Simple stories on Anger and Generosity

Powerful stories have what psychologists call “emotional resonance” – they tap into our based values, beliefs, and experiences. At their best, stories convey deep moral wisdom. Some of the greatest stories told are religious parables, which communicate core values in easily understood ways. But secular parables can be equally effective like this:

A little girl had a ferocious temper. Her mother gave her a bag of nails and told her that every time she lost her temper, she must hammer one nail into the back of a fence. The first day she drove 26 nails into that fence.  As the girl learned to control her anger, the number of nails she hammered each day gradually dwindled. It was easier to hold her temper than to drive those nails into the fence. Finally the day arrived when the girl did not lose her temper once. Her mother then said that everyday she successfully controlled her anger, she should pull one nail from the fence. Weeks later the young girl told her mother that all nails were out. The mother walked her daughter to the fence. She said, “You have done well but look at the holes in the fence! The fence will never be the same. When you say angry things, they leave scars just like these holes.

The value taught by this story is clear: Anger has its consequences.

Years ago, I was consulting for a manufacturing company. The firm had plants spread across North America. The company boss, a man in his sixties, insisted that he travel with me to each plant. On our trip to first site, I noticed him doing something curious. At the airport, after buying a newspaper, he took his change and placed it piece by piece, in the coin-return boxes of the pay phones. My first thought was that he wanted to avoid setting off the metal detectors at the security gate. But we were already beyond security. So, I noticed, he had an interesting quirk.
A week later, we were traveling together again. This time we were waiting for a delayed flight at Chicago O’Hare International airport. My companion went into the shop near our gate an bought a newspaper. Returning, he strolled past a bank of pay phones and again dropped his change into the coin-return boxes – a quarter in one, a penny in another and a nickel in a third. Once he sat down, I asked him why he did this. “Watch the phones”, he said. Minutes later a couple walked by the phones with a three-or four-year old girl between them. The child looked exhausted. She suddenly sat down almost in tears. The father headed off in search of a treat while the mother soothed her. Soon the little girl spied the phones. What does any child do with pay phones? Od-course she reached up and started checking their coin-return boxes. IN the first, she found a nickel, in the next a penny, in the third a quarter.  IN less than a minute. she went from a cranky, whiny youngster to a child wreathed in smiles. I turned to my friend and said that’s nice. And he replied, “Yeah it doesn’t cost much to make a person happy.” To this day, when I pass one of those remaining pay phones in airports, I think of his simple generosity.


How do you come up with personal stories to advocate?

1. Consider your values and why you have them?
2. Ground your notions in specifics: What specific event or person convinced that your idea was important? what bothered you (specifically) about the current state of affairs?
3. Create a matrix that prompts you to think of stories:

To create a matrix list some issues or topics that you might need to address in the future – teamwork, a change, a process or procedure, a policy, your idea. Across the top of the page, list situation (setting challenge), characters, goals, obstacles, action, result and lesson. For each issue spend time thinking about a time you learned something valuable. Who else was involved? What was the predicament?. what did you do? what did you hope to accomplished? what happened? what did you learn? If you are really stuck, say something like “I know teamwork is important . For example…….”If you end statements with the phrase “for example”, you force yourself to think narratively.

  Situation Characters Goals Obstacles Action Result Lesson
New Policy              
New Idea              

Pontificate in study–Pope John Paul II

All religions strive for human happiness and do their best to lay a spiritual & philosophical path to achieve that. In truer sense, all religions’ end game is to strive for human liberation and hence I don’t see any reservations in embracing different religions’ selected ethical teachings to the improvement of human qualities. Currently probing into Pope John’s life to get some insights and how he and Christian faith handled profound human questions in society? Some information on how papal election happens and how a pope is anointed was very interesting!

His reflections on sex drive has been captured in Love and Responsibility. Some tidbits from this book:

The realm of spirit is affected by sexual differences and virtue can only come from spiritual strength i.e. relationship with God, not from a person’s own ego. The dividing line between selfishness and unselfishness is very fine. This book’s unity and integrity came from its clarity and awareness of the difference between psychology and ethics, and its ability to reconcile and enrich one with the other – always provided in the final reckoning that it was the spiritual that determined and had the final authority. He abhorred ‘coitus interruptus’ and was against chastity. Wojtyla dismisses chemical contraceptive methods and to support his argument quoted Mahatma Gandhi:

to say that the sexual act is an instinctive activity, like sleep, or the appeasement of hunger, is the height of ignorance. The existence of the world depends upon the reproductive act, and since the world is God’s domain, and a reflection of his power, this act must be subject to controls [which must come from within man], the purpose of which is the continuation of life on earth.

Freud too, had in Wojtyla’s view a reductive narrow vision , for to interpret ‘all human phenomena of human life from earliest infancy onward as manifestations of the sexual urge’ was to depict man as a subject , not as an object, one of the objects of objective world. Libido means in Latin ‘enjoyment resulting from use’; emphasizing the pleasure principle in sex, Wojtyla maintained, Freud ignored the sexual urge which is to create new life, to imitate the work of the Creator. So claiming that sexual urge is ‘libidinistic’, directed solely towards pleasure, Freud – like the utilitarian philosophers – ignored the ‘inner self’ of man, removing from man his responsibility ‘is the fundamental, the vital component in the sexual morality of man’. This is key to success of Love and Responsibility, for, as Wojtyla wrote, ‘There’s no possibility of psychological completeness in love unless ethical completeness is achieved’


‘A book would penetrate conscience’ he had said of publishing project. ‘Pictures flee, a book stays.’ – ‘Crossing the Threshold of Hope’, an astonishing personal work, fast became a bestseller in 22 countries. ‘On the dignity and vocation of Woman’, as correcting the teaching of St. Paul, who described the subjection of woman to man, ‘All the suggestions in favor of the ”subjection” of woman to man in marriage, he writes, must be understood in the sense of ‘mutual subjection’ of both them ‘out of reverence for Christ’

Wojtyla, like Michelangelo, was a man of vehemence and while Michelangelo’s work had not appealed to the Christian propagandists of the Enlightenment in 17th century, neither had Wojtyla’s papacy appealed to the progressive Catholic theologians in our time. John Paul brought to that anguished  and terrifying reality of judgment his own measured response. His triptych disclosed more calm, unleashing no vivid powers of violent self-dramatization, but simplicity, sincerity, almost in awe of the place and its reverberations on his spirit. ‘The Stream’ the first part of Roman Triptych,  reminds one of the passages in his plays before (The Jeweler’s Shop) evoking a mountain landscape of poet’s hiking days, romantic in feel, Wordsworthian in its search for meaning and the sense of God’s imprint on natural beauty:

If you want to find the source
You have to go up, against the current
Break through, search, don’t yield,
You know it must here somewhere.

Go for an organic mobile device of choice

As I was pondering on the capitalistic malaise that downgrades humanism, the best answer to it is to choose a democratic device that is not dictated by monopolistic authority. Even if the device carries enormous power, creativity, sophistication and ingenuity, if it loses conscience, it will eventually lose all its appeal – perhaps may not for short term but long term, yes. The greed for profits and shareholder interest need not leapfrog age old human dignities. As we’ve seen for ages that this truth gets established ceaselessly, corporate greed managers will understand in all realms, not just in mobile space but in every business pursuit, it remains an universal truth. Hence, capitalism works until human dignity is not trespassed. In the false guise of productivity, no human can be stripped of clean air, water, work environment and be grossly underpaid commensurate to the risks forced upon. Become organic in choosing your mobile, electronic devices of choice, make sure they don’t come from sweat but at least with a sweat of dignity.