We are living in a different world today and observing an unprecedented scourge that is threatening us. More than a hundred years back, there was an influenza epidemic in the world. Millions of people died. In those days, the communication in all formats was so primitive that for us, Europe and America were as good as Mars and Venus. We first started seeing these aliens about four hundred years back when Vasco De Gama landed in India. Rest as they say is history.
In the last fifty years, with the help of Airbus and Boeing, every place on the earth is less than a day’s journey, including the airport transfer time. So, merging with “aliens” is complete. All of us have realised that humans are the same everywhere. What makes them different is their culture, the way they are brought up. Culture is the way they lived during the isolation period before the globe-trotting started. Culture is the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.
When you live in proximity to the same people for a period, you slowly get to know everything about them. Sometimes you see the beautiful, occasionally angry, generous, or petty – everyone’s drama unfolds in front of you. You know how they think and feel. Consequently, you may become hugely opinionated about everyone.
Whatever opinions, ideas, and conclusions you may have about other people and yourself – now is the time to drop them. Whatever thoughts, views, and deductions you may have about other people and yourself – now is the time to lose them. Everyone can flower into a beautiful being. The more opinions, ideas, conclusions, and prejudices you have, the bigger the distance between you and that possibility. Allow yourself and everyone else a fresh start.
I have a home in a harmonious society with all row houses. It is representative of Bharat. People from all over India live there peacefully, most of the times. But in today’s times of Coronavirus, a lot of discussions take place. For such societies, there is an elected committee who handles the affairs of the community. But for some reason, the current committee always seems to be riding a high horse. They forget that others have given them a POI- power of attorney, to handle day to day affairs. But the way some things are handled surprise me and makes me sad. When I got thinking about it, I suddenly was reminded of Ravana with ten heads. What are these ten heads? What does it signify?
Everyone has ten or more heads. One day, your head is full of greed, another day full of jealously, hatred, love, lust, beauty, or ugliness. Or you go through everything in one day. If you see someone in a moment of jealousy, you conclude that he is a jealous person. If you see someone in a moment of greed, you suppose that he is a greedy person. But, at different times, different heads are working in everyone. Everyone has at least one head of love, beauty, generosity, or compassion.
Just follow a fundamental principle – if you see something wrong in someone, condemn that, not the person. If you bring this wisdom into your life, you will be free of baggage. When you do this to others, the same will happen to you.
Someone once said, “Love is a thing that happens between a man and woman who do not know each other.” That is true only if you live a frivolous, judgmental life – a life without wisdom. The more you know someone, warts and all, the more you realise that all of us have the same traits. In the case of some people, poor qualities are more predominant. Why is that so? Consider our life before the stone age. We acquired all the traits as we progressed. Those in the cold region ate whatever was available during winters, but those in warm weather had flowing rivers and could grow crops and vegetables of different types. So the cuisine of these people became varied and more vibrant. Those who have faced abuse during childhood behave differently. A famous line from Wordsworth’s poem, The Rainbow, is “The child is the father of the man!” It means that our childhood shapes our adulthood!
The more you get to know someone, the more love and compassion should arise. When you know all their struggles, you know they are as human as you are. We should not give up on people when they behave unexpectedly, at least in the initial phase. Probably, all through their lives, they have seen such behaviour in the family and their neighbourhood. So, they think it is the only way to behave.
I will tell you a story of a young boy. Brilliant and smart he was. But every day in the evening, he would meet up with friends on a footpath outside his college, and they would have a beer. He was still in his teens. His mother knew about this and met one of his favourite teachers to explain her apprehensions about the child. The next day his teacher called him. She said, “What do you do on the footpath outside the college in the evening.” He said, “Oh! My mother met you.” On further questioning, he said, “Now I have understood what you have explained. Starting just now, I will stop taking beers. But you know madam, from my childhood I have seen that my father comes home from his factory. Takes a bath and starts with his whiskey. Nobody explained to me the wrong side of alcohol. Since he did it, I was just copying him.”
Don’t forget that every soul has a right side to it; try to recognise that good side even in these people who you otherwise consider to be horrible. A rose plant has more thorns than roses, but we still call it a rose plant because we recognise its beauty. A mango tree has more leaves than mangoes, but we still call it a mango tree because we know the sweetness of its fruits.
Every human being has at least one drop of sweetness in them. Why don’t we see this? Please do this with everyone around you – try to recognise that one drop of sweetness in even those people who you otherwise consider to be terrible. Only if you understand it in others, it will reflect in you. On the other hand, if you see terrible things in other people, that is what will reflect in you. It does not mean you should become blind to everything. You see the leaves in the tree; you see the thorns in the rose bush – but you acknowledge the flower and the fruit.
That is all you need to do. Let’s make this happen and let us not judge people on an incident. Let us not be judgemental. Give the long rope to others, and you will find that people are okay after all. Maybe they have some quirks like everybody else, including you!