JUST read that the Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani Express would soon be reaching four hours faster! All this by building a wall along the railway tracks between Mumbai and Surat, which would allow the train to travel faster, as it wouldn’t need to slow down for people crossing the tracks.
‘Let’s get there faster,’ we shout, ‘Let’s finish the job! Which brings me to a question, will there be adequate footbridges all along the way for the poor on foot to cross? Of course, car owners will drive to subways and over-bridges, but what about the pedestrian?
During, this terrible Covid period, a building went in for repair, and though there was a risk of outside workers bringing the dreaded virus to the members, and they did, as two in the building died and another eight got the disease, the refrain from the man who was in charge was, “Hey! We finished the work!”
At what cost? A few years back, my brother decided to do his doctorate on ‘Excellence’, concentrating specifically on ‘God’s Idea of Excellence!’ He asked me whether he could bounce his thesis off me, as he went along.
I was delighted!
One particular example made us realise that the divine idea of finishing a job in what we thought was an excellent way may not have been God’s idea of what we called ‘excellence’. I am going to mention the incident:
A man, quite a stickler for punctuality, makes his way to church for the Sunday morning service.
He has organized himself well, by leaving home with enough time to spare, that if he gets into a traffic jam, he still won’t be late.
He reaches his church, which has a long narrow staircase leading up to the sanctuary. He is startled to find there’s a crowd at the bottom of the staircase which isn’t moving fast enough up the stairs, at least not at the pace that will take him to the church on time! He brushes past them and then finds in the middle of the staircase, a paraplegic struggling to climb the steps.
The man who has slowed down everybody turns around and seeing the impatience of the ‘punctual’ man below, offers to try and move aside to let him pass.
Suddenly, Mr Excellence feels a gush of compassion, shakes his head and says he is in no hurry. He puts forward an arm and slowly helps the differently abled man up.
They enter the church five minutes late, but Mr Excellence smiles as he knew that in God’s eyes, this was the excellence that was valued.
Even as the Rajdhani speeds up, will it pass poor people wearily walking miles to the next crossover? When we exclaim, “let’s finish the job!’ what is the job we need to finish, reaching on time, or compassionately taking everybody along?