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My PhD in Humanity

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

The other day I was on a call with a friend who got in touch with me after more than a decade. The feelings that surged through me as we caught up on lost time were unquantifiable. I felt truly reminiscent as we discussed the good old days where we bunked school to watch movies and how inadvertently mum would get a call from the local theatre owner – who happened to be our family friend and we’d be dealt with as though the sheriff had caught his band of thieves for the day! We talked of the races we’d have – fast cars and long drives, the current true loves of our lives beside us if not our equally frenzied friends. We caught up on families, on work, on life in general.

That is when Tom asked me a very unusual question. He asked me what I had done with my life. In addition, whether all my plans worked as we had planned them when we were young. I don’t know why he asked me that? May be a question he was pondering over himself and felt the need to reconnect over.

I told him of all I achieved, lost and won, the one thing that matter to me most – was my PhD in Humanity. He heard humanities, and exclaimed “Randhir! Humanities – I always took you for the finance type of man!” I corrected him. It was a PhD in Humanity, not Humanities. I could almost see bewilderment over the phone! I decided to explain to him, my take on life.

Tom, I said, it’s not what you become, or what plans we made and achieved that make us worth our while. It is what we do with our lives outside that plan, I explained. Thinking I was seriously joking, he retorted with a line somewhat asking me to be serious, as he was trying to get back to our lost time and I as usual was pulling his leg. I was not.

I in fact, wanted him to see how much I had digressed from our plans, and wanted him to see how much worth I felt I have achieved. Not, so much so as a social activist, or inspirational speaker, but as a human being. I related to him how I spent the last few years of my life setting up JFY fully and I explained to him that I have learnt so much with my time with people over the last twenty years that I felt I had attained a degree in Humanity! He then understood. I love people. I am enchanted with the thought of meeting people I haven’t before, and he knew that was one of my most prominent traits.

Why did I tell him about my degree? Well, it’s not a regular degree you see. It’s a degree I gave myself, after years of studying and interacting with people, I came to one conclusion, no one person is the same, just as no two finger prints can be the same, and each finger print has lines that tell a story, each human being is different – and they can each tell their story. Just like each insurance policy we sell, or each plan we custom design for your company, each human being is very different. Only when you can value each individual, can you value their worth. This is what I learnt from my story.