Fuck it, cut it, bleed it, burn it, then fuck it again

“The outrage!”

“Scandalous!”

“And on a public forum like this, what does he hope to achieve?”

“We should not be exposed to this kind of content. It is shameful, to say the least.”

I acknowledge that many of you may be of this opinion after haphazardly glancing upon the title of this post. If so, I request you to kindly pen down your opinion upon a piece of paper, fold it such that it assumes a nonchalant shape, and thrust it so far up your rectum that it becomes thoroughly coated with excrement, then proceed to dispel it with your ritualistic morning bowel motion. Your cooperation is much appreciated.

What did you just read? More importantly, what did I just write? This post has been long in the making. In fact, it has been so long in the making that this is the third draft that I am working on. I needed to get this just right, however, as the subject of this post is something which has been on my mind for almost as long as I have been writing.

Those who regularly frequent this small corner of the Internet will know of my running feud with institutions of right and wrong, and arbitrarily defined social constructs. Compound that with my sexual orientation, and established codes of morality, and we emerge as sworn enemies. How could this animosity, then, not translate into the things I write and, by extension, things I choose to read?

Ever since civilisations have been around, it would seem, there have been rules that needed to be followed. On a societal level, the existence of rules makes a fair bit of sense: no matter how much sinful pleasure you derive from malicious deeds, a dystopian society would not benefit anyone. Upholding of laws and a basic moral code (again, the very nature and definition of morality are severely in question here, but fuck it) seems essential for the progress and prosperity of any civilisation. The problem comes, at least for me, when these societal constructs are extended into art.

I use the term art very liberally here (hark!), meant to encompass all forms of art, though I primarily seek to speak of the written word. Art has long been a way of escape for many, many greats. It has been a source of comfort and release for ages and has produced great works in being so. Before it was a release, however, it was a form of expression. It was meant to put before the world whatever happened to float across the mind of the artist, and the mind doesn’t think by the rules of society. Why, then, is expression confined to those rules? If the expression of an idea is merely the physical realisation of fanciful notions, why do we put limits on it?

Is it fear? Do we fear that if the sacrilegious thoughts of a radical thinker became public, others would realise their own inappropriate desires, and seek to disrupt the intricate balance of society? What a load of bull. Art is revolutionary, whether it is moral or amoral. What makes art profound and transcendental isn’t its crass deliverance, but its content. If art were to resonate with a someone and push them towards a societal reform, it would be because they identify with the artist and the emotions conveyed in the art. By hindering the full expression of the art form, we kerb the full intensity of the emotion that can be conveyed, which is an injustice to art itself.

Recently, I had shared some explicit, erotic, Harry Potter fan art with a poor, unsuspecting friend of mine, who had honestly expected more innocent content. Needless to say, she was traumatised and verging on a stroke. The art, which shows the male heartthrobs of the saga passionately consuming each others’ bodies (in graphic detail), happens to be some of the best Harry Potter fan art that I have seen, ever. My friend’s reaction reminded me, once again, of how underexposed we are to art as a whole, and to the acceptance of various art forms, and assessment of art for their objective beauty, irrespective of their subjective appeal. It wasn’t her fault for being scandalised by the art, of course; the blame lies entirely on society, for narrowing our spectrum of appreciation of art forms to what it considers appropriate.

Now, I do not advocate subjecting four-year-olds to morbid and nihilistic works, but that does not mean that you do not even lay the path for them to one day discover those works without preconceived notions. Neither do I encourage people to go out of their way to be overtly crude with their delivery of art. It is not about being profane; it isn’t about being the most scandalous writer on the block; it’s about being true to yourself, and expressing whatever you wish to express, in whichever way you wish to express it.

For too long, now, there have been limitations on the kind of thing one can write in a particular context for a particular people at a particular time on a particular forum. How is anyone supposed to express themselves wholly with such limiting shackles binding all free thought? The reason this post is riddled with “age-inappropriate” content is simply to show people that freedom of expression needs to be wholly exercised.

To all those who have taken offence to the presentation of the most more than the actual content: I hope this is the last time.

“You can’t call people fat!”

The past few weeks have been remarkably eventful, thus launching me into another spell of absence from this little corner of the Internet that I have come to be so fond of. More importantly, however, these weeks have given me a lot to think about, thus, as though by some crooked sense of consequence, a lot to write about. Dwindling between the sweetness of slumber and the cruelty of consciousness, I find myself unable to give much thought to the topics at hand, and so I’ll write about something which has been on my mind for quite some time.

Recently, in an attempt to show that we care about society as much as we care about ourselves, the institute where I study commissioned a trip to a cancer hospital and a nursing home, to be headed by the Student Council, of which I am a part. And so a meeting was scheduled by the president of our council to discuss the trip and our respective roles in the project. For reasons best left to the imagination, philanthropy isn’t my strong suit. My distaste for charitable activities is evident for the best of causes, and here I was at the centre of one of the most pretentious undertakings I had ever seen. Needless to say, emotions ran high.

Using every last device of cunning left in my arsenal (pardon the exaggeration; it was more along the lines of trading favours with the council president), I managed to get out of going to the ghastly place, while boisterously announcing my relief. As expected, tones of disapproval rang sharp in the background. People who have very questionable morals of their own started lecturing me about my heartless nature, and how I need to “get over myself” or need to “have a heart”.

And once again I was face to face with an arbitrarily defined sense of social correctness. A set of defined morals was somehow governing my life and deciding whether or not my opinions were socially acceptable. People who were vaguely aware of society’s definition of good or bad carried the license to judge me on my beliefs, while completely disregarding their own in favour of what the “world” deemed correct. Almost all the people seated in that room were of a similar opinion to mine, and yet when I voiced mine, pandemonium seemed to reign. Hypocrisy, it would seem, had once again dominated a social gathering.

It wasn’t just here, though, that I had spotted such behaviour. Every once in a while, I’d make the grave mistake of stating my opinion amongst people who, curiously enough, shared that very same opinion, and almost every time I would get shot down for being rude or uncouth or insensitive or, in the particularly amusing cases, inhuman. Not four days ago, I was given a present by a good friend of mine, and I reacted in a way which wasn’t particularly warm, but was certainly not hostile, and, above all, it was honest. From the tone of this sentence and the post in general, it is not difficult to infer the discussions that followed with my friend, who seemed thoroughly upset that I had reacted the way I had.

These examples, and so many others like them, seem to deliver a clear message: you can’t speak your mind if what you think or feel isn’t socially acceptable. Leaving personal opinions aside for a second, we are faced today with a society which condemns even the most objective of statements, if they seem to clash with social correctness. The title of this post is an allusion to the same, but it is also a small reference to something which I’ve always had problems with. I still remember being forcibly told that calling people fat was wrong, and being given no good reason for it.

Such pointless doctrine has been instilled into society so forcibly that any kind of social reform is a distant dream. We are so oblivious to the value of unadulterated honesty and so sensitive to our own insecurities that having them realised in the form of words is deeply unsettling. Instead of coming face to face with the ideas of one another, we wish to shy away from our thoughts and insecurities, because someone sometime ago decreed certain things incorrect.

The end of this spiteful posts hopes to see some kind of a social reform in the near future, so that I can speak my mind without threat of persecution.

The life of an If-You-Can-Type-In-Full-Sentences-Sexual

Sapiosexuality, it would seem, is a sin in this day and age. Apparently, to covet a beau (yes, I dare to use that word) who is able to hold a conversation for longer than ten minutes without talking about the specifications of your fun bits is a ghastly mistake. With a population that is growing exponentially and a world that is growing smaller by none too small a rate, this lack of intellectually stimulating partners is frustrating, to say the least. The Age of Idiotic bedmates is upon us, gender irrespective.

There have been numerous occasions when someone of interest has had all the necessary physical charms, is the right age and the right distance away, and is otherwise ideal for casual merry-making, but have lost their appeal the moment they spoke. Words, which so often “seal the deal” where other factors simply cannot, seem to be the downfall of these circumstances, leaving me deeply disheartened and thoroughly deprived of a good evening. Individuals with increasingly lucrative prospects have driven me to the edge of sanity in awe of their charisma, before rudely pushing me back into the heartless reality which gleefully blares that: “no one has it all”.

And so, it seems, no one does. Indeed, the time has now come when I cannot even remember the last time I was associated with a person whom I found stimulating, in the only way that really counts. Not that I devoutly search for physical attributes when looking for possible courters (not that I would ever admit to it here for fear of appearing shallow) but it would be nice if, once in a while, a pretty face were blessed with a shadow of aesthetic common sense. In fact, the physical traits may be entirely ignored in the case of a person who, as the title of this rather an age inappropriate post proudly proclaims, can type in full sentences.

Nothing, in my opinion, is a bigger turnoff than dreaming of chatting up a beautiful specimen of mankind, coming up with a witty introduction to yourself and receiving the words: “lol. hw r u” in response. There are days, however, when those not quite Adonis-like respond to messages in language to impress, but the rarity of those events compared to the frequency of the former makes the overall issue a rather solemn one. One good chat does not a satisfied teenager make.

I wish I could give mankind the benefit of the doubt and say that only the gender which I have approached with less than sandbox-playmate intentions has presented me with such sorrowful results; alas, it is not so. Adamant to find myself the perfect blend of charm and humour, of beauty and wit, of intellect and goof, and basically any other balance there is, I expanded my horizons beyond the boundaries of gender discrimination. Finally, after years of having society define me as heterosexual, and me defining myself as bisexual, I was forced to conclude that I was, in fact, a sapiosexual and that there was nothing that I could do about it.

Of course, the fact that I am distinctly unable to maintain good relations with people is one which I have conveniently overlooked more times than is healthy. Only recently, I found myself thoroughly immersed in an individual who seems to have been formulated out of the concoction of characteristics I mentioned above, with a face to put Narcissus to shame. I would like to tell you the tale of how well we resonate, and how you are all invited to our wedding, and to the high school graduation parties of our daughters Clarisse and Daniela, but then I would have to lie, and I feel we know each other too well for that by now. And so no, there has been none of that, and I am more or less to blame.

You see, I have become so unequipped with coming across a person with whom I can connect intellectually, that I have forgotten how to deal with the situation when it does arise. I find myself trying to squeeze in too many seconds into the one minute, too many minutes into the one hour, too many hours into the one day and so on in a futile attempt of getting as much out of that person as possible. Somewhere in a very deep, dark, unfriendly and decidedly asexual corner of my mind lurks a little voice which convinces me that if I don’t soak up this individual thoroughly at every chance, I shall be left to die in a miserable corner of my one-bedroom-apartment, overdosing on Class A drugs.

I don’t claim that I am superiorly intellectual (as I would like to believe) but just that it is very rare for me to find people who stand where I stand, on the Kinsey and other scales. Over time, I have come to accept that even when I am presented with such miracles of nature, I am bound to drive them away, and so the need to have an abundant supply of them in my vicinity has greatly increased, leading to my becoming more flustered and unbearable. And so the vicious cycle entraps me within its iron hold.

Just before I conclude this completely unnecessary piece of Internet space, I would like to acknowledge that this is, in fact, my first official “coming out” post of sorts, and to all those who receive great shocks at the revelation of my sexuality, I’d like to say just this: really, you should have known.

To those of you who are cursed with sapiosexual friends/relatives/children/siblings/cats: please excuse the narcissism, it’s not really our fault.

The lost art of Reading Time

The warmth of the watery, January Sun has seeped into my bones enough to cause me to step out of my shell of Winter laziness and pick up a pen and paper, and then my laptop. I’d like to thank you all sincerely for sticking by this rather mad collection of words over the past few months and would like to ask for your support for the long days to come. We can make something truly great out of this journey, all we need is some hard work. And so before I delve into a description about another one of my quirks, I would like to sincerely request you to leave some comments in the “Comments” section (points for apt naming) so that I can see what it is about this weblog that interests you and what more should I write on.

The idea of this post struck me on my train journey back from home, when I saw a young boy consumed with the digital age, almost uprooted from the fertile land of analogue discovery which defined my childhood. No, it wasn’t as menacing as this sounds, but it might as well have been. After having had a week to gather my thoughts, I am eager to bring forward this particular post and even more eager for your reviews.

As a child, I had been obsessed with watches. As a slightly older child, I am still obsessed with watches. I distinctly remember the long trips to the markets undertaken in the fiery heat with relatives I barely remember, just for the prospect of obtaining an analogue watch, or a “big person watch” as I then considered it. Soon that obsession converted to digital watches, then back to analogue, but the need to have a watch stayed constant.

I remember putting people in situations where they would have to ask me the time and I would get the opportunity to flip my skinny wrist over and proudly read out the time. Soon, the motion became reflexive, and on the dark, unfortunate, days where I didn’t have a watch my wrist would jerk towards me anyway to remind me of the fact. Then, the mobile was invented.

In all fairness, mobiles had been around forever, or for as long as I had known what a mobile was, but no one seemed to turn to the big ugly things for time; they were just or calling. Then they became more and more integral to life: my elder siblings, and others around me also unable to withstand the onslaught of “digitization”, started using them for sending text messages, then for listening to music, then for taking pictures, then for every act of man conceivable. Somewhere in this mess of making our lives entirely the fruit of battery power and LCD screens, the art of reading time got lost.

I realise that this sounds as though I am vehemently against technology, which further makes me a hypocrite (by the very fact that I am using a weblog), but neither of those notions, the former for sure and hopefully the latter too, are true. I am wholeheartedly in support of technology, being myself reliant on it, I believe it to be a great creation of mankind. However, seeing that boy, less than half my age and watch-less, use his father’s phone to tell the time was a soul-stirrer.

I spent the rest of my hours on the train engaging in activities which were as far from technology as possible. I enjoyed a few chapters of Orhan Pamuk’s brilliant book, Silent House; I put my mind into solving the Rubik’s cube; I procured an abandoned cooking magazine (no doubt in lieu of digital cookbooks available on the range of device currently planning our demise); and I enjoyed the beautiful countryside fly by my window.

However, my celibacy from technology was short-lived. Already aware of the impending ambush by digital substitutes of all things I held dear, I sought to steer myself away from the young boy who had fallen into the iron clasp of technology before he had learnt to defend himself. Alas, I could not. I was once again placed opposite his inability to read time without the aid of a back-light and large digits on a glass screen.

Waves of pity and remorse coursed through me as I saw the child get absorbed in a train-themed running game on that very device. It wasn’t just the absence of analogue watches which bothered me, though that played the major part; it was the realisation of the fact that as we advance, we leave things behind. It seems obvious and I can be called foolishly small-minded, but I find it hard to give up things which define us in some way or the other.

What will be next to go, after time-reading? Will we forget how to write with pens on paper? Will we no longer fall sleep to the smell of books? Will we let go of the sweet pain felt at the top of a long flight of stairs? What further sacrifices must we make in the bargain?

Of course, all this could be an overreaction to something which ought not to be given even a moment’s thought, but that message hasn’t quite reached my mind yet, and I would like to get this post across before it does. It isn’t just about holding on to outdated things in the face of modernization; it isn’t even about reluctance to accept the change that comes with a developing world. No, it’s about weighing what we leave behind with what we accept, and creating some sort of balance.

I tried writing this up on my cell phone earlier this week, yet something about the feel of a keyboard is irreplaceable, and so here I find myself drafting yet another post on my trusty computer, which I have grown a certain fondness for.

Change is inevitable, that is not only an obvious fact but one which has been overstated. However, change is also relative. It is only change when we compare it to what is already there. If we give up everything that is already there, how will we define change any more?

Something to think about I suppose, in the park, with trees, and dogs, and ponds, and grass, and wooden benches, and tea stalls, and not a single LCD screen in sight.

Dealing in joy

It has often come to my attention that the Universe has, over the course of the few billion years of its existence, lost its grip on the balance of things which usually governs everything we do. I tend to flatter myself every now and then and thus took it upon me to restore the balance which I so very sorely missed.

A word of advice here, one which I have myself created and which has nothing to do with the habit of which I spoke previously: maintaining the balance of the Universe is easier said than done. Valiantly though I had set out upon my conquest, I gave up unfortunately quickly.

Often, you will find that the need to be useful, and the desire to be productive can work miracles in the case of despair. The very same happened with me earlier this year. Feeling downhearted at the prospect off having let go of my noble desire, rather mission, I found solace and, for all intents and purposes, inspiration, in chocolate, of which too I have promised to speak.

It was perhaps the sinful, bitter taste of chocolate which awakened my senses as no imbalance of the Universe had. I looked around me and was startled to see that people spoke with one another in monotonous, expressionless tones and with dull, lifeless faces. Scattered amidst these scenes of indifference were façades of intense, unyielding misery.

I myself am a great admirer of joy: sheer, unadulterated humour is my idea of time best spent. To see this lack of joy in abundance in a surrounding which I was associated with did not sit well with me. I then decided to spread as much joy as I could, which at once reminded me of the restoration vow I had taken earlier. This got me thinking about how one large, integrated vow was much easier to keep than two rather difficult ones.

This logic, at the time of its conception, had made wonderful sense and so I was prompted to follow it through to the end. I did, and I can proudly say that I found a way to bring my integrated vow to life and to hold on to it. Fortunately, the plan unfolded flawlessly and seemed to have a lot of promise in store.

It is rather a simple pan you see. For every sad, miserable, teary-eyed person I find, I shall provide some form of joy, humour or comic relief to another. In such a way, I play my own trivial part in the restoration of the Universal balance along with spreading joy, thus fulfilling both of my vows. At the end of the day, I sit and match up my joyful people with the Universe’s miserable ones.

Soon, I spotted a glaring flaw in my thus far beautifully logical act of charity: the people that I do distribute joy to eventually become miserable too. And so, I decided to instigate a small change in my M.O. Instead of providing joy to a person for every miserable person I see, I decided to give out joy to as many people as I could.

One fine day, while championing the great cause of Universal balance, I was struck with brand new realisation. Since I was helping the Universe with restoring its balance, it would be senseless if the Universe didn’t pay me back somehow. And so, based upon that completely vague, absolutely abstract and downright senseless deduction, I set out looking for a gift, more payment than gift really, from the Universe. Adamant to prove to myself that I wasn’t in fact going crazy, I actually found something which could very well be Universe’s sign.

You see, every once in a while, when the Universe feels grateful for my help, it pays me back with ready-made humour. It may be a scenario which greatly amuses me, or seeing people laugh out, or anything which makes me feel like my conquest is, in fact, paying off. This may make absolutely no sense, but once you start to give out some joy, then you shall see the feeling of greatness which accompanies seeing joy in action. For spreading joy has a joy of its own.

Happy with the progress  I was making, I decided to tell my friend about my noble act, whose only query was regarding the identity of my dealing partner. I am an atheist, and so it made no sense to my friend that I should talk about the Universe as an entity. My response was rather obscure and is really quite difficult to explain but I shall try my best nonetheless.

When I talk about the Universe needing help or the Universe paying me back I don’t mean a particular entity who is somehow in charge of the various ongoings of things around us. I refer instead to the Universal sense of balance which is so very sorely missing nowadays. This is the same sense of balance which is responsible for the existence of day and night, for desert and ocean, for sky and ground, for good and evil, for light and dark.

“Who creates that balance? Looks to keep it stable?” asked my friend and, momentarily, I was stumped. Then I answered as best as I could: the beauty of the Universe is that it doesn’t need anyone to balance. Every single particle, every single molecule works to maintain that balance by its own. Every particle in the Universe will go about doing what it is meant to do irrespective of whether we spot it or not.

My friend’s next question was even more trying: “How do these particles know that it’s their job to give you funny stuff to laugh at?” And yet again I thought that my brilliant theory had met its close, but it hadn’t. The Universe doesn’t create anything for me, or for you, or for anyone. The Universe simply exists, it prolongs its own life, and should one spot something which they feel is out of place and they meddle, well so be it.

The only reason that the Universe seems out of balance to me is because I spot something and that it is out of balance. Maybe it is not so at all, maybe the Universe is perfectly in balance, maybe my meddling will have not make any difference at all and we will end up exactly where we were  supposed to in the first place.

My friend doesn’t like the concept of anything predestined. To all such people: maybe nothing is meant to be a particular way, maybe the Universal balance has been disturbed, maybe its been disturbed because ages ago someone meddled, maybe my meddling will also cause some effect, maybe the Universe does need someone to spot its discrepancies.

Whatever may be the case, as long as what I am doing doesn’t have any detrimental effects, I feel confident in carrying on with my mission. I shall keep doing what I do, until I can sense that the Universal balance has been somewhat restored. Wish me luck.

Affording Dreams

Upon one of my not infrequent visits to the village lying near my home, I came across a young girl washing some tattered clothes on a stone slab, wearing rags of her own. She was not young in a carefree way, or in any way which one might associate with youth. No, she was young because she simply wasn’t old, but she was, in fact, very grown up.

Like a grown up she earned for her family, fed her younger, and  there were many, listened to her elders, of which too were many, and helped around the house. Like grown ups her eyes were hollow, her words chosen, her actions measured, and her head weighed down. Her name was Reema, yet she called herself Aishwariya, after the famous Bollywood actress.

Her family comprised ten people, three of whom slept outside the house because there was no room in their ten by twelve shed they called home. The roof was a sheet of tin scavenged from a nearby school’s waste pile, the walls crumbling  bricks and the door a hacked and rotting plank of wood with a makeshift knob. In one corner sat a cold stone stove, the worse for wear when compared to ones present in neighbouring homes. The stove had last been lit two days ago, the mother informed me.

But it wasn’t the dire condition of living which caught my attention that day, it was, instead, a much more pleasing sight. For the rain was pouring down and homes were flooding, but a few, if indeed fifteen can be so called, children were splashing in puddles. And these children were, in fact, children, not elders in disguise.

They skipped and cheered, and slipped and fell. They called out names too, which seemed wrong at first, but then the light nature of their play resurfaced and all ills were forgotten. “We all live together; fighting would make life impossible” said Reema’s eldest sibling, the only educated person in the family.

Intrigued by this unexpected sight of joy amid ever-present gloom, I approached the party, which instantly  aborted its merry making and arranged itself as though for a demonstration, or inspection, or perhaps both. Whispers of “rich” and “bada aadmi“, meaning “rich man” were passed among them and, more out of fear than awe or respect, they died down.

After many failed attempts to to pick my sunken guts, I smiled at the children and walked away, anxious to see whether they would resume their game. They did. I realised in that single moment how detrimental my presence was in their society, almost as much as  theirs was in ours. If I caused children, the only souls unaffected by the perpetual sorrow, to stop laughing, then I had no business being there.

Yet I stayed, because y stubbornness refused to let me leave without making a change, and because I was determined to prove to myself that I could make a change. I went back towards the children, who seemed to have acclimatized themselves to my presence and didn’t bother to stop playing. I waited  for them to stop, which they did only when the sun emerged, watery and weak, from behind dark clouds.

Their game was senseless yet their joy was worth the wait. It was saddening to see that this little gathering of eight and nine year old children was the only happy occurrence in the vicinity. Finally, the children came over, bedraggled in the truest sense of the word, but smiling toothy grins nonetheless. I picked the youngest of the lot and asked his name, which turned all eyes my way.

Ayman, he’s my younger brother. I am Farhan“, said a tall, thin boy. He looked better cared for than the others, even his brother. I decided to direct the rest of my introductory questions to him. Less than ten minutes later I was bored of the monosyllabic responses which Farhan gave endowed me with. I had expected some amount of detail, but the responses were vague and forced.

I asked them about their goals and dreams, which prompted blank stares and awkward silences. I then told them mine, to provide something of a guideline for them, yet they simply stared. Seconds later it began raining again and the children return to their pitiful splashing, laughing and shouting. I made my way back to my home alone after that, thoughts racing through my brain at a million thoughts per second.

The walk back home took much longer than it had while coming. Intense sadness fought the blood flow in my veins and won, causing pain and hurt to course through my system. It was not so much the living condition or the state of the children which took all the life out of me; it was the fact that these children lacked the most basic quality of childhood; dreams.

Upon reaching home I gave extensive thought to the predicament of those children, stopping repeatedly at the same conclusion. These children don’t need money or food  or  even education, for they know how it is to live without them and have thus made peace. They have also, unfortunately, never known a world beyond their own and so cherish nothing; they neither dream nor desire, neither crave nor want.

At the offset this appears most satisfactory: if they are content with what they have then there is nothing better, says doctrine. But doctrine, like all other social evils, isn’t fair at all. Is  it truly for the best that these children have contentment because they know of nothing better? How does doctrine justify the lack of greed due to lack of knowledge?

Here we are out to build a global, content, peaceful society yet we refuse to acknowledge the lack of desire among our kin, the lack of desire which sounds appealing, but which speaks of hollow morals. Perhaps educating these children will tarnish their sense of contentment, but it will give their lives meaning, a hope to live for. We distinguish ourselves from lower beasts by declaring that we live for a purpose; these kids, who know not of goals and aims, are then, little more than lowly life forms.

If not for them then for the betterment of human society to which we owe our  livelihood, we must think on these matters and take a step. Though many may disagree, each life is as important as the next, and we would be better off if we remembered that.