Look into the mirror before you opine

No one is good or bad. Everyone is a product of the time that they experience/go through.
There’s so much talk about corruption in high places in India today. And the lack of morality in power centres. All of us lament of a basic erosion of value systems. Social Media offers the perfect platform for people to give free, unsolicited advice and opine on how other people must be leading their lives. So much time and energy is being expended on hashtag activism against the political class, the corrupt and those who invite public scrutiny and attention. Let’s divest ourselves of indulging in such wasteful opinions and invest in introspection instead. We are all as corrupt as anyone else is. If you pay a bribe to have a cop let you off for breaking a signal, if you drink and drive, if you support a communal (anti-human) point of view, if you pollute the environment by indiscriminately using plastic, if you private ogle at someone, you are as corrupt as the people who are accused of financial and criminal wrongdoings. Period.

True character is who you are when you are in a dark room, alone, when no one is watching. So, before rushing off to opine, let us look into the mirror. As someone famously said,”Every Saint has a sinful past and every Sinner has a saintly future!” Amen!

A tip for Inner Peace: Always see the good in others

However improbable and impractical it may seem in today’s world, there’s a lot of good in everyone around us. The world is not made up of cynics, scamsters, cheats, rapists, murderers and terrorists alone. In fact, there’s a good side to everyone __ irrespective of who they are and what they do. We don’t see this goodness in people because we are carrying the burden of our past experiences within us. Our vision is impaired by a certain ‘worldliness’ which comes from years of growing up in a world that appears to be full of violence, deceit and falsehoods. At least that’s what the media would want us to see.

It’s tragic if we base our view of the world by what the media reports of the actions of a minority among us. Just because the media has such phenomenal reach__thanks to technology’s hold on our lives__bad news travels instantaneously. And bad news sells faster than good. People always love to hear of horror stories of loot, plunder, rape, corruption, calamity more than news of compassion, love, giving and understanding. So the media feeds what people love to read, watch and hear. And people lap it up all the more, ending up becoming more and more untrusting of the world around them and, resultantly, cynical.

But look around you. Everyone’s got a good side and everyone’s trying to make your Life better.

Consider these:

  • In the oppressive Summer heat of India, you see a traffic policeman struggling to regulate traffic on the road that insensitive road-citizens insist on vitiating. Sitting in the air-conditioned comfort of your car you look at the cop and the word CORRUPT pops up in your mind. Possibly he accepts bribes as most of his ilk do. But are you sure this cop, this particular one, is dishonest? Do you know him well enough to hold this judgment of him? For a moment, think of the further mayhem that would ensue, in an already regulated yet chaotic situation, if this cop was not at his post. Think of how your commute would have been affected adversely.
  • At the airport, who you think of as an insensitive security officer, insists that you cannot carry a bottle of liquid on the plane. You explain that it is only bottled water. You demonstrate it’s safe by drinking it in front of her. She remains non-plussed and requests you firmly to hand the bottle back to her. You grumble. You think she’s an idiot. But have you considered thinking of the ingenious ways in which terrorists and hijackers operate? Have you considered the diligence in her non-negotiable stance aimed at your personal security and that of other passengers? Haven’t you realized that it is this lack of process compliance that leads to loopholes that sinister operatives cash in on? Don’t you now agree that you should perhaps celebrate the security officer than begrudge her?
  • You see a couple of sweepers from your city’s civic body labor over keeping your street clean. You think of them as INEFFICIENT. Easily, given the amount of garbage that accumulates in our cities, not in designated areas, but as litter on the streets, this definition seems only appropriate. But who generates this amount of waste? The sweepers? Or is it citizens like you and me? Who refuses to segregate waste as decomposable and non-decomposable when we have been educated on the need for this through various channels a zillion times over? The sweepers? A large Indian city generates 4500 metric tons of solid waste daily, of which 2500 metric tons is non-biodegradeable plastic and an additional 700 metric tons is construction debris. Who generates this waste? The sweepers. Now, look at the sweepers toiling on your street again. Think of their meagre earnings (often less than USD 50 per month), think of their families, think of their children’s education__will they end up as sweepers too? Yet think of how patiently, how diligently they go about their menial, back-breaking work, daily, rain or shine __ clearing up waste that you and I generate!

These are just examples of common, unsung, faceless folks that we, urban, city-bred, facebookers and hashtag activists are dismissive about daily. Because of opinions we have formed about them. There are hundreds, thousands perhaps, in our immediate circles of influence, in our homes, in our families, on our streets, in our offices, in our cities, who do their bit to make each day count for us. They don’t need your praise or even your attention or understanding. Not seeing the good in others does not affect them as much as it does affect your inner core, your inner peace. So, just see the good in people around you and wish them well silently __ whoever they are. Trust me, you will be more at peace with yourself and the people you cohabit this world with!