Nov 11, 2009

Left, Right...Left, Right!

The Memorable Birthday Wish time.

A student of visual journalism sharing the class space with seven others to make a total of eight. Since we were visual journalism students, we had a special subject to study, the history of cinema. We got a superb teacher, Louis Mathew, who in every aspect was an appropriate one to take classes on cinema. The historic film persons like Orson Welles of the Citizen Kane, whom he introduced to us through his memorable lectures and charming film slides were truly inspiring.
One day on a class time, he hurled towards us a seemingly aimless question after telling a parable. The parable and question somehow went like this:
“Look, here is a man traveling on a cycle and on the opposite side there is another one travelling on a car. They collide each other but nothing happens except that both of them find themselves with a broken tooth each... “
What a situation, we wondered.
“…Look, so this is the situation. Both of the accident-victims have the same loss. There is no difference in that. But here is a variation in the situation. Let me make all of you a part of this story. You are the judge and you have a thousand rupees exactly to share between both of the victims,” he explained the story.
Glancing over a row of opened mouths, Louis continued, “I want an answer from you all; how will you share the money between the cyclist and the one with the car. Will you share it fifty-fifty or will you give someone a little more than what you give the other one?” he looked at everyone of us over the specs one by one inquiringly.
I had no doubt, and at once I said, “Why doubt? It is fifty-fifty, it does not look like big problem, because justice cannot be biased.” I cleared my view point.
But to my amazement, every other one of the class unanimously opined that they would give more money to the cyclist.
“Why?” I wondered.
To my embarrassment, Louis said, “If I was the judge, I would have given more money to the cycle rider.”
I felt isolated and glanced at every one to find at least one supporter among them.
Louis consoled me, “don’t worry friend, you are not wrong, but you are right”.
Dear blogger friends, I insist each of you to make your view point before reading henceforth.
I asked him, “Sir what you mean?”
He explained, “I mean what I said, when you answered that you would share the money fifty-fifty, it was not a wrong answer. You said your opinion from your view point and motivated by your own thinking, that’s why I said, you were not wrong, but you were RIGHT. You are politically biased to the right wing.”
Pin drop silence.
“In such a situation, I will give more money to the cyclist. Because I know that a five hundred rupee note is not equivalent to both the poor cyclist and the car owner. A person who knows this difference is LEFT and I am LEFT’, Louis explained.
“This does not mean that you are wrong. Both of us are right. The only difference is that you are RIGHT and I am LEFT.”
Now I understood, and was deeply consoled by his explanation. I know that my ideology is at some points slanting towards the right wing policies. Not in politics, but in every aspect of social life, that is my view point, I am a believer of the right wing ideology.
But, what was your answer?


  1. I feel that everything can not be just right or left. In this case if we give more money to the poor man, it would feel less like justice and more like sympathy/pity. If we are talking about what is just and what is true, can we afford to be be swayed by pity ?
    But it is true that everybody who is not our equal, be it financially or otherwise, need our support...a leg up once in a while. Extending monetary support to such people once in a while is also the right thing.

  2. You have narrated very beautifully. In my opinion more amount of money should be given to the man travelling on a cycle as he is a poor man. Though it is the fault of both cycle manr as well as the man travelling by car but it would be a justice if more money is given to the cycle man by taking into consideration of his poor condition. In our life we come across many situations like this and it becomes pretty difficult to take the decision. But we should always support a person who is unable to do anything and in this matter for e.g.,Rs.500/Rs.1000 may be nothing for the car man but it would be a great help for the cycle man.

  3. The dentist will get the money from both of them. Left or right, I just hope we are not left out

  4. I will give a bigger share to the cycle man... My view point. :)

  5. Hi! My first time here! Nice post...reminded me of my teachers :)
    I agree with you nevertheless :)

  6. Tom'z'

    Went thru almost all posts...

    Just wants to apreciate your guts man. Coz, I feel one needs Guts to come closer to The Truth. The more closer you are, the more Guts you need...

    I feel, creativity should be close to the Truth- I'm not saying 'realistic'. Then it doesn't matter if you're Right or Left! Yup it should be entretaining too, only for the Truth to penetrate, in to the common-man...

    Keep Going,


  7. Thought provoking post!
    I am in agreement with you.

    Thank you for your visit to my blog!


  8. I would have probably given more to the cycle man, after consulting the car-man. Out of charity, not necessarily LEFTIST sympathy.

  9. i will give nothing to the car driver because he , the person to ride more care fully .
    i am not right or left.

  10. Thanks for everyone's comments, I don't like to address anyone and explain why do they think like that. As I have said in the narration, the reason is clearly portrayed in the story itself. Being the first timers hear, thanks and welcome to joms72, Margie and Varsha Shrote..

  11. I have just seen the post. Being the teacher who told the story, I think I should make some points clear...
    Contrary to what Aparna had commented, my idea was to explain what is LEFT and what is RIGHT. I was talking about JUSTICE, and not about SYMPATHY or CHARITY....
    The money that was to be shared by the cyclist and the car owner was the insurace claim. And the bills at the dentist were exactly Rs.1,000/- each for both...
    Being the judge, how would you distribute the amount?...
    In my opinion, if you divide the amount equally, you are 'NOT' JUST, because Rs.1,000/- is not really EQUAL for the cyclist and the car owner.
    It may take a month for the poor guy to earn Rs.1,000/- but the rich guy can earn it in less than a day.
    So, if I say the cyclist is to be paid more, it is not because of MY "charity", but because HE "deserves" it...!
    LOuis Mathew

  12. an interesting post :) And thanks a lot for leaving a comment on my blog :)

  13. Everybody is entitled to ones opinion. I still feel whether the cyclist earns more money or the car owner, everybody is equal in the eyes of law.
    If I were the judge, then I would look at giving more to the poor man as charity.

  14. This is the magic!

    Just tell the truth.
    Let the reader decide what is right, wrong and develop their own POV.

    You did the best thing by keeping that option open. I think this the beauty of this post.

    If all that you do is try and justify a POV (personal/organisational) - you are not giving the audience any options and is denying them their right to participate in the whole process. In fact you are taking their brains for granted...!

    Justifying a particular POV is easy- stimulating someone else's POV is difficult ;-)

  15. When I first read the situation...I thought I would divide the money equally, but then when you asked your readers to forma fixed opinion before proceeding my idea became leftist for the same reason your professor explained. I don't know if his analysis is true...I am not a leftist...
    anyway, interestng post :)

  16. @joms72

    And that's what I too have decided while writing the post. I am not going to argue with anyone, i will just be a moderator..


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