Grief comes from postponing to deal with an uncomfortable situation

Turn around and face the reality. Life is like darkness. The more you run away from it, the more it will haunt you. But you face it, and it will be bliss.
As kids we were all afraid of dark rooms. Or of stray dogs on the street (especially in India). As long as we feared the dark rooms, we were haunted by their mere thought. And as for the dogs, the moment we run from them, they start following us. Tormenting us. And if we were to just turn around, freeze and stare at them, they would whine and slink away. So, it is with Life’s realities. Often uncomfortable, disgusting and yet, hopelessly, real situations. Don’t hide from them. Face them. When you face up to a situation, it will stop haunting you. It will not change. But the fear will evaporate. And you will just be left with the reality.
Let’s say, you are extremely uncomfortable with the way someone is behaving with you. And for dignity’s sake, for retaining cordiality, you are not saying what you feel about this person to him or her. And prefer to grin and bear. Yet this is making you very sick of the person and of the situation. Over a period of time, discomfort has morphed into dread. This is when you must turn around and face things – and the person. Prefer always to be direct and therefore be understood than be dignified and be interpreted. It is like the age old saying: “I give credit, I go mad. I give no credit, you go mad. Better you go mad.” Similarly, your postponing dealing with an uncomfortable situation will make you grieve. But when you get it off your chest, when you say what you are feeling, you may cause the situation discomfort and may even cause the person who created the situation some discomfort, you will always lead everyone concerned to an eventual pedestal of peace and understanding. That’s where you__and your world__eventually need to arrive. In the end, what matters is peace. Just peace. 

Finding inner peace in discomfort

Sometimes, you just have to learn to accept whatever – or whoever – you are uncomfortable with!

The last week saw a lot of theatrics by the Indian Prime Minister and his team in the United States. Indian media went gaga over his visit giving the impression that India’s finest hour had arrived on the global stage. For more pragmatic folks, and Modi critics, like me, while the “‘Namo’ste America” show – as billed by the venerable NDTV – had a lot of sound and light, phenomenal follow-up on the ground and actual results to be delivered over the next several months alone can determine whether Prime Minister Modi’s sarkar passes with an honorable distinction or not. Yet, here’s a man, who – despite having been morally accountable for Godhra, despite having left his wife without any ostensible explanation, despite all the charges of right-wing, read non-secular, activism he faces – is still India’s Prime Minister, the first one in 30 years to be a leading a government that has absolute majority in Parliament. Undoubtedly, he’s a fine administrator, a brilliant communicator and a leader who commands respect among his followers. Even so, to me, personally, some of his credentials are hugely worrisome: his not-so-secular stances, his presiding over the Godhra carnage, his abandoning his unsuspecting, submissive wife – these are factors that make me squirm with discomfort that he’s leading my country now.

But do I – or others like me – have a choice?

The truth is he’s here to stay for five years – unless he or his government commits hara-kiri. The truth is that his government has the majority in Parliament to bulldoze whatever plans, policies or projects they may conceive. (Hopefully they won’t bulldoze non-secular ideologies down our throats!) The truth is the opposition, primarily the Congress (Disclosure: I am a forever Congressman at heart), is completely clueless on what it can and must possibly do. So, do we really have a choice?

PM Modi kicking off the Swach Bharat Abhiyan
Picture Courtesy: Internet
To be sure, some of the projects Modi has announced – particularly the Swach Bharat/Clean India campaign that he has kicked off today – are meaningful. And they are in sync with my own view as an Indian, that for India to transform, every Indian must transform. To cleanse India – figuratively, metaphorically and physically – we Indians must first clean up India.

So, over the past week, I seriously thought about my two views of Modi. Modi – the man, who I am very, very, very uncomfortable with for all the reasons that I have outlined. And Modi – my Prime Minister, who’s at least saying the right things, and some things, he saying them right too; things that were never expressed with as much clarity ever before. I realized that for my India to win, Modi has to win. My personal discomfort with the man cannot be the reason for me to be dismissive of his role as my country’s elected leader. When this clarity emerged in me, I found it easier to balance my personal discomfort with my view of our country’s much-needed, urgent – repair and rebuild – development agenda. I found myself at peace with this understanding taking root within me.

When we are uncomfortable with someone – or something – we have a choice to walk away from the scene. The other choice we have is to bury or swallow our discomfort and rally around or align with the person or the situation. Suffering though cannot be avoided in such a case. The third option is to accept the situation for what it is or the person for who they are and learn to live with that acceptance – and live in peace.

In the context under discussion, for instance, I realize that continuously criticizing Modi for the next five years for every move of his is only likely to make me more miserable. I also realize that I cannot support him at a personal level – I just can’t accept his value systems. So, I concluded that, while I am always going to be uncomfortable with his having been elected as our Prime Minister, I decided too that I am not going to expend precious personal energy ranting about him. Instead, I believe, choosing to stand with him on projects of national significance would be a more constructive approach. After all, the larger cause here is India’s development and progress and most certainly not who is leading India. Most definitely, I feel this approach will contribute to my inner peace.

Surely this approach will also work in any other context. The principle is very simple: When you are uncomfortable with a person or a situation, and if you can’t do anything to disengage completely, choose to accept whatever – or whoever – is and be at peace with yourself and your environment!