Set an example. Let your Life be your message.
To grow old, biologically, is no big deal. All of us will age with time. We have to make no effort. But to grow wiser, mature, and to apply our native intelligence, is both a big opportunity and a bigger responsibility.
Recently, I was out with a friend who lit up a cigarette and chucked the empty cigarette pack on the street. While I chided him for his mindless action, I also picked up the trash and reached it to a trashcan at a coffee place we went to later. Another friend drove around town without wearing his seat belt, with me beside him in the front of his car fully strapped. We drove short distances together but I prefer being strapped. It is not about being subservient to law in either instance, but to be personally responsible__and accountable__for our actions. This perspective is so relevant in India at the moment because of the Swach Bharat Campaign that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leading and because of the new traffic laws being rolled out. One of the reasons why people don’t believe either of these much-needed initiatives will do well, or even survive, is because many expect public participation and ownership to be completely lacking. Without people changing themselves, we can hardly expect any change in our society.
Society is a reflection, a true one, of who we are. And the way we behave. So, in India, if we find our streets dirty, messy, and stinking with garbage mounds at each intersection, it is because we are an irresponsible population. If the cases of drunken driving, often leading to fatal accidents, is mounting among the younger (20 somethings) generation, it is because we parents are setting a poor example by way of our irreverent road sense. We may not always drink and drive, but we hesitate or don’t care enough to stop people__even in our immediate circle of influence__from driving without seatbelts or when they have imbibed a drink or two.
Gandhi said, with absolute simplicity, “Be the change that you want to see in the world”. He also said, “My Life is my message.” These need not be viewed as sentiments expressed by a man whose ideas were only relevant in a different era, in a century gone by. These are also not ideals that are hard to emulate. They remain as relevant as they once were and are an opportunity, in fact, a clarion call, for personal transformation. We don’t have to be leaders to set an example. We don’t have to be visionaries to have a message. We must lead though, our lives, with maturity and with a complete sense of responsibility__cognizant always of the kind of example we are setting to the generation that is following us and of the message it is reading of our Life!