Saturday, January 22, 2005

Maxim # 9: ஐயமிட்டு உண் -- Feed the hungry before enjoying your meal.

ஆத்திச்சூடி # 9: யமிட்டு உண் (i-yum-mi-tu un)

Translation: Feed the hungry before enjoying your meal.

Intended Translation: Charity to others is paramount.

Rumination: The term "ஐயமிட்டு" refers to "after alms-giving" and "உண்" to "you shall eat." The sequence of actions is pretty interesting. First comes feeding others, then comes feeding the self. Many of us would have witnessed the giving away of rotten and stale foods to wayside beggars. It will be better for us to throw such foods to the bin than to abuse the human dignity in the other person by granting it as alms. We must not give to others what we ourselves cannot eat and none of us can eat fungi, bacteria infested, rotten and stale foods. That brings us to the crux of this maxim. If we want to feed others, let us do it first, before we set to eat. In that way, we are truly sharing our goodness in charity; not discharging our wastes as charity. "The worst form of violence is poverty," said Mahatma Gandhi. Hunger is like childbirth, we all can talk about its pangs, but can only feel it when we ourselves undergo it. As long as there are millionaires in this world with riches beyond their needs, so long will there be paupers with needs way under their means. Hence hunger and poverty is to stay. Ergo, this maxim again does not contradict the previous one, if taken in the proper context. We cannot be indifferent to the hungry at our doorsteps. Allegorically, hunger in this maxim may also mean about the spiritual hunger of love, care, tenderness, bonhomie, camaraderie and attention in a person who is forlorn. We may even have our closest kith and kin suffering from such hungers. We need to tend to their needs first, before reveling in ours.

Quote: "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in a final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed—those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending its money alone—it is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children." -- President Dwight Eisenhower, at a speech in 1953.

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