Bracing Yourself for the Jolt Factor

Bracing Yourself Jolt Factor _shutterstock_24814552

There is a place in a man’s body that is known as the J-Spot. It is more pronounced in a man than in a woman, I think, and, unlike the G-Spot, has far-reaching and lethal consequences. But, ooooh, if someone touches that spot in a person, it would send jolts so strong it would reverberate through his nerves, shatter his mental frame, and set his emotions aflame.

I have taken a long holiday from my workplace in Dubai and returned as a guest teacher at my old school where I had served as vice principal about 25 years ago.

Last evening, Chris, a student in 12th grade, came to my room and showed me his clean-shaven scalp. This was the second time he was showing me his pate in the last two days.

‘What happened to your tattoo?’ I asked him.

‘The principal saw it and he told me not to enter the campus until I removed it.’

He said it with a forlorn look like that of a kid who had lost a cherished marble.

Chris had an intricate tattoo tonsured through his close-cropped hair by his barber a few days earlier. I was one of the first persons he showed it to, bowing his head with pride to reveal the mystic design on his scalp. The top of his head appeared to me like a miniature version one of the cornfields in UK where crop circles appear overnight from nowhere.

When I first saw it, it gave me a mild jolt. But by now I have grown seasoned enough to deal with the Jolt Factor before it affects my J-Spot. In fact, after seeing Chris with his new look a couple of times, I have sort of come to like it on him.

But the principal had his J-Spot jolted and he was fuming. And the only way Chris could remove the J-Factor and stay on campus was to clean-shave his scalp.

‘Don’t let it bother you too much’, I tried to console him. ‘In about two weeks’ time your head won’t be shining so much.’

Many good things in life are at first impression, or first smell, or first taste, revolting. Blue cheese stank like putrefied lizard when my nostrils first encountered it. Now it’s among my favorite delicacies. At first, my long hair drew catcalls from my village bumpkins in the early 70s; ten years later I had short hair and the bumpkins were wearing long flowing hair. Their J-Spot had been jabbed so often by the sight of ‘hippies’ – the generic name in our land in those days for people who didnt visit the barber every month – coming down from the cities that the locals became desensitized to the phenomenon, even to the point they themselves began embracing on their head what they had once winced at on others.

‘First whiskies seem revolting; first Shakespeare sonnets seem meaningless; first Bach fugues a bore; first differential equations sheer torture. But in due course, contact with an obscurely beautiful poem, an elaborate piece of counterpoint, or of mathematical reasoning, causes us to feel direct intuitions of beauty and significance.’   Sidney Piddington

Accepting the Jolt Factor often turns out to be like a fantasy ride on a futuristic space ship. You are about to land on an alien planet with strange and uneven terrain, and the ship can land only with a heavy screeching jolt. But once you brace yourself for the impact, and it passes through you, you see the door opening and a most fascinating vista beyond it beckoning you to explore and enjoy it.


Pappa Joseph




Are You Afraid of the Fourice?

My former company driver was also our mailman. He communicated with his colleagues in a language that was half pidgin English and half what sounded like pigeon talk. That day he had been extra busy taking bundles of magazines to the post office.

‘How many times did you go to the post office today to mail the magazines?’ I asked him at the end of the day. ‘Twice? Thrice?’

‘Fourice’, he answered without batting a hair of his brow.

I was speechless for a few seconds – first, at the crassness of his usage, secondly, at the novelty of the word, and then suddenly at the wonderful discovery of a usage that opened up to me a whole new and limitless set of beneficial words.

Photo of the actual person who first used the word 'fourice' and who thereby introduced me to a whole new series of English words.

Photo of the actual person who first used the word ‘fourice’ and who thereby introduced me to a whole new series of English words.

English usage is one of the most sensitive subjects on this planet. Nothing on earth, for example, will ever persuade the British to sacrifice their u’s in their colours and their parlours, and the Americans would recoil at the thought of doubling the l’s in their traveling and labeling. But to accommodate their cousins across the Atlantic Ocean, the British, on the initiative of the Oxford editors, agreed among themselves to have at least one word in their vocabulary changed from a double ‘l’ to a single ‘l’. So, they chose ‘enroll’ and made its official spelling with one ‘l’: enrol. It was a most generous concession – considering the British’s affection for the extraneous letter – a friendly gesture to the concise-minded Americans.

Now, the goodwill vibes somehow traversed the ocean and reached the American shores. So around the same time the British were thinking about sacrificing an ‘l’ for their cousins, the Americans were having the same accommodative thoughts about the British.

The lexicographers, led by Noah Webster, gathered together and decided to dedicate one word in honor of their cousins. And from among the hundreds of thousands of choices before them, guess which word they finally agreed upon? Enrol. So the Americans, as a token of honor to their highly-lettered cousins across the ocean, accepted to carry the burden of an extra ‘l’ in their enroll.

It was only when the latest editions of the Webster and Oxford dictionaries appeared in the market did both the nations realize their O Henry kind of situation. Too late to recall their national lexicographs from the market, they let the words remain as they were in their respective dictionaries to this very day.

Which is why in the United Arab Emirates new students have to enroll in the American schools while in the institutions that follow the British curriculum they need to just enrol. (Maybe someone could make a film out of this episode in Anglo-American relations, and title it ‘American History XL’.*)

Noah Webster

Noah Webster

I have digressed a lot. Coming back to fourice, many a time in my writing life I have been stumped by the deficiency in the English vocabulary and the inefficiency in English usage. Consider this sentence, for example:

‘Parenting begins long before your precious child is conceived in the womb of his or her mother. And the kind of parent you have been to him or her long before he or she was born affects your child long after his/her birth.’

Have the British or the American grammarians, lexicographers, etymologists and linguists ever found a solution to their ugly language usages typified by the example above. They haven’t in the last half a millennium, and they arent going to for many centuries more.

It is not just deformed usages that our language authorities are guilty of overlooking. Superfluity is another of their lapses.

‘A good portion of the grain stacked in the public godowns are socked with rat urine. Every time you cook rice, you should take extra care to rinse it, not the usual twice or thrice recommended in the cookbooks, but at least four or five times to be assured it’s thoroughly cleansed of the vermin’s nuisance.’

Until my encounter with the pidgin English user, I would have let that sentence leave my editorial desk unchanged. Now, if I were to edit or write a similar sentence I would boldly do away with the prosaic word ‘times’ and just ‘ice’ the numbers. Efficient, sensible, logical, and economical – less two superfluous words.

Recently, I went for a prostate checkup. When the urologist asked me how many times I visited the bathroom in the night, I answered him, ‘at least thrice or fourice’.

‘What?’ uttered the befuddled doctor.

‘I mean, three or four times’. I knew from the look on his face the doctor wasnt ready for the ice thing yet.

‘I think you are going to need a prostate operation’, he answered.

Today, as I write this, I am minus a big chunk of my prostate, but I have been compensated with a much bigger hunk of an addition in my English usage – fourice, fivice, sixice…ad infinitice.


Pappa Joseph 


* American History X is one of the most unforgettable films produced in that country, depicting the chain-reaction of violence spawned by racism.




An Imperial Legacy of Idiotic English

An-Imperial-Legacy-1 One of the starting motivators for writing my book ‘Idiotic English and Idiomatic English’ – the first little pebble that rolled from the mountaintop of my musings, which set off bigger pieces until the avalanche of boulders was unstoppable till I reached the last word of this book – was a signboard I saw in my once British governed hometown. Ever since I read what was written on it – ‘Sewing Machines – All Are Repairing Here’ – I have been suffering, for 25 years now, from sporadic attacks of imagery in which a dozen or so sewing machines, each bent over an abused portion from one of their own kith, are busily repairing it, all the while exchanging naughty jokes among themselves, as most clumps of workers in confined workshops in my part of the world are prone to do.

Since then, I have seen far greater evidence of my people’s colonial legacy of idiotic English that only unempathetic imperialist teachers could have been responsible for – they to whom idiomatic English flowed out of their mouths as easily as mother milk flowed in once, while they themselves amused one another with ever newer creations of idiosyncratic expressions which eventually was officially enforced as ‘idiomatic’ English in the curriculum of the colonial schools, but which only served to further confound, confuse and contort the tender language sensibilities of obliging local learners of the language. Idiomatic English is but idiotic English widely impressed on impressionable minds.

But patience was shown its limits at least on some rare occasions of bold resistance. I recall my mother proudly narrating the story of how the Maharaja of Cochin (who reigned during my grandparents’ days) once hired the services of a sahib (‘white man’) tutor. The lessons went smoothly enough, until the tutor unwisely taught his majesty that ‘put’ was pronounced as it is still pronounced today and ‘cut’ was pronounced as it is still idiotically pronounced today. No way, insisted the maharaja. If p-u-t is poot, then c-u-t is coot, he rightly reasoned. The sahib kept insisting it was not so…until the king lost his patience and the tutor…oh no, the tutor didn’t lose his head, that decision could be made only by the British governor of the state; moreover, kings in our land were not as prone to take people’s heads off as the kings of England enjoyed doing to their subjects, and the subjects of France enjoyed doing to their kings, as our school history books say. The tutor was just hustled out of the royal court and forbidden to enter the palace from that day on.

Kerala Varma Maharaja of Kochi (1870 - July 1948), popularly known as Aikya Keralam Thampuran or Kerala Varma VII was the Maharaja of Cochin who ruled between 1946 and 1947. He made a clarion call and through his patriotism defied the diktats of the imperialist rulers, even at the threat of dethronement.

Kerala Varma Maharaja of Kochi (1870 – July 1948), popularly known as Aikya Keralam Thampuran or Kerala Varma VII was the Maharaja of Cochin who ruled between 1946 and 1947. He made a clarion call and through his patriotism defied the diktats of the imperialist rulers, even at the threat of dethronement.

Sometimes idiotic expressions are put to perpetual desolation by indignant locals. One white colonial teacher told his rows of gibbering adult students that they could talk the hind legs off a donkey. Donkeys were not in the same divine class as brahmin heifers, but donkeys were a venerated genre nevertheless. One or two village idiots scratched their heads. Then the gibbering stopped, replaced by a menacing calm. For many of the recruited learners of the King’s English, attending the night classes on the incentive of being eligible for extra rations of the whiteman’s roti, had reached the grade where they could sufficiently understand what ‘hind legs’ and what ‘off’ and what ‘donkey’ meant. Pandemonium ensued, and it was only the intervention of the farmer who supplied his goat’s milk to the teacher every morning that saved the King’s English user from having at least his hind limbs torn off him.

In this living stream of communications, it’s time we took up the sieving pans for ourselves, probe through the murky waters and fling the ugly verbal lumps of dead algae gently over the fence back into the Englishman’s compound, while pocketing the glowing nuggets. If we do that we will within a generation or so be left with a clarified and crystal pure stream of language flowing through our own lands, and from which we can gurgle and gulp living waters of delight any time we want.


Pappa Joseph




The Supreme Gift For Your Child’s Education


Do you remember at least two of the main history lessons you learned in Grade 6? Or the molecular structure of ethyl alcohol that you chemistry teacher took so much pain to teach you in Grade 8? Or yet, the five kinds of Interrogative Pronoun that your English miss instilled in your teenage brain? I don’t, and I think most of you reading this dont either. The only knowledge from school that has stood me in good stead in my adult life is learning to read, write and count. Everything else, I mean literally everything else, has served me no purpose at all in my job search and career development.

But the way our primary school teachers and our parents put their whole being into ensuring that we did remember them – by means of tests, exams, grueling homework, and punishments – it did seem to us at that time that if we didnt remember those historical facts, dates, formulas, and grammatical technicalities, we were doomed for an adult life of failure in a rat-eat-cat world.

I regret to say this: most of those teachers who believed a student’s success lay in mastering schoolbook facts and formulas have continued to remain in the same station in their professional lives as they were when they taught us those now-forgotten lessons. How many of them have risen out of their current workpit to go on to become well-respected educationists in their community or country, or set up reputable institutions themselves? A very few have, but the overwhelming majority of them remained in their mediocre station in life, continuing to pass on quickly-forgotten knowledge each year to a new batch of young vulnerable minds.

It’s not just that what children learn in their schoolhood is forgotten within a few years after they bid farewell to their alma mater; many of the lessons they learn as immutable facts of life today become obsolete by the time they begin their lives as professionals. The grammar rules and language usage lessons become obsolete (the idiocy of English usage as taught in schools is one reason I have included the section ‘Change Your English, Change The World‘ in this website, for promoting reformation in this language), the methodologies and technologies are replaced with more innovative processes, insights and solutions that seemed so revolutionary and effective are condemned as inadequate and even dangerous as newer understanding is gained.

So what can you as a parent do to give your child a schoolhood that will continue to be an influential factor all his or her adult life? It’s a profound subject I will continue to cover in this site.

But let me say this now: above all else, instead of focusing on the knowledge that your child is forced to feed on in school today, put your whole mind into ensuring that he or she acquires a love of learning, and a desire and ability to acquire knowledge on their own.

You do it by leading them to interesting experiences; by spending time with them, not by just helping them do homework but by hobbying with them; by never rebuking them for missing facts in textbooks, but praising them for any skill or knowledge they gained on their own through your encouragement and guidance. That’s the supreme gift you can give them during their school days.

May your children whom you are now encouraging to love learning and acquire knowledge by themselves, fondly remember in their adulthood how wisely you had laid the foundation for them to not only acquire the knowledge and skills for their success in life, but more importantly, to gain the true understanding of how to be a great parent and spouse themselves.


Pappa Joseph




When You Should Ignore the Counsel of Parenting Experts


In all relationships, except one, you have to grow in love over the years. When a young man falls in love with a woman, that love is only a small fraction of the bond that he will have for her when she is his wife. In fact, their love for each other doesnt reach full bloom until years after they first met.

Frankly, when I fell in love with my wife, I sincerely believed I loved her so much I couldnt love her more. 35 years later we feel that our love in the first decade of our relationship was just a tiny grain of emotion compared to what we feel for each other now.

But that’s not how we feel about our children. We feel that we have always loved them to totality from the first day they entered our lives.

You see, parent’s love is instinctive. Especially mother’s. You dont have to teach a new mother how to love her child. The moment she beholds the pinkish piece of newborn life beside her, her whole being swells with tenderness and an overriding desire to protect her child at any cost. The love is full blown and complete from the very first day.

So Whoever placed that instinctive love within her, can certainly be expected to place within her the basics of caring for her child too.

A mother knows by instinct what’s best for her child in the core areas of the little one’s life. And if there are areas where she is not so knowledgeable about, her mother – the child’s grandma – pitches in with her own experience. That’s why grandparents should be such a vital part of parenting life.

Earlier generations of parents didn’t have a Baby & Child Care book to guide them, but they brought up a finer breed of citizens worldwide than what we generally come across today, despite the hosts of modern sychologists counseling them in every city.

I have seen, to the grief of my heart, pediatricians and childcare specialists strongly advising parents to condone certain habits in children (such as ‘playing’ with oneself), which if continued through the teen and young adulthood years, would surely turn their future marital relationship into a flaccid one.

I have mentioned this incident in another message, but let me narrate it again. At a recent parenting forum, a female child sychologist representing a highly esteemed child counsel center explained that an adolescent releasing his sexual tension was like a person soothing the area where a mosquito bit him. It is natural and not to be discouraged, she advised. One mother, who was sitting beside me, on hearing this, exclaimed, ‘What nonsense!’. Thank God for the maternal instinct.

These experts are excellent when prescribing what’s best for your child’s colic or fever, but oftentimes proffer deadly advice when it comes to your family’s moral values. There are exceptions of course, as rare as white ravens. If you know of such exceptional counselors anywhere, do let me know, and I will promote their services free through this website. They deserve it, being such a rare breed in their profession.

So when it comes to the essentials of caring for your child, trust your instincts more than the worldly counsel of child specialists. Heed their medical counsel as long as you innately know it doesn’t conflict with your Nature-given maternal feelings.

I hope that you, in choosing a parenting counselor for yourself, will find one who believes there are spiritual laws that supersede all the teachings they have acquired from the world’s materialistic, Creator-denying universities.


Pappa Joseph




The Wonder Years With Your Child


The wonder years of a child are those years in his life when everything new he encounters is a wonder experience for him. A new object, a new face, a new place, a new shape…the child is wholly fascinated by the sight, sound and feel of it. The wonder years starts from the time he is able to perceive the world around him – which he could from infancy – to about the beginning of the teen years. At teenage, the boy or girl enters another phase of life when they begin to discover the wonders of puberty and teenhood, and their wonderment at natural phenomena wanes.

The parent who uses the precious wonder years to guide and enhance their child’s fresh experiences of the world lays an excellent foundation for their son or daughter to continue enjoying the wonders of life and nature beyond childhood and into adulthood.

A sense of wonderment along with a sense of keen humor (not to be confused with the ability to be humorous) is among life’s very special blessings for those who have them. These two dispositions make one’s daily living colorful and cheerful. There is no room for boredom or monotony for the person who never ceases to wonder at God’s creation being replayed daily in nature’s various phenomena. Every time he beholds a new flower or scents a new fragrance, his sense of astonishment at the marvel of creation swamps his heart and he can’t help but burst out in praises to God for yet another amazing facet of his handiworks.

I have already mentioned in my book on parenting (see books section) about the benefits of exposing even the child in the womb to positive external stimuli by mom exposing herself to pleasant experiences during pregnancy.

When the child is born and his eyes and ears slowly learn to focus on objects and sounds, put colorful objects within sight of the baby. Beautiful music, melodious and uplifting, may be played for a little while in the background when the child is awake and in a playful mood. Don’t play music continually, or too often in a day, for music heard too long can be torturous even to adult ears.

When the child is old enough to handle objects, place childsafe objects of different shapes and colors within his reach.

Take your baby outdoors at least once daily, if possible. If there’s a park nearby, walk under the trees and among the plants and let your offspring’s eyes soak in the wonders around him. Point out a new creature – a cat, a bug, a bird. Show leaves and flowers at close quarters, so baby can learn to observe the marvel of design in nature.

As the child grows older, the parent should provide opportunities for his or her sense of wonderment to grow correspondingly in diversity and intensity. The mere color and shape of a leaf gives way to the sheer diversity of the plant kingdom. Simple handling of objects now becomes nimble molding of shapes with clay or sand. Generic music listening advances to specific musical preferences.

When your child is about three or four, take him on your shoulders outside the house on a star-spangled night. And there in the dark, point to the constellations above and show him for the first time in his life the twinkling wonders.

In the years my two sons and my daughter were growing up from childhood to teenhood before my very eyes, I have never got back the opportunity to speak to them the words that I had postponed speaking to them; I never once got back the opportunity to touch and hold their hands when I had thought I would hold them a little later when I was just done with a particular urgent work I was doing then; in all those years of parenting my children, I never once got back the chance to look again at the same facial expressions which longed to have my attention and speak to me.

Oh, yes, I did get the chance to speak and touch, and see many facial expressions at other times. But the ones I missed were unique. I long for them now, but I know I have lost them forever.

If I were a young parent again, every time my little child’s head pops up at my desk, while I am deeply engrossed in an important project work, instead of telling him I cannot come with him now to see that butterfly he discovered, I will sleep my computer and rush out with my five-year old child to see that new wonder in his life.

These wonder years in your child, this fascination in his eyes for everything you show him, or do with him, alas, lasts for so short a time that even before you could provide a fraction of the wonder experiences you had initially planned for your child, the years are forever gone, and you have now a self-willed tween staring back at you and wanting to go his or her own way.

The wonder years are so fleeting you need special help from God to fully redeem these years. Therefore, before your child’s wandering years begin, and your wondering time starts, may God help you to redeem every single day of the wonder years with your little son or daughter.


Pappa Joseph




Great Leaders Over Their Nations But Failures In Their Homes

‘Coronation of David’ in the Paris Psalter. David was a great king, and a greater failure as a father.

Among the greatest leaders mentioned in the Bible are also the greatest failures as fathers. That seems like an impossible paradox. How can a man be a faithful and effective leader to millions of his people, while he has utterly failed as a father and a husband in his home? But the strangeness of truth is that such paradoxes do happen commonly.

I haven’t taken a count yet, but it seems to me that there are more failed fathers and husbands among the Bible heroes than there are those who have successfully parented their children and happily spoused their wives.

The greatest failure as a father and a husband in the Bible is, in my opinion, King David. Is there any other leader whose many sons all turned out to be failures? The one seeming exception, Solomon, was an exception only in his younger days, for in old age he too became unfaithful. Worse, he fathered children who were even greater failures than his brothers.

The second greatest failure as a father, among the Bible greats, is Samuel. This man is so great in God’s sight that he is one of the two persons (the other is Moses) given special mention by God.

‘The Lord said to me: Even if Moses and Samuel were here, praying with you, I wouldn’t change my mind.’1

Now let’s hear what the Bible says about the outcome of Samuel’s parenting ways.

‘Samuel had two sons. The older one was Joel, and the younger one was Abijah. When Samuel was getting old, he let them be leaders at Beersheba. But they were not like their father. They were dishonest and accepted bribes to give unfair decisions. One day the nation’s leaders came to Samuel at Ramah and said, “You are an old man. You set a good example for your sons, but they haven’t followed it. Now we want a king to be our leader, just like all the other nations. Choose one for us!” ’2

The failure of Samuel as a father was the direct cause of Israel’s desiring a human king and rejecting God who had been directly reigning over his people and administering his justice through human ‘judges’ he appointed in each generation. Samuel was the last judge of Israel, the last representative of Israel’s theocracy – only because this great man did not have one good son to succeed him.

‘Samuel was upset to hear the leaders say they wanted a king, so he prayed about it. The Lord answered: Samuel, do everything they want you to do. I am really the one they have rejected as their king.’

Samuel’s childhood guardian, Eli, although not mentioned as a great leader, was nevertheless the judge over Israel prior to Samuel. His failure as a father caused the death of his two sons, which brought a tragic end to his own life.4

As in ancient Israel, many leaders in the present generation are so assiduously engaged in leading their people in governments and businesses that they don’t realize their home life is being seriously eroded.

Their children are bearing the brunt of paternal neglect, their wives are secretly sorrowing. And someone or something will have to give way in the family lives of such leaders sooner or later.

About three years ago I read of that greatest of evangelical celebrities, Benny Hinn’s divorce. A few months after his wife left him, Benny Hinn said on his show ‘This is your Day’, he was oftentimes ‘caught up with the ministry’ so much so that he forgot about his family.

‘I’ve made mistakes because I wasn’t the perfect husband and the perfect dad because I was always gone traveling the world,’ he remorsed. ‘That’s probably what broke the whole thing up.’

Hinn then told his viewers ‘not to neglect your family’, saying that the call of God should first touch the family.

Then recently the couple were reconciled, and I heard Hinn declaring on his show: “I always thought that it was God first, then his ministry, and then my family. Now I realize that it is God first, my family second, and then God’s work.”

Benny Hinn is fortunate to have a reconciliation with his family and the realization of the priorities in a minister’s life. But the tragedy is, too many other leaders have not realized what Hinn had to discover painfully. Too many of them are unintentionally causing great harm to their children’s syche. Too many of them are divorcing or having a bitter marriage. I could give many examples, but don’t think that is necessary. You could easily come across the stories of the tragic family lives of many greats in both the religious and secular worlds by an online search.

If a man desires to be a leader over a nation or a corporation, he should first prove his capability and earnestness by the way he rules his own household. This is a principle that applies even to those who seek a position of responsibility in the religious sphere.

‘It is true that anyone who desires to be a church official wants to be something worthwhile. That’s why officials must have a good reputation and be faithful in marriage. They must be self-controlled, sensible, well-behaved, friendly to strangers, and able to teach. They must not be heavy drinkers or troublemakers. Instead, they must be kind and gentle and not love money. Church officials must be in control of their own families, and they must see that their children are obedient and always respectful. If they don’t know how to control their own families, how can they look after God’s people?’5

So, leader, or aspiring leader, how faithful and successful have you been in the greatest aspect of your leadership – bringing up your children to become great parents themselves, and being a great husband to the woman you married?


Pappa Joseph 


1 Jeremiah 15:1
2 1 Samuel 8:1-5
3 1 Samuel 8:6-7
4 1 Samuel chapters 1-4
5 1 Timothy 3:1-5




Becoming A Leader Who Is Great In the Sight of Man and God

There have been leaders who were great in the sight of man but not in God’s, and leaders who were great in God’s sight but not man’s, and there have been leaders who were great in both God’s and man’s sight.

In the third category are people from all faiths and nations, who have served their nations and missions without compromising on their conscience towards God.

Dwight David Eisenhower, 1947, Oil on canvas by Thomas Edgar Stephens. As the general who led the Allies to victory in Europe during World War II, Dwight D. Eisenhower enjoyed a postwar popularity that inspired thoughts in many quarters of running him for the presidency. But the much-revered "Ike," with his politically potent grin, did not initially want the office, and it was not until 1952 that Republicans finally prevailed upon him to seek it. After Eisenhower left the White House in 1961, many political commentators indicated that they had not been especially impressed with this immensely popular President's performance. In time, however, Eisenhower's presidential ratings have risen, in the face of increasing appreciation for his sound fiscal policies and efforts to promote peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union while still maintaining a strong posture against its threatened aggressions. Eisenhower was serving as chief of staff of the United States Army when he sat for this portrait. As the general who had led the Allies to victory in Europe during World War II, he was, like many military heroes before him, inspiring much talk about his White House potential.

Dwight David Eisenhower, 1947, Oil on canvas by Thomas Edgar Stephens. As the general who led the Allies to victory in Europe during World War II, Dwight D. Eisenhower enjoyed a postwar popularity that inspired thoughts in many quarters of running him for the presidency. But the much-revered “Ike,” with his politically potent grin, did not initially want the office, and it was not until 1952 that Republicans finally prevailed upon him to seek it. After Eisenhower left the White House in 1961, many political commentators indicated that they had not been especially impressed with this immensely popular President’s performance. In time, however, Eisenhower’s presidential ratings have risen, in the face of increasing appreciation for his sound fiscal policies and efforts to promote peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union while still maintaining a strong posture against its threatened aggressions. Eisenhower was serving as chief of staff of the United States Army when he sat for this portrait. As the general who had led the Allies to victory in Europe during World War II, he was, like many military heroes before him, inspiring much talk about his White House potential.

Please note that being ‘a great leader’ should not be equated with being a leader over a great organization or a nation. It is not greatness of position in the government or corporate world that this message is about, but greatness of stature and character of the person who is the leader. A man in great position need not necessarily be a wise leader.

‘Great men are not always wise, nor do the aged always understand justice’, said a great man in the sight of God and man.’

A great leader can be an official in an unknown department of a government office, or a school teacher, or a village physician, or a grocery owner. The great leaders in little positions in life are qualitatively just as great in the degree of stature as the great men who lead large organizations or nations. This principle is clearly validated in a parable by the great Teacher.

‘It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same…After a long absence, the master…came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: “Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner”. The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: “Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.” ’

The men in the parable, although one was given a greater amount of money, were both rewarded equally.

Whether you are a current leader in government or business or in a profession, or a young person aspiring to a position of leadership in the national or corporate sphere or just in your community, you may find the following insights helpful in your pursuit of leadership that is truly ‘great’ in the sight of all.

The great leader will prove to his followers, above everything else about his leadership, that he is absolutely faithful to his people in every circumstance. He will be the last to leave a sinking ship (unlike what happened at the disaster of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia a year ago, as I write this, in which 32 passengers lost their lives; the captain was charged with abandoning incapacitated passengers), whether a literal oceanliner or an enterprise that spans across the oceans, and if there is still a single person left on the deck unrescued, he will disregard the safety of his own life to save that person over whom he is the leader. Would you?

A leader who is great in every other quality but somewhat shaky in his faithfulness to his cause and his people, is less than a mediocre leader. Faithfulness is the single greatest quality for true greatness in leadership. In fact, without faithfulness as the supreme quality of his character,  a man cannot even enter true leaderhood.

Faithfulness is known in the corporate world also as ‘commitment’. And a vital aspect of commitment is the leader’s commitment to providing his followers with a sense of security for their lives. People are not cast off when they do not become necessary for the profitability of the organization anymore. The leader remains faithful to them. I think no other corporate leader has done it as effectively as Herb Kelleher, CEO of Southwestern Airlines. Kelleher has been called perhaps the best CEO in America by Fortune magazine. Here’s what he’s says about his employees:

‘Our most important tools for building employee partnership are job security and a stimulating work environment. Our union leadership has recognized that we provide job security, and there hasn’t been a lot of that in the airline industry. Certainly there were times when we could have made substantially more profits in the short term if we had furloughed people, but we didn’t. We were looking at our employees’ and our company’s longer-term interests. And, as it turns out, providing job security imposes additional discipline, because if your goal is to avoid layoffs, then you hire very sparingly. So our commitment to job security has actually helped us keep our labor force smaller and more productive than our competitors’.

That quote is from the most influential article I have ever read on corporate leadership and corporate strategy. It gives vital, indispensable insights on management and leadership that no aspiring leader can afford to miss. If you haven’t read it yet, you may access it by typing in ‘A Culture of Commitment’ in the search box at

In contrast to Kelleher’s statement, ‘Certainly there were tines when we could have made substantially more profits in the short term if we had furloughed people, but we didnt’, another statement, that I saw in the media while preparing this message, says, ‘Panasonic to lay off 5,000 employees’.

The Japanese firm said that the people were being cast out of their premises because ‘the move aims at boosting operating profit margin to a minimum of 5 percent over the coming 3 years through lowering labor costs’.

Panasonic, however, was not founded on their present corporate principles. Its founder’s statement still reads: ‘Recognizing our responsibilities as industrialists, we will devote ourselves to the progress and development of society and the wellbeing of people through our business activities, thereby enhancing the quality of life throughout the world’.

Somewhere along the global path of their progress, someone at the helm got a better idea (the company’s slogan is ‘Ideas for Life’), and he decided the best way to devote themselves to the progress of society and the wellbeing of people was to increase their profit margin by laying off employees.

If anyone reading this message knows someone at the top of that company, perhaps you may want to send him a message telling him that the only way a company can perpetually continue to function with profit is by being faithful to their employees. Or you may refer him to this message.

Unfaithfulness to employees in the corporate world, as in corporal affairs, may provide a shortterm benefit of increased profits, but eventually end in bitterness of business.

During his tenure as CEO of Southwest, Kelleher's colorful personality created a corporate culture which made Southwest employees well known for taking themselves lightly - often singing inflight announcements to the tune of popular theme songs - but their jobs seriously. Southwest has never had an in-flight fatality. Southwest is consistently named among the top five Most Admired Corporations in America in Fortune magazine's annual poll. Fortune has also called him perhaps the best CEO in America.

During his tenure as CEO of Southwest, Kelleher’s colorful personality created a corporate culture which made Southwest employees well known for taking themselves lightly – often singing inflight announcements to the tune of popular theme songs – but their jobs seriously. Southwest has never had an in-flight fatality. Southwest is consistently named among the top five Most Admired Corporations in America in Fortune magazine’s annual poll. Fortune has also called him perhaps the best CEO in America.

The second greatest quality needed for greatness in the sight of God and man is mercy.

Mercy is perhaps the most overlooked, the most absent quality in corporate leadership. The policy of Herb Kelleher, not to furlough employees when business is low, is actually mercy in action. Mercy is applicable in innumerable situations daily in the workplace. For the present message, I can only mention a few instances where you can apply mercy.

An employee who is late for work often, or slow of work; instead of taking punitive action, you do your best to go to the heart of the cause for the employee’s apparent tardiness or sloppiness. A worker who messed up a job because he did not adhere closely to your instructions. A follower who backbit you or your organization, or who acted against company policy and did something that could potentially harm you or your organization. This last instance is perhaps where the true depth of mercy is revealed in a leader. It is here that leaders fail the most – they usually fire the one who put them in a dire situation, instead of sitting down with the ‘betrayer’ and finding out what really caused such behavior from one of their employees or followers.

I know of more than one case, where, had the CEO just sat down once with his ‘traitor’ and had a heart to heart talk with him, and listened to his version of what happened, the leader would have acted differently, instead of forever terminating the employee’s association with the organization.

Hear what one of the wisest leaders in history says on the subject of taking to heart everything negative a person hears about those under him.

‘No one in this world always does right. Don’t listen to everything that everyone says, or you might hear your servant cursing you. Haven’t you cursed many others?’3

The third most vital quality for greatness of character is compassion.

A leader who has compassion for his followers comes down from his high office to the floor level where he can feel in his heart and his bones the passions and pains of the least of those he leads.

Compassion goes beyond empathy – the ability to understand another person’s feelings and experiences. Compassion acts on empathy, and does concrete works to ensure the elimination or alleviation of the factors causing his follower’s pains.

Here’s an extreme scenario of an incredulous act by a compassionate leader. One of his female workers, an assembly worker in a multinational company producing the latest gadgets for executives, who had completed a part-time university course, was keen to attend the commencement. But the single mother’s regular babysitter wouldn’t be available on that day, and she couldn’t find anyone else so soon. The boss came to know of this situation from his secretary who was a neighbor to the single mother.

A few hours before the graduation ceremony, the boss and his wife knocks on the apartment door of the mother. They offer to babysit the toddler during the whole time the woman needs to attend one of the most important events in her life. The stunned woman couldn’t believe it, but believes it anyway, participates in the commencement, and comes floating on a cloud back home.

An unbelievably lowly act performed by someone from a lofty position. But for the babysitter – the president of one of the largest conglomerates in the world – it was just a normal day, a mere reflex response of his mind arising from the great compassion in his heart.

‘A study at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management found that compassion and building teamwork will be two of the most important characteristics business leaders will need for success a decade from now.’   Doc Childre and Bruce Cryer, From Chaos to Coherence 

The final vital quality for greatness is humility. The most beloved leaders in history are also those who were the humblest. The two national leaders that come to my mind are Abraham Lincoln and Gandhi.

Humility among business and professional leaders is rarer to find, but wherever it is found, there is also greatness there. Herb Kelleher is one example. Warren Buffet is another. I think a good measure of this quality is evident in Bill Gates too, but certainly not in some others of his corporate stature.

Humble leaders are not only better loved, but also more effective. This is shown in a study in the Academy of Management Journal:

‘Bradley Owens, assistant professor of organization and human resources at the University at Buffalo School of Management, and co-author David Hekman, assistant professor of management at the Lubar School of Business, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, asked 16 CEOs, 20 mid-level leaders and 19 front-line leaders to describe in detail how humble leaders operate in the workplace and how a humble leader behaves differently than a non-humble leader.
‘Although the leaders were from vastly different organizations – military, manufacturing, health care, financial services, retailing and religious – they all agreed that the essence of leader humility involves modeling to followers how to grow.
‘The researchers found that such leaders model how to be effectively human rather than superhuman and legitimize ‘becoming’ rather than ‘pretending’.
‘Owens and Hekman offer straightforward advice to leaders. You can’t fake humility. You either genuinely want to grow and develop, or you don’t, and followers pick up on this.
‘Leaders who want to grow signal to followers that learning, growth, mistakes, uncertainty and false starts are normal and expected in the workplace, and this produces followers and entire organizations that constantly keep growing and improving.’ 

The greatest way to show humility is by gentleness in dealing with the common people. Gentleness is humility in action. It is gentleness that finally makes an individual or a nation great.

It is gentleness, above every other human quality, that inspires a leader’s followers to be able to grow in greatness themselves. That’s the quality that made an ancient king great in God’s and man’s sight.

‘Your gentleness has made me great’, David, king of Israel, declared to the whole world.

There are other basic qualities a leader needs to grow in greatness in the sight of man and of God. But the qualities I mentioned here are the fourfold radicle and primary root of great leadership from which all the other qualities spring from: Faithfulness. Mercy. Compassion. Humility.


Pappa Joseph


1 Job 32:9
2 Matthew 25:14-23 The Message
3 Ecclesiastes 7:20-22 Contemporary English Version
4 Psalm 18:35




India At Great Risk of A Rabies Pandemic

Photo Courtesy: InkHong –

Courtesy: InkHong –

In 2001, an unwise law came into effect all over the nation. Nobody can kill a stray dog anymore. Within the next ten years, India’s stray dog population skyrocketed, with the result that no other country suffers so much from dog bite and rabies. Numbering in hundreds of millions, they bite millions of people every year, and kill around 20,000 people every year with rabies. That number is more than a third of the global rabies toll!

According to a New York Times report on this great menace in India, ‘the stray population has increased so much that officials across the country have expressed alarm’. But still, nobody can euthanize a stray, and the dogs are now rapidly taking over the city lanes.

One of the solutions suggested by a member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly, although seemly a practical solution, was not taken seriously by the lawmakers. He proposed exporting the strays to China — where dogmeat is in demand — after more than 15,000 people in the state reported being bitten during a year.

Writes The New York Times:

‘India’s place as the global center for rabid dogs is an ancient one: the first dog ever infected with rabies most likely was Indian, said Dr. Charles Rupprecht, chief of the rabies program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.’

The main reason that India is hesitating in doing something concrete to eradicate rabies is because of the special relationship that Indian pariah dogs have been maintaining with Indians since ancient times.

‘While that relationship has largely disappeared in the developed world, it remains the dominant one in India, where strays survive on the ubiquitous mounds of garbage. Some are fed and collared by residents who value them as guards and as companions, albeit distant ones. Hindus oppose the killing of many kinds of animals.’   ‘Where Streets Are Thronged With Strays Baring Fangs’, The New York Times – 

India does not have much time left. Unless it acts with utmost urgency to solve this problem, it is not only exposing itself to increased dog attacks, but to a rabies pandemic that could kill potentially millions of people.

‘More than a dozen experts interviewed said that India’s stray problem would only get worse until a canine contraceptive vaccine, now in the lab, became widely and inexpensively available.
Dr. Rosario Menezes, a pediatrician from Goa, said that India could not wait that long. Dogs must be taken off the streets even if that means euthanizing them, he said. “I am for the right of people to walk the streets without fear of being attacked by packs of dogs,” he said.’   Ibid

Widespread fatal attack of humans by ‘beasts’ is one of the four calamities foretold in the Bible that would destroy a quarter of the world’s population. And the stray dog, unless eradicated, could be the most numerous of such attackers.


Pappa Joseph




A Great Nation Doesnt Send Its Debtors to Prison

From ancient times until the present generation, there have been nations great in might and wealth and extent, but with a heart as small as the paltry amounts owed by its debtor citizens whom they keep behind iron bars for payment default. Such nations will keep a man locked up for years and deny him contact with his family if he owed someone even just a cent and is unable to pay it back. That’s a fact affirmed by one great Teacher.

‘Before you are dragged into court, make friends with the person who has accused you of doing wrong. If you don’t, you will be handed over to the judge and then to the officer who will put you in jail. I promise you that you will not get out until you have paid the last cent you owe.’


A mid-Victorian depiction of the debtors prison at St Briavel Castle, England (1858)

A mid-Victorian depiction of the debtors prison at St Briavel Castle, England (1858)

In ancient Greece, bankruptcy did not exist. If a man owed and he could not pay, he and his wife, children or servants were forced into ‘debt slavery’, until the creditor recouped losses through their physical labor.

Bankruptcy is also documented in ancient East Asia. According to al-Maqrizi, the Yassa of Genghis Khan contained a provision that mandated the death penalty for anyone who became bankrupt three times.

During Europe’s Middle Ages, debtors, both men and women, were locked up together in a single large cell until their families paid their debt. Debt prisoners often died of diseases contracted from other debt prisoners. Conditions included starvation and abuse from other prisoners. If the father of a family was imprisoned for debt, the family business often suffered while the mother and children fell into poverty. Unable to pay the debt, the father often remained in debtors’ prison for many years. Some debt prisoners were released to become serfs or indentured servants (debt bondage) until they paid off their debt in labor.

In UK, until imprisonment for debt was abolished in 1869, life in the debtors prison was a miserable experience, and the inmates were forced to pay for their keep. Samuel Byrom, son of the writer and poet John Byrom, was imprisoned for debt in 1725, and in 1729 he sent a petition to his old school friend, the Duke of Dorset, in which he raged against the injustices of the system:

‘What barbarity can be greater than for jailers (without provocation) to load prisoners with irons, and thrust them into dungeons, and manacle them, and deny their friends to visit them, and force them to pay excessive fines for their chamber rent, their victuals and drinks; to open their letters and seize the charity that is sent to them! And when debtors have succeeded in arranging with their creditors, hundreds are detained in prison for chamber-rent and other unjust demands put forward by their jailers, so that at last, in their despair, many are driven to commit suicide…law of imprisonment for debts inflicts a greater loss on the country, in the way of wasted power and energies, than do monasteries and nunneries in foreign lands… Holland, the most unpolite country in the world, uses debtors with mildness and malefactors with rigour; England, on the other hand, shows mercy to murderers and robbers, but of poor debtors impossibilities are demanded.’  (Manchester Times, 22 October 1862)

That letter would be still very relevant to many of the leaders of the nations where debtors’ prisons still exist.

Dr Samuel Johnson almost landed in a debtors’ prison in England for not being able to pay a trivial amount.

‘He [Dr Samuel Johnson] was arrested for debt. The man who was the ‘chief glory’ of his age, whose life had been laborious and frugal, could not pay five pounds eighteen shillings. It was by the benevolence of Richardson the novelist that he was saved from that ‘picture of hell upon earth’, a debtors’ prison.’   From the introduction to The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia.

Modern Debtors’ Prisons

In modern times, several countries still practice the primitive and inhumane system of sending debtors to ‘hell upon earth’.

Greece still practices it, with one change; imprisonment for debts to the government was declared unconstitutional in 2008. Imprisonment, however, is still retained for debts to private banks.

Other prominent countries which still practice to the full extent this ancient system of sending debtors to prison are the United Arab Emirates and China. Hong Kong has long imprisoned debtors from its tradition as a British colony. The first mainland prison sentence for unpaid debts was handed down in 2008. Life imprisonment is possible for non-repayment of debts incurred with ‘malicious intent’.

‘Debtors in the United Arab Emirates, including Dubai, are imprisoned for failing to pay their debts. This is a common practice in the country. Private banks are not sympathetic to the debtors once they are in prison so many just choose to leave the country where they can negotiate for settlements later. The practice of fleeing UAE to avoid arrest because of debt defaults is considered a viable option to customers who are unable to meet their obligations.’   Wikipedia

At present a comparable concept to debtors prison still exists in various forms in Germany. A maximum six months of ‘coercive arrest’ is still practiced for refusal of payment or fine.

In UK, debtors can still be sent to jail for upto six weeks if they had the means to pay their debt but did not do so.

More than a third of US states allow debtors to be jailed for non payment. A year long study released in 2010 of fifteen states with the highest prison populations by the Brennan Center for Justice, found that all fifteen states sampled have jurisdictions that arrest people for failing to pay debt or appear at debt related hearings. To what extent a debtor will actually be prosecuted varies from state to state.

‘In 1970, the US Court ruled in Williams v. Illinois that extending a maximum prison term because a person is too poor to pay fines or court costs violates the right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. During 1971 in Tate v. Short, the Court found it unconstitutional to impose a fine as a sentence and then automatically convert it into a jail term solely because the defendant is indigent and cannot forthwith pay the fine in full. And in the 1983 ruling for Bearden v. Georgia the Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment bars courts from revoking probation for a failure to pay a fine without first inquiring into a person’s ability to pay and considering whether there are adequate alternatives to imprisonment.’   Wikipedia. Emphasis mine.

Several countries today still practice the primitive and inhumane system of sending debtors to prison.

India’s prevalent bonded labor system, although officially banned, is a severe form of debtors’ imprisonment. Farmers and their families are held in bondage to their landlords for failure to repay loans and forced to work on their creditor’s lands for just the barest means of survival. This bondage usually lasts the entire life of the farmer, and the bondage is then passed on to his children.

In 1976, Article 11 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights came into effect. It states, ‘No one shall be imprisoned merely on the ground of inability to fulfill a contractual obligation’.

May every nation that still sends debtors to prison take deeply to heart this international covenant:

‘No one shall be imprisoned merely on the ground of inability to fulfill a contractual obligation.’


Pappa Joseph


1 Matthew 5:5-26  Contemporary English Version