Weekly Reading List

January 7, 2020

Dear Friends,

Welcome to another edition of   Weekly   Reading   List !!  Thank you for joining.

We have four interesting pieces in this edition.

  1. The first one is a few ideas on why following one’s passion may not be a good idea. The author analyses deeply the problem with an obsession with passion. One essential idea is to understand that a passion need not be a fixed one or something one should be searching endlessly. Instead, a passion can be something a person develops on the way or something which can be changed.  Not everyone is lucky to choose a career as per one’s passion and in such cases, one can always find passion in something outside one’s work.  The author also argues that focussing on something which one is caring or one that gives a meaning can be a nobler thing than something which is only fun.  These interesting deliberations on passion can be read here.
  2. This is a discussion on meritocracy. Meritocracy is always considered a very noble idea and people have a natural feeling that the world should be moving towards meritocracy.  In this essay by Clifton Mark, the author highlights the fact that a total belief in meritocracy may not be correct and he brings out the connection between merit and luck in interesting ways.  There are a lot of cases where merit favours those who are lucky with their upbringing or genetic endowments. Also as the author argues, believing in meritocracy makes people more selfish, less self-critical and even more prone to acting in discriminatory ways. The author says that when success is always linked to meritocracy, each win adds to self-flattery and a reflection of one’s own worth and virtue. When every achievement is termed as a result of merit the opposite also becomes prominent. Worldly failures become signs of personal defects, providing a reason why those at the bottom of the social hierarchy deserve to remain there. Read this beautiful take on merit here.
  3. This is a time of agitations and our democracy is in the streets now. There are many ways to see such agitations. There are people who consider it as the essential feature of a vibrant democracy and a legitimate way of getting one’s demands. There are also issues when such agitations turn violent and are brutally suppressed.  It is not only in India, even in countries where there is no functioning democracy also there are occasions when people take it to the streets. In these circumstances, author Antonia Malchik categorically concludes that “ that tumult is a companion to democracy and when ordinary politics fails, the people must take to the streets.” According to her “people don’t engage in unrest for the fun of it, or because they’ve lost their rationality to a mob mentality; they do it because they feel they have no other choice.” This is very important. How do you react when you are pushed to the wall and you are left with no options?  When you are up against unreasonable/brutal regimes, perhaps there is no other way but to come to the street and argue your case. A compelling read on the essential link between riot and democracy.
  4. The last piece is on a subject we are very familiar with. Comparing with others is a trap in which most people fall. In this motivating piece from Farnam Street blog, the author tells us that the best scorecard is an inner one. Comparing ourselves with others is a sure recipe for unhappiness. You can be anything but you can’t be everything. When we compare ourselves to others, we’re often comparing their best features against our average ones. It’s like being right-handed and trying to play an instrument with your left hand. As the author says, comparing ourselves with others means we allow others to drive our behaviour. On the other hand when we focus our energy on what we can do and improve, the world looks better. The only thing we need to worry is to become a better version of ourselves. Children are often prey to parent’s obsession at comparing their wards to other kids. In this frantic chase, the uniqueness of each child is lost.  It is very important that we shun our obsession with comparison with others. Read this motivating piece here.


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