have to convince anyone of their honesty. It is only the dishonest that keep declaring their honesty endlessly. Such dishonest folks talk of quid pro quo even with gods. A couple of years back, a wealthy businessman cum politician donated jewels worth Rs.50 crores to his favourite god for the bounty that he was blessed with! Within six months, he was jailed by the tax authorities for his undisclosed income! Every picture of Goddess Lakshmi comes with gold pouring out of both her hands. Our prayers are invariably for our physical betterment for which purpose we are even prepared to talk business with Gods! In order that we live a comfortable life, we do not mind even bribing god!