In any situation only do what you believe in and what you are comfortable doing.
Yesterday, I met my dear friend RU. We coincidentally ended up at the same coffee shop. We spent a few minutes like most good friends do – catching up and sharing notes. In a context that both of us have had to connect in the recent past, RU and I started talking about right and wrong. RU brought up an almost Osho-like perspective – one that I love, believe in, and live by – on right vs wrong. RU said, “Right and wrong are so relative. To someone something may appear right and to someone else the same thing may appear wrong. So, society sees it in a certain way. And the law sees it in a certain other way. In a legal context, you can’t debate much; you just follow the law. But in a social context, you don’t always need to keep debating right and wrong. You just do what you have to do. And do what you are comfortable doing.”
Interestingly, Raghuram Rajan, the Reserve Bank Governor too shared a similar perspective, more in the context of economic policy when he announced a 50 bps rate cut earlier this week. He said, with the air of someone who was not just a subject matter expert, but also a thought leader, these famous words: “Everybody and his uncle has a theory on how to run the economy and what the RBI should be doing. There are savants and idiot savants available to give you advice. So we hear a lot of advice. There are people who say interest rates should be zero. There are people who say cut your lending rates and raise deposit rates…I don’t know what you want to call me. Santa Claus is what Latha (Latha Venkatesh is an anchor with CNBC-TV18) called me earlier, you want to call me a hawk; I don’t know, I don’t go by these things. My name is Raghuram Rajan and I do what I do.”
There’s great value in the discussion that RU and Rajan bring to the table.
The whole world obsesses over what is right and what is wrong. If we get caught in splitting hair on this debate, seriously, no one will ever win. Because what is right to one may really appear wrong to another. And it is only because it appears so that people have differences of opinions and disagreements. It is this divergence in thought that leads to quarrels, fights, messy legal battles and often times a lifetime of acrimony. And it is this same right vs wrong argument that spawns crime, hatred and intolerance.
I have learnt from Life that the best way to live is to only do what you believe in – no matter what. If you don’t believe in something but have to do it to please other people – often, family, friends, bosses or colleagues – you will be very unhappy with the entire experience. Now, when the experience is as trivial as attending a family dinner with folks that you have poor chemistry with, you can get over it once the meal is over or, at best, you will put it behind in you a couple of days. But what do you do when you have to keep toeing the line in a work situation with an autocratic boss in an anarchic system? What do you do when you have to sell your soul in a relationship where you are treated like a doormat? Well obviously, being the nice person that you are, you begin by adjusting, accommodating and working towards making the other party see reason. But when you end up having to suffer day in and day out, at some time, you will conclude that you can’t handle it anymore. You will then do what you must do – like walk out of a relationship or quit a job or refuse dinners with family members that you can’t relate to. When you do take a stance, in your own interest, people will make it appear as if you have sinned. They will say you must “grow up”. And this whole debate on what is right and what is wrong will erupt – and rage on.
In any situation, four perspectives will be thrown at you. What is right, what appears to be right, what appears to be wrong and what is wrong. All four are relative. Simplify your Life. Rather than suffer yourself while pleasing other people, do only what you believe in, and what you are comfortable doing. This is the only way to inner peace. When you are at peace with yourself, magically, your world, and everything in it, falls in place!