Learn to accept people for who they are. Don’t try to get them to fit into your idea of who you want them to be.
T.M.Krishna’s interview yesterday to Parshathy J Nath of The Hindu got me thinking on something that’s been plaguing us as a people and as society! As the prelude to the interview suggests, here’s a man about whom everyone’s got an opinion. Some like him for who he is. Others think he’s a maverick. Still others believe Krishna thrives on sensationalism. A few even insist that Krishna is here to ruin tradition, culture and everything that Carnatic music represents. Over all, there appears to be a sense of “What do you do with a problem called Krishna?” that envelopes all discourses and public opinion on the man.
I am sorry, but I don’t get this.
Why shouldn’t Krishna be who he is? Why should he be who you want him to be? Why should he be in ‘the mold’ of ‘tradition and culture’ just because he is a Carnatic musician?
I must quickly offer a disclaimer here – I am not a Carnatic music buff. I don’t know or appreciate Krishna’s music the way his rasikas would or the way his critics would dissect it. I am raising these questions more from the point of view of inviting all of us to learn to appreciate the diversity among us. The intolerance that we show to a Krishna is actually symptomatic of the intolerance that is festering in us for anything, or anyone, that doesn’t fit ‘the mold’. This is perhaps why we resist the idea of same sex relationships or the idea of eating beef or the idea of inclusiveness with regard to religion.
Let’s examine how we think and behave as individuals and as a society. Let’s begin with our families first. Expecting people at home to be any different from who they are is surely what is making our relationships messy. Despite all the closeness among people in a family, each one still has very different ways of thinking and living. Maturity demands that in such situations you simply let people be.
A friend of mine recently shared that he was having “serious” challenges in “controlling” his 18-year-old son. The boy apparently had little interest in academics. And his parents’ paranoia was only making him more rebellious. I told my friend that the problem lay in him trying to “control” his son. I have found that as children grow up to be young adults, parents too must grow up. We have to recognize that our ‘kids’, when they are young adults, don’t need us to support or protect them. What they expect from us is that we respect their integrity, their intellect and their privacy. Being available to them is what they will value more than being there all the time, all over, and around, them!
I have another friend who has a pretty interesting way of dealing with diversity in his immediate circle. Within his family, he has told everyone that they are free to do whatever they want as long as they don’t interfere with whatever he is doing. Everyone meets every quarter and reviews this arrangement in a mature manner and if there are new agreements to be arrived at, they do draw them up. Result: there’s complete peace and harmony even as people do their own stuff. For instance, my friend is either out trekking or racing in car rallies, while his wife undertakes pilgrimages even as she runs a business, and his children are busy building their own careers having chosen their companions without having to toe a ‘family’ line. The family does converge on common vacation times annually or simply gets together some weekends to goof off. But they do it more as friends than as people having to live under the influence or shadow of each other.
People, including children, don’t need to, and can’t, be controlled. They can only be conversed with. You can share a point of view. Either there can be agreement or disagreement. If you disagree, fine, agree to do so. Recognize that it is perfectly fine to disagree. Just don’t grieve over the disagreement. If you want to avoid feeling miserable, don’t force-fit people into ‘the mold’.
So, in my humble opinion, the problem is not with Krishna, or others, who have dared to march to a different drummer, to a different beat. The problem is with us – with you, with me. In fact, if you look within, there’s a T.M.Krishna in you too, wanting to break free, waiting to sing your song. You are miserable only because you are worried about society – log kya kahenge, what will people say? Let go of that need for social approval and let your music flow. And see how you feel!!
Bottomline: We forget that the magic and beauty of Life lies in the uniqueness that Life nurtures and offers; it clearly is not in ‘the mold’ that society has craftily invented and imposed. So, let’s celebrate the diversity in people, thought and experiences around us.