As a rule I don’t read newspapers nor watch TV. Years back I decided that I don’t want to start my day miserable – for newspapers give nothing but news of rape, murder, violence, accidents…. Enough to upset me for the whole day. I’m not qualifying my decision as right or wrong. That was something I decided for myself. Still, me being working and my husband being a person who never fails to read every single letter in newspapers – news does comes to me whether I want it or not. Especially my husband relishes in telling me about the latest headlines on violence even if I request him not to – his justification being I trust people too much and he wants me to be aware of the wickedness of people!
The one emotion I feel when I hear about any violence is ‘shame’.
Rain, hail and snow,
Ice too, are set apart,
But when they fall,
They merge to become
The same water of the valley stream.
– Ikkyu (1394-1481
As part of the same stream called ‘life’, it is a part of me that has done the violence. So I’m also responsible for what has happened. If one human being is capable of doing some violence, I am also capable of doing it. The fact that I choose not to do it doesn’t absolve me from that act. I know it’s going too far. But that is how it is.
I read somewhere that ‘we never desire earnestly what we desire in reason’. Most of the violence (physical or psychological) happens because we don’t desire in reason. When I am reasonable, I will recognize the other person’s right to have a point of view, his/her right to choose his/her path, the other person’s right to say no. Then we will accept that even though we desire, we may or may not get fulfilment.
There is no harm in desiring things. There is no harm in even trying to get what we desire as long as it doesn’t tresspass othes’ right or hurt others. Sure, we might feel disappointed or hurt or sad. Then, as emotions go, it will pass. Did we reach this far in life without disappointments or hurt or unhappiness? How many times have we felt that ‘this is the end, I can’t go one step more’. But aren’t we happy? Have we not come out of it? I have. Many times.
I think that it is time all of us really consider another person as a human being like us and give the respect due to him/her. And not as objects which exist to fulfil our desires. I might think that I do respect others. When I think and observe my behaviour, I realize that I do not. When my son says ‘no’ and if it is inconvenient to me or if it doesn’t live up to my values, I do everything to make him comply with my wishes. Where is my respect to him as an individual? When my husband says no, I immediately get angry and argue till I get what I want.
I wonder, if there were no rules, regulations, societal pressures; will I behave as I behave today. If I am allowed absolute power, will I accept a ‘no’ from somebody? Or will I hurt them? I don’t know. When I examine myself, I comply with most of the strictures of law, society, culture, religion etc because I am afraid of what will happen if I break them. What will I do when I am above all those rules? It is frightening.
My sirji once told the difference between ethics and morals. Moral is how you behave when you are (suppose you are a man) faced with a woman in front of others and ethics is how you will behave when you are stranded in a deserted island with a woman. I need to think deeply what are my morals and what are my ethics. That will decide whether I am a human being or not. And that, I am sure, will be a life time study too.
Meanwhile, I wish all of us show some respect to others – family members, friends, colleagues, subordinates, immediate neighbours. Especially family. If we do that atleast the kids will learn by imitation. And kids are our future.