Prayers for a Win and an End


A group of my friends were chatting on WhatsApp yesterday regarding the poor performance of the Indian Cricket Team in the current cricket match being played out at Old Trafford in England.

I pointed out that the Indian Cricket Team does not deserve a win with their series of ducks against some great bowling from the England Team. I also made some caustic comment about the money politics in Indian Cricket, where the infusion of significant money has not only damaged the mindsets of the players, but has also tainted the entire sport. India is the biggest money generator on the world cricket circuit.

I stated that what the Indian team apparently lacks is a serious commitment to play well and win, a passion to excel, and hard work to persist in their endeavour. They seemed to be giving up too easily against not so great a team on the English side. There was no evidence of the Indian Captain’s strategy to win the match.

Someone else commented that may be conducting prayers on behalf and in support of the Indian Cricket Team might be helpful for it to win !

In my mind, given the points I made above, prayers was not a solution at all. If that were the case, meaning that prayers can solve the team’s problems and challenges and help it to win, then why not apply prayers to the intractable conflicts of the world such as the India-Pakistan one, and the current Israeli-Gaza war ? Why not have the Pope come down to Jerusalem and pray to stop the war ? Will Israel or the Hamas listen to the Pope ? Will they listen to their own religious gurus ? Nope. Not going to happen.

There is serious lack of diplomacy and commitment – whether be it sports or wars or conflicts. While there is no connection between the two apparently, I do not subscribe to the view that prayers, or faith, or hope would resolve the issues that the world is facing currently.

Wars are raging in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Western Pakistan, Afghanistan, and now Ukraine. What is the solution ? Is it bombing everyone out, or engage in a multi-faith prayer at each one of these countries ? Or, play the role that the United Nations was endowed with, and strip the powers of the UN Security Council – which knows only one thing, which is veto ?

I think there has to be more active discussions about these conflicts in the social and business circles, as the world is dangerously moving towards a pattern of unending conflicts with no solution in sight. Nobody would be able to solve inter-faith or inter-ethnic conflicts which are thousands of years old. What can be done is to force every one in a conflict to come to a negotiating table at the UN.

So, in a nutshell, prayers are not a solution. It is not even a solution for solving one’s own personal problems. Unfortunately, an emphasis on prayers and religion takes away what an individual or a country (or a cricket team for that matter) should be doing – which is hard work, commitment, passion all combined with honesty and integrity, and in the case of conflicts, a respect for civilian lives. The last piece is sacrosanct, a lost life cannot be replaced. Just look at the damage in Gaza and other war-torn countries. Unbearable. And, the world just passes by as though nothing is happening and nothing indeed can be done by the world community. Abhorrent to say the least.

Think about it for a few minutes today.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan
09 August 2014

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2 comments

  1. Shiva

    Dear Vijay,

    Thanks for producing this impromptu piece almost instantaneously. You have touched a complex and sensitive subject and have no doubt given some wise observations. Praying for the victory of a team in a sport is perhaps the most obvious example of treating prayer in a frivolous and casual manner. So what happens if others are praying at the same time for the victory of the opposing team? The stronger prayer determines the winner? Or the “stronger God” ? (Mind you supporters of opposing teams may be praying to different Gods – very likely! ). So are the player’s skills, coaches’ professionalism, all the incredibly elaborate training programmes and strategies of experts of any value? ?!! The answer is certainly yes but the proponents of prayer may say that the ultimate result is the combination of all of these plus. ….. you guessed it – their prayers! Which one contributes how much percentage?? Almost certainly absurd, but who knows? ? Who can prove or disprove? ? No one. It is here that we are pushing into the realms of the unknown. However prayers are not entirely without their merit.

    Sport is an easy subject where this argument need not get too intense for most of us. But in more serious matters in life the unknown exercises a far greater degree of influence on humans. The fear of the unknown generates emotions, beliefs, practices, and entire cultures and lifestyles most of which may not be based on any logic. But these beliefs and lifestyles take root and stand the test of time simply because they will never be proved or disproved for centuries. Prayers are an important part of most cultures.

    In a practical sense prayers do have their place in life and society. Whether one believes in them from a divine angle or not, prayers bring calmness to the mind and boost confidence levels in human beings.
    Without entering to a discussion about the divine, prayers can inspire ideas and thoughts which can turn out into brilliant solutions to real life problems. Prayers provide an opportunity to reflect and introspect which is sometimes all that is required to resolve conflicts. If nothing else prayers can provide a placebo effect – which as we know can be positive and powerful.

    Well coming to the issues of Israel, Gaza, Palestine, Syria et al – simple prayers – whether said by the Pope or anyone else – are not going to solve them, about that there cannot be any dispute! These are extreme human tragedies. The magnitude of those problems require enormous commitment and genuine desire on the part of many parties and leaders to forget the past and pave the way for peace in future. May this happen soon and may peace prevail.

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