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Rewards of Altruism~II

Societal and normative conformity and compliance beyond an acceptable point and at the expense of our individuality are definitely not advisable. Many of the shining examples of success amidst us are of the rebels and iconoclasts who have believed in their convictions and continued with their ways without being overly worried or hooked to societal acceptance and appreciation.

Saumitra Mohan | Kolkata |

Why at all should we bother about what others are doing, saying, achieving or claiming as long as the same does not affect us in one way or the other? We should look at others only to be positively inspired rather than sulk and feel envious at the achievements and exaggerated claims about their successes. Confining ourselves with self-development rather than negative activity would partially address of our problems. The negative talk and action imbued with negative emotions not only take a toll on our mental and physical health, but we also become very bad human beings, who miss the wood for the tree, who have no idea of the purpose for our being here in this life and end up messing his/her precious human birth.

All this triggers a chain reaction of failures and unhappiness in our lives. Our failure to control others’ actions and lives keep us unhappy and dissatisfied all the time, thereby negatively affecting and influencing our behaviour. As such, we keep cribbing and complaining all the time for our deemed failures. We also create and invent imaginary ‘fall guys’ for our failures and blame them for the same. Such people often attribute their failures to the lack of right people, right circumstances and suitable resources for not being able to carry out their responsibilities and duties effectively.

If we were really to perform our duties and escapades when all the required resources and circumstances are available to us, the same does us no credit. After all, anyone can do anything if all the desired and required resources are made available. But, if we can carry out our responsibilities and perform the difficult tasks despite all the constraints and handicaps, then it shows our real leadership qualities while also proving our real character and worth. Such persons always succeed in life and know how to make even adverse situations favourable and positive. Who can forget the redoubtable Mountain Man Dasrath Majhi from Jharkhand who never cribbed about the absence of a road in his village?

Majhi took upon himself to keep chipping away at the mighty mountains for as long as 22 years to carve a road through the same after he lost his wife on way to the hospital via the same mountain. There was no short route available and possible in his village. Today, Dasrath Majhi, who was a mere daily wage labourer, is a legend in India for pulling off the impossible. If one single person could do it, we all can definitely do the same with whatever resources are available to us. In his celebrated work titled, American Soldier, the eminent American sociologist, Samuel Johnson, wrote that the soldiers who had comfortable and easy postings in peaceful regions had many more complaints than those posted on the difficult borders and warfronts.

The same is the case with all of us. Most of us, who enjoy life’s comforts, keep cribbing and whining about certain other things that we don’t have. However, those who are deprived of even the basic amenities and requirements of life are usually comfortable and happy with their circumstances. As they say, our pains, problems, troubles and travails are actually God’s tool to test our mettle to improve our character through the same. Every problem we encounter, every challenge we face and every pain we endure make us a stronger and better person than we were earlier. However, as we move with our sundry endeavours to achieve life’s goals, we ought to be careful not to lose our basic individuality and humanity because of the same. In our bid to achieve our objectives, we try to please and placate those who may help us in doing so.

However, often we overdo the same, thereby losing the very individuality which distinguishes us from others. We are always modifying our conduct and demeanour in keeping with the prerequisites of our life’s goals and ambitions. As long as these behavioural changes and modifications are positive and in conformity with the larger spiritual upliftment of our soul, the same is well-taken and recommended. The problem starts when we modify our behaviour to be recognised by those around us including friends, relatives, colleagues and other members of the larger society. More often than not, we lose our individuality, uniqueness and originality while trying to do so and by going overboard for attaining the societal recognition and appreciation.

Societal and normative conformity and compliance beyond an acceptable point and at the expense of our individuality are definitely not advisable. Many of the shining examples of success amidst us are of the rebels and iconoclasts who have believed in their convictions and continued with their ways without being overly worried or hooked to societal acceptance and appreciation. They may have had to bear with societal deprecation and humiliation initially, but they were finally accepted and lauded for whatever they set out to do. In fact, most of the civilisational progress has come about because of these non-conformist rebels who had the conviction and courage to challenge the status- quo notwithstanding much opposition and resistance on their way.

Again, while we try out newer things, indulge our creative muses, perform our duties and set out to achieve our life’s goals, we should do the same without ever hurting others. Hurting and harming for larger societal interests as in case of a soldier doing it for his country may be acceptable, but we should never do the same for the misplaced selfish interests. By talking ill of others because of our supposed sense of hurt and humiliation, we actually hurt ourself more than once and more than we ever realise. By doing so all the time, we not only activate and attract negative vibrations, we actually end up hurting ourselves more than once because of this attitude.

The person may have hurt us only once, but our constant focus on the incident makes us hurt ourselves more than once. The guilty mind thinks that everyone around us knows about the negative incident or our mistake. So, we keep on trying to defend the same even though people may hardly know about it, may have forgotten the same or may be hardly interested in the matter. But our constant preoccupation and obsession never allows the issue to die down and we keep the same alive by our conscious behaviour. We should stop doing the same and move on with our lives, engaging ourselves with positive things. People only see and hear what we show and say. Anything we think is immediately reflected through our speech and action. So, we ought to be careful about harbouring negative thoughts. Positivity in thought and steadfastness in action will lead us towards realisation of our real ‘Self ’ and eventual merger with the Supreme Consciousness.

(Concluded)

(The writer is an IAS officer, presently posted as Commissioner of School Education, West Bengal. The views expressed are personal and don’t reflect those of the Government)