Thursday, March 19, 2009


A teacher was teaching English grammar in a class. After the introductory session he asked the students to classify some common words into ‘singular’ or ‘plural’. First he said, ‘shirt’. Students shouted ‘singular’. Next he said, ‘shoes’. All shouted, ‘plural’. Then he said, ‘pants’. There was a silence. Then a smart boy said aloud, “Sir, it is singular at the top and plural at the bottom!”

Children learn the concept of ‘I’ and ‘we’ from social life, when they move as a family, participate in group activities at school or play as members of a team in games or on the stage.

Mahatma Gandhi, who led the struggle for Indian independence was not in the habit of wearing a shirt, even during winter or formal meetings. Surprised at this, a little boy asked him, “Why don’t you wear a kurtha, Bapuji? (Kurtha is a loose shirt commonly worn by men and women of India.) Gandhi explained that it was because he was poor and could not afford it. The boy readily agreed to get one kurtha stitched by his mother and gift it to Gandhi the next day. Gandhi replied that a single kurtha was not sufficient as he had a large family. He said he needed forty crores (400 million) of kurthas to properly clothe his brothers and sisters. He was referring to all the poor people of India whom he loved dearly. He refused to enjoy a comfort which was not available to every person of India.

The Lord’s Prayer taught by Jesus to his disciples bears the request, “Give us today the food we need” {Matthew 6:11}. The words, ‘us’ and ‘we’ obviously make it a collective request to include the needs of everyone around us. The early Christians led a life-style described by the words, ‘DARING’, ‘CARING’ and ‘SHARING’. They dared to practice what they preached. They cared for everyone, especially the sick and needy and shared their assets equitably to benefit everyone {Acts 4: 32-37}. They had imbibed the true spirit of the parable of the Good Samaritan told by Jesus. The road from Jerusalem to Jericho should pass through our home. The distance between me and my God is the distance between me and my neighbour. My neighbour’s pain should become my own agony.

“Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don’t have enough to eat. What good is there in your saying to them, “God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!”- if you don’t give them the necessities of life? So it is with faith: if it is alone and includes no actions, then it is dead” {James 2: 15-17}.


This is story No.115 in this site. Please click ‘older posts’ at bottom of page to read previous stories.

By: Dr. Babu Philip, Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India.

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