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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Books, boys and guns

I was working as a schoolmaster in those days, and happened to look after the school library on the side. There was a very nicely drawn up poster on the wall, telling visitors in big, bold letters about the rules they were all expected to know and obey in order to keep the books safe, accessible and in good condition. One senior boy – a ‘good’ student, if you judged from his examination grades – was once caught red-handed by his classmates, trying to tear out a page from an expensive encyclopedia. The matter was duly reported to the headmaster, who decreed that the boy must pay a hefty fine, be debarred from the library for the whole year, and suspended from the school for a short period. His father, a senior manager in a large local factory, came to expostulate in defence of his son. The boy should be let off lightly, he argued; a suspension would damage his ‘reputation’ and might prove detrimental to his long-term prospects. The headmaster called me over to discuss the matter with this gentleman. I discovered that he was expecting leniency on the plea that it was a first offence, and besides, his boy was a ‘star’ of sorts. Did he know that rules were supposed to be the same for all, and ignorance of the law cannot serve as an excuse for committing a misdemeanour? – Yes, indeed, he did; besides, he admitted that the boy knew that what he was doing was wrong. All right, then, would he condone the same sort of leniency towards a first-time burglar who had broken into his house, I asked. Did he realize that if we let that boy off lightly, he would actually go about boasting about it, and serve as an active encouragement to further, and worse, misdeeds? – The man remained sullen and silent. It was clear that he was accepting the punishment only under protest, and that far from being able to convince him that it was being done for the greater common good, I had made a lifelong enemy that day.

A couple of years later, an old-boy came to look me up in the same library. He had never been a particularly ‘good’ boy, and he was certainly no teacher’s pet; after high school he had acquired some sort of low-level technical education and was currently employed by a private-sector engineering company in a fairly humble capacity. He didn’t have much to say, yet he lingered on, looking more and more uneasy as the afternoon wore on; it was obvious that he was waiting for the hall to clear before he would tell me what he had really come to say. At long last, when I rose to go, he drew out a tattered old book – an entirely forgettable schoolboy thriller – with the school’s mark on it. He had, he said, forgotten to return it when he had left the school five years ago. I thanked him for taking the trouble, but he still wouldn’t go. I waited. There was no point in hurrying him: he would say his piece when he wanted to. Then I was locking up, and he was still lingering beside me, looking worried and utterly woebegone. It was when I was about to leave that he finally blurted out, ‘Actually, sir, I didn’t forget that book, I…I sort of stole it!’ And then the whole thing came out in a rush: how he’d done it on a dare, and how his friends had praised him for it, and how he had forgotten about it for a while, and how the memory of what he had done had been bugging him more and more of late, until he had thought it fit to come five hundred miles to return the book…was it okay now? He was really ashamed and sorry…he just couldn’t make out how he could have been so silly…would I please not despise him for the rest of my life?

It takes all kinds, I know. I only wish they made more of the second kind, and gave less encouragement to the first.

[I wrote this years ago: what brought the essay back to my mind was a horrifying little item in today's newspaper. In connection with the boy who recently shot dead a classmate in a Delhi school, it now seems that his father not only left a gun lying around at home and had taught his son how to use it, but - as the father has confessed to the police (The Statesman, Sunday, December 16, 2007, front page) - he had actually advised his son to kill his 'enemy' and get rid of the trouble. What a country our children are growing up in!]


Arijit said...

The father is indeed a devil.Simply he does not know how to bring up a child.Briefly he is mad.

Sudipto Basu said...

I remember you telling us the incidents of the two boys who both stole books from the library, and yet how vastly they differed in their attitude towards life.

And talking about schoolboys wielding guns: it was merely a matter of time, I guess, before the gun-culture (incidentally, the psyche of the mafias-- shoot anything which stands in your way) reached the school. After all, hasn't everything in life have a shortcut?: so just shoot down your 'enemy' (this particular word shows how the new generation tends to blow up trivial things into gigantic proportions-- why else would one label a school-opponent an enemy?) if he's posing you a little bit of inconvenience!

What lends this matter a really serious tone is that parents are all for this type of gun-culture. Next thing we know is that certain shooter-boy getting angry with his father and shooting him down!! That'd be a great piece of poetic justice.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

I find it a great pity that so few people have yet seen fit to comment sensibly on such a serious issue: and even worse that not a single parent has commented at all!

Subhanjan said...

Humans are perhaps the strangest entity existing in this entire cosmos. One might argue that the "primordial egg" followed by the Big Bang was stranger. Or one might say that nanotechnology leaves thousands of questions unanswered. But believe me, no matter how strange a Black Hole is, a human is stranger.

Discovering a human being is an adventure that I try to go through on a day to day basis. I love to know about the people I come in contact with. No wonder I would always say, "GOD help the one sitting beside me in the bus. I'll be talking a LOT to him." And nothing can testify how varied human nature can be in a simpler way than what the two ruthlessly contrasting experiences sir had with two of his students. Such experiences deserve to be cherished. They have so much to teach.

It is indeed a matter of great regret and shame that a father 'made' his son 'kill' his rival. What makes this more pathetic is that, in this case, it was a 'child' who was advised by his dad to use a 'gun' to take revenge.

For the time being, let us leave aside such devastating realities. Let us ask ourselves these questions:

Are we better?

Is it not true that buying 'toy guns' for our kids an offence?

Is it not true that 'toy guns' may provoke kids to be violent and aggressive?

Why do we let our children watch programs like 'Power Rangers' and WWF Championships?

Is it not because because of programs like these that kids learn to 'kick' and 'punch'?

Do we not steal flowers and fruits from our neighbour's garden?

By doing so, do we stand as good examples for our children?

By skipping our night shifts at our industries, do we not teach our children to skip their classes?

By laughing and chatting loudly and indecently in public gatherings, do we not encourage our children to be equally indecent?

In spite of being married, when men try to cling to other women in parties, do they not encourage their boys to cling to and flirt with girls?

I have seen and heard 'grown-up' men salivate like dogs and utter uncouth and vulgar words among themselves at the sight of a beautiful girl or woman. Do they not encourage the young generation to disrespect, tease and rape girls?

Today, a group of poor people, shabbily dressed, were taking a ride in the subway train. And a woman standing beside me startled me by saying, "Ma go ma! Ki joghonno sob jinish uhteche!" Does this not encourage the young people to disrespect some humans just because they belong to the lower sections of the society?

These are our blunders that we are making every day and teaching our children the wrong things. And I believe, that in the long run, the cumulative effect of all these would be far darker and affect larger sections of our civilisation than what would happen if a father gives a gun to his son. The billions of fathers and mothers out there are doing several 'wrong' things each and every day; things that send the wrong message to their children. We are so "strange" – sinners who expect their offsprings to be saints! Aren't we really "strange"?

Shilpi said...

The first story I know about…I can’t help but wonder what happened to the first boy. Was he able to make amends, did he turn out to be a responsible human being, or did he end up being a callous, insensitive bulldozer. I can’t help but wonder…

What really made me sick me about the whole school-shooting incident was that some of the parents in an interview with the BBC were demanding 'higher security' in the school - without which they were 'threatening' the authorities to pull their children out. 'Higher security' in schools! It seems to me that these strange parents have no problems with students bringing guns 'if only' these students can be tracked down by a high-tech security system. Do they really not see the larger problem, here? Barely a week or two ago after yet another school shoot-out in the U.S (which did not receive an enormous amount of media attention) - two of us were telling my professor that 'gun violence' wasn’t there in schools in India, since there were stricter gun license laws!

The impact of media violence on children of course has been studied more than a fair bit by social scientists of the critical school (and sometimes they've beaten the issue to death)! However, I'm hardly convinced that the solution lies in curbing children from viewing violence or preventing children from viewing or reading what is now (in an attempt to be pseudo-intellectually politically correct) considered to be 'sexist' or 'racist' (I’ll leave out the rest of the stuff for now).
The real issue about teaching young people how to be discerning. It's about teaching young people how they can distinguish right from wrong.
I'm not implying that this is easy or that there's some simple solution. However, I certainly don't believe that preventing children from doing something is the answer. I was always told that cheating was wrong - never to be engaged in. It was only when I 'realised' why it was wrong that I was never tempted to cheat. Children should be taught to ask themselves and the adults around them why an action is wrong or right, good or bad. And of course here we can see where the problem lies. For the most part the adults don't have an answer - so the normal answer for every question is: do as you're told. There are certain situations where a very young child must be told and trained to do certain things – like using the potty for example. Yet after a while – I don’t think the answer lies in ‘telling’ children what to do and what not to do. The ‘why’ or the ‘why not’ must also be addressed – at least to the best of one’s ability, me thinks.
I’ll end this comment with a small personal observation. I have a friend here who grew up on the Northern farmlands. He’s known how to wield a gun ever since he was 12-ish – I have come across exceptionally few people in my life, who would match up to his sense of compassion, kindness, mindfulness and sense of responsibility for those around him and his environment...
Thank you Suvro da, for putting up the post.

Sudipto Basu said...

In reference with what both Subhanjan da and Shilpi di have stated, I'd like to write something more.

Firstly, let me try to reflect on Subhanjan da's comment. Again, I do agree mostly with what he has said (except for one thing: censorship of what a child should watch, beyond a certain age and time, of course!). I think he has most rightly observed that often quite seemingly small and trivial mistakes on the part of adults leave the wrong impressions on the minds of the young generation-- and the sad part is that most of the adults never realise how devastatingly wrong they've been. Try politely advising some man spitting on the road that he's wrong (I can say this because I've tried it several times): mostly the replies are outbursts of anger. No amount of logic can persuade these people to believe that it isn't really possible to keep the city clean unless each one of us are personally worried about it's cleanliness. Wonder what the next-generation folks learn from this kind of behaviour! And my example was a rather mild one compared with what the daddy of that murderer-boy taught his son! I don't think the man has still realised how wrong he has been. Same with the cases Subhanjan da mentioned..

Now, I'll come to Shilpi di's comment. I am in complete agreement with what she has said. We must decide for ourselves what to do and what not to: why should it be that everyone dictates the do's and do-not's for us all throughout our lives? Though the answer is not far to seek, I guess: it's finally the lack of individualism that is to blame for the lack of taking these vital decisions. No wonder that most people grow up to become pathetic clones of the same ordinary parents they were born to!

And again, I'm not for censorship of any kind in media: by and large, I think, people use the media as scapegoats for all the violence and wrong things happening all around us. If we can't decide for ourselves what we should watch and what we should avoid, I think censorship won't do any good. Finally everything comes to what we decide to do: nothing can really be screened from us and taught to us unless we are ready to abstain from it or embrace it. And my personal thanks to Shilpi di for mentioning her friend: such persons pleasantly surprise and enchant me!

P.S.-- And my apologies for a mistake in my previous post. '...hasn't everything in life have...' should be '...doesn't everything in life have...'.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

A newly-rich 50-year old monkey with a digital camera got mauled to death by two tigers at Guwahati zoo yesterday. I feel no pity for such creatures whatsoever: I only lament the fact that there are so many of them around these days (thanks to the ongoing economic boom) who harass or jeopardise or spoil the lives of so many others, including their own spouses and children! I cannot tell how many such parents I see in my own town (one fell off his scoooter right in front of my eyes while ferrying his two sons home from school, trying to answer his mobile phone while riding, to cite just one example): and they all bully and bribe their children into believing - or at least pretending to believe - that they always know best, simply because they are older!

Subhanjan said...

Indeed what a MONKEY that old fool was. When I read the news, I felt as if my own hand was not there with me. I felt so awful and terrified when I read the news. But that old fool, standing in front of a cage, dared to put his hands inside the cage. I feel so horrible when I try to realise the infinite magnitude of pain that this monkey felt when his hand was being ripped off. But at times I feel no pity for him. A man, who doesn't realise the minimum responsibility that a father and a husband must have, should not marry. I strictly believe this. And I also believe that a civilised society must have an elaborate process to judge a man and a woman before giving them the license to marry.

Anshu Singh said...

“It must be a work of love and understanding, and of humbleness for intruding with our presence in the silence and dignity of nature. That unquantifiable and elusive factor which is the beauty of the land, and our duty to respect it, is the aesthetic and spiritual principle foremost in my mind whenever I create anything.”

The above lines are from the book “I Dreamed of Africa” written by Kuki Gallmann.
Lately, I have come to realize one universal law – nature has been there for us to guide us through the path towards salvation. I think this feeling has been succinctly described in the above written lines.
But we humans, rather ignoring this beautiful gift of God, are constantly trying to become nature ourselves.
The vagaries of nature have now become the vagaries of humankind.

Materialism, violence, fickleness of human behavior, frailty, cynicism, whimsicalness and so on so forth….

I find myself very lucky to have realized this. This gives me a chance to do something worthwhile for myself and for my fellow human beings and for the GOD inside you and me. Maybe I will not be able to do anything “great” because I do not want to. It has to be small and hence beautiful. I think all the sayings of great men, like Rabindra Nath Tagore, are there present in all of us. We only have to open our eyes and think with an open mind. Then those sayings will not be their sayings but will be of all of us, as they are none other than us but are us.

Maybe we all can have a conversation on the above issues and help each other become better human beings. Hence make our life and the life of those around us, an enjoyable and spirited journey.

Anonymous said...

While the entire episode is indeed tragic, some of the statements, or rather, if I may say so, the generalizations, that have surfaced here seem a bit far-fetched to me.I'll try and explain what I have to say presently.

Firstly, the "inconveniences" of having to deal with a school bully, oafish seniors who had the sensitive equivalent of a battle-axe etc. etc. has always been there...so to speak...and I think most of us have had to "deal" with them (with varying degrees of success) at one point or the other.So,the only troubling development over here seems to be the manner in which it was settled (and not that there was a "rift" in the first place).So I cannot necessarily agree with Mr. Basu on the point that it was unnatural on the part of the boys to brand the victim as an "enemy"...these feelings ae quite all-pervasive at that age.It would not be proper to say that the motive was flawed...at the most it was childish.,which is why the crime itself was so terrible...this is no new-generational-phenomenon...Flashman vs. Tom Brown in "T.B's. School Days" was settled over a hall-fight and it's just a reflection of how "scores" were settled even then(1850 I think).If someone had told me to "turn the other cheek" at that age I would in all probability, ask him to go commit suicide for the sake of enduring sanity...

Secondly,I can't really agree again that the collective psyche of the entire countrywide parenthood needs a massive overhaul just because one of them didn't act responsibly enough.Different cities, different cultures will have differing approaches to solving a social problem...it's only when things cross the line that preventive (not just remedial) action needs to be taken.
(I'm at a very delicate position in a real-time strategy game right now,so I'm going to conclude here...)On a lesser note I'm not really surprised with the whole thing,essentially an offshoot of the American Crackpot Culture...I guess what really needs to be seriously evaluated is the tendency of all of us to emulate the cultural leftovers of predominating foreign cultures (that includes me as well..for a long time I thought abusing people was cool since it is cool in America).We have successfully imitated and moulded the stereotypic snobbery of the British aristocracy in the days of the Raj by having an uniquely stubborn bureaucracy ourselves.....we seem to have outdone the Americans in inculcating everything that's so wrong about the country while leaving out the good....well, for my part I'm going to be sensible and learn some exotic Chinese martial art form so that my kids don't throttle me in an inescapalbly uncomfortable and possibly fatal Shanghai-Underground-Judo lock when they grow older,because it's the Chinese who we're going to imitate next.


Ranajoy said...

I think, more than children, there ought to be a good deal of parental education(or rehabilitation courses), else the wrong parenting will be passed on like legacy to the generations to come. But the big question is will any parent come forward and say that he/she needs an education in the first place?

Anshu Singh said...

“Where are you looking for gold? Look at the sun-bathed fields!!! You will find your gold there.”
“Where are you looking for silver? Look at the moonlit river!!! You will find all the world’s silver to quench your thirst.”

There is not a single day, which passes by, without my consciously trying to notice the gifts of God. If that means, going against my education, the norms of the society, the so be it.

I closed my eyes and then there was darkness.
When I opened it, there were the pigeons gathering flight in the sky, the sun pouring down its gentle warmth on the fields, the buildings, the roads soothing the frozen soul of the earth.
I had a glimpse of god then and there.
How wonderful it would be if I could have that glimpse forever in front of your eyes, though YOU have given me the gift of memory. A memory that has been forever etched by the glimpse!!
Today I had no money, no food to eat.
Then You came in the form of a maid, who got some food for me from her house.
No food has been so fulfilling until now.
I can say of countless such moments where You came and helped me out.
That has been so many times and I cannot even remember when you abandoned me last.

I only hope that I have the same strength and passion to work with a pure heart.

The above is an excerpt of what i wrote in my diary.I wanted to share it with all of you good people.

Anshu Singh said...

The issue that is talked about in this thread is the most important issue, besides the misbalance of harmony between man and nature, which is staring right into our face.

Children-----our very own children are becoming the subject of our anguish, ridicule and uncertain future. Our children are getting out of control. That’s what they are saying.

Reasons behind this: - media related violence, sex, lots of money to spend, low moral fiber in the family to bind them to morality.

I would like to say that we are asking the wrong questions. So how can we get the right answers?
So let me pose a question to all.
If a person is told from his very childhood about
1) How to think independently?
2) Differentiate between good and bad. There is no such thing as a fixed rule governing this. It’s just by looking into your own soul, one can judge whether the act should be done or not. It does not take a scientist or a moral science class to tell that hurting other people physically or mentally is bad, as the net effect of the deed on the perpetrator himself/herself will be bad, let alone the victim. Media can play and has been playing a very good role in this. Common on, we all know that however bad a thing is, it will also produce something good. We can always turn the bad into good, and that’s where good teachers, parents are required.
3) Good parenting!!! Stop spawning unless you know that you can become a good parent. The first rule of parenting is to provide for the child, by provide I am including all ---- food, spiritual, intellectual, compassionate, adventurous and fearless attitude. The parent should know and take care that he/she has taken up the responsibility no less than what we give to GOD. So please do inculcate all the qualities of GOD within you become bringing another soul in our midst.
4) Let the child mix with his age group irrespective of the background to the kids. Give him the freedom to choose his friends and guide him from the outside. Talk to him, give him advices full of anecdotes, relate the real world with the magical world of fairies, demons, you know Raja Rani ki Kahaniyaan!!!

Everyone needs to have time for the above. But I see children of one “society” not allowed to mix with the other. Parents running helter and skelter with their money churning calculations and manipulations always in their mind.
The husband going out to fulfill his pocket filling duties.
The wives going out to fulfill the need of freedom which she has been denied for so many generations.

There is only I and I and I…everywhere. “Let’s first satiate our own needs first—freedom, social status, jumping from a middle class to an upper class section, attend page 3 parties, and on and on and on.
So the child is bound to take these things up.
The place were this type of attitude is not yet rampant, please be wary as it is only a lull before the storm.
It will not take much time for a West Bengal to become a Gurgaon unless we all WISE up

Anshu Singh said...

Movies,Music & Life
Are these three things correlated?

I will try to answer this question within my own limitations and experiences.

Firstly i will like to name a few movies
1) Pather Panchali by Satyajit Ray
2) Wild Strawberries by Ingmar Bergman
3) Eureka by Shinji Aoyama
4) Rashomon by Akira Kurosawa
5) The Bicycle Thief by Vittorio De Sica
6) New Cinema Paradise by Giuseppe Tornatore
7) It's a Wonderful Life by Frank Capra

The list is quite long and i think everybody has got the message of what kind of movies i am talking about.
Yes, i am talking about movies which have impacted me and my way of looking at the world.
Watching these movies was a completely holistic experience and was in a way my own way of celebrating Human Life and Emtions.
It has been as though THE HUMAN SOUL has been filmed by the motion picture camera. I have cried, laughed, got angry, sat at the edge of my seat, sang the mute song of life all along these movies.
As a matter of fact, i have so many things to write about them that i head is choking with words. It's hard to express the feeling these movies have aroused within me.
There is a very nice characteristic about all these movies. They use words only to accentuate the emotions shown by the characters only to magnify the effect manifold.
The crescendoes of the background music, the folk music move along as if the life of the characters is moving in the same wavy nature. Music matches the highs and lows of the persons life.
The smaller details, like in The Bicycle thief, where the elder son looks at his infant brother and then while going out with his father remembers to close the window, so as to keep the chill out. And he does it in midst of the excitement of getting to ride on a bicycle which is going to bring prosperity to his family and take away all their problems.
All i can say is that these movies have given me a new way of looking at this world, new way of feeling human emotions of myself as well as others.
i say they have sensitized me.They have given a better and wonderful meaning and reason to live.

See you all in a while with more on this and music.

Anshu Singh said...

Today as I was reading a few pages of the book I dreamed of Africa, I cam across a quotation

“ The real voyage of discovery does not consist in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”
Marcel Proust

It was not the first time I was reading it. I have been noticing these lines with different words but same meaning ever since I started growing up.
As always I kept on reading it again and again, trying to fathom the meaning of these words. Thoughts kept on replacing each other, each one laying its claim to be the answer.
I like these types of moments where I get to make my mind go through the process of playing games with itself. I sometimes feel like laughing at it. And when this feeling comes, I simply close my eyes to meditate on it. So this time was not different.

It was a sunny day, yesterday, so when I closed my eyes, I could see an orange colour in place of my eyelids. Gradually it faded to a pale crimson shade, which in turn gave way to pitch darkness. I was carried away to the lands of Africa, standing beside Kuki Gallmann, Paolo and Emmanuelle looking over at the Makutan, shiny golden beams emanating out of it as it devoured the sun. The lone tree standing on Paolo’s cliff, the rhinos, the snakes, the indigenous people of Africa, the low drone of planes, the pain, the joy, the sorrow, the courage and the life which is Africa itself --- I saw them all.

Eternity must have passed by when I slowly opened my eyes.

As soon as I opened my eyes, I saw a leopard walking stealthily over the railing, which divides the two blocks of human residence. My heart skipped a beat; all the air got sucked out of me at the mere sight of that leopard. Questions like where did it come from, what was it doing among us humans, why aren’t people running helter skelter, such a beauty, such a majestic and huge built!!!
All this happened in a split second.

After that second passed, I saw that it was a cat with a leopard skin.
No, such a fantastic sight of a leopard was not lost.

Then as I sat there noticing the antics and movement of the cat (the leopard), I knew what Marcel Proust meant when he said, “in having new eyes”.

It’s when you have them, you see with new admiration, new awe, and new respect. Everyday, every moment becomes a brand new one.

Sayan said...

So many middle class people of our country cry in unison that we are a free nation.
Cheating is at least in part invariably a result of fear (fear of failure for instance). How can there be freedom where there is fear?
A friend of mine working in a reputed software company tells me that many of his Colleagues often listen to FM stations and surf the net during office hours on the excuse that they too need a break from work. They keep their deeds hidden from their bosses of course(may be they even boast later that their boss couldn't catch them). These are the kind of people who claim how free and progressive India is.
What kind of freedom is that?
Sayan Datta.

Sayan said...

So many middle class people of our country cry in unison that we are a free nation.
Cheating is at least in part invariably a result of fear (fear of failure for instance). How can there be freedom where there is fear?
A friend of mine working in a reputed software company tells me that many of his Colleagues often listen to FM stations and surf the net during office hours on the excuse that they too need a break from work. They keep their deeds hidden from their bosses of course(may be they even boast later that their boss couldn't catch them). These are the kind of people who claim how free and progressive India is.
What kind of freedom is that?
Sayan Datta.

Ankan said...

A lot has been said in the list of comments about numerous social shortcomings, about how children should be allowed to learn themselves , and even the mentality of middle class people. I don't think I can possibly add much more, I would just like to make a few confessions and observations.
Many people say rage comes naturally to me. At different points of time during my school and undergrads, I have been consumed with such an enormous amount of rage that things could have gone out of hand. I really must emphasize that for each such case of gun running that you hear there would be atleast a hundred cases of which you didn't hear of just because of the unavailability of guns. In this pretext, the stricter gun license laws of India are definitely a more secure and comforting scenario.
There have been times of course when I realized that I should be more tolerant and shouldn't attempt to hurt somebody just because i feel abominable rage towards him. But to make anybody (and not only children) learn such stuff I feel is practically impossible. Most of us are timid and insecure by nature to the extent that a gun makes one feel powerful and superior compared to our fellow human beings. Tolerance is a virtue and you can't expect a lot of it in the herds, just as you can't expect any other quality in a herd of people. When you have someone posing an obstacle on your path and a gun in your hand, the natural and easy instinct is always to blow the brains away. It depends on what decision we take that defines us, and you cannot expect the majority of people to take anything but the easy path out.
Education may help make us ponder, but ultimately it's again the kind of human beings we are that decides our decision.ironically expecting the majority of people to act in a tolerant and humane way would be foolishness. I might be sounding pessimistic, but I guess I am just trying to be rational.
Personally I have thought about this issue a lot and somehow I can never find any solution through a collective approach. If each of us makes an active effort to take the correct decision, irrespective of the fact that he/she stops being part of the herd, then I guess things could be better. But that again, I imagine, is asking too much.