Lately, a topic that I have been thinking of much, is the level of “intolerance” that is supposedly experienced by many. This is not just the “flavour of the day, week or month” based on the reports in the national and international media that makes me want to share my thoughts on this. This has been on my mind for a long time – primarily when I became aware of myself, my emotions, my thoughts and the like. I might have said this earlier in my articles, and will repeat it – I used to be an extremely short tempered, intolerant and angry person – and while I have made much progress, there might be some who know me, who think that while I have become better, I am still short tempered, and for the most part, angry.
And that actually makes it easy for me to reiterate my dedication to becoming a better human – and to growing to become someone who is known for compassion, and love. And, if compassion and love exist, then it naturally means that forgiveness is innately inherent as a trait, or even better, there will exist no need to forgive, since the hurt itself will not have taken place. And no, I am not aiming to have a halo around my head! Just aiming to be a responsible, kind, compassionate and loving human.
Multiple instances and events come to my mind when on this topic. And I had started writing another article which I had originally titled “Disagree without being disagreeable! Be child-like, not childish!” I had written this article a while ago, and even edited it (for a change) and never got around to posting it, or sharing it with others.
And every time I would touch the article again, and think of sharing it, my system of checking with the Universe told me, “Not Now! Wait! This is not the time!” and I would keep the article aside. And today, as I started off this article, I checked, and the answer I got was, to take that article and make it a part of this one. And so it has become part of this.
And today, I started off on this thanks to a lovely Marathi Movie that I happened to watch, thanks to Sridar, my brother-in-law. A truly amazing movie, that can be watched simply for the musical content. And for those who are interested, the name of the movie is “Katyar Kaljat Ghusali” which is a period movie. Even if you don’t watch the movie, I suggest that you consider listening to the music. Absolutely amazing music, and truly moving. And as I type this out, I am listening to the music which I purchased after watching the movie.
The one message I got from the movie was a reiteration of something that has been shared by evolved souls, and “seers” from time immemorial – that regardless of the actions of another, as a being, the way to progress and to move closer to Divinity, is to be compassionate, forgiving, and loving.
And as is the way the human brain functions, jumping from one thought to another, let me switch tracks a bit – “It’s alright to disagree, and never alright to be disagreeable in the process of disagreeing!” This is a statement that Raj Sharma, a very dear friend of mine, said to me over a decade ago! Maybe he quoted someone else, and to me, it will always be his quote. I have used this so many times after that.
This keeps coming to mind every time I see some interactions between people in person, on social media, and even on email and other such forms of communication. Lately, there seems to be a decrease in the levels of acceptance that people, across the spectrum have, of others, who have different and differing views on a whole host of subjects. Whether it is politics, or sports, or some celebrity – almost everyone has a definitive opinion about it, and are vociferous about expressing their opinions as well. It is good that people are expressive, and that is not what this article is about. It is about being responsibly expressive.
Whilst there are instances of elevated passions and arguments and disagreements in such interactions that take place between people face to face, it seems to have descended to a new low, in interactions using other forms of communication – especially on Social media – Facebook, Twitter and the like. Look at the trolling that takes place – and every person is passionate about what they believe to be “the right cause” which almost always happens to be “their cause.”
I started thinking about this and pondering over what leads normally nice and polite people to be extremely rude, making statements that are blatantly offensive, and personal attacks on others, especially those who would normally be considered friends. I have been seeing multiple posts on social media page, which is descriptive of this malady of being rude, offensive and disrespectful to friends, and sometimes even to those the person does not know at all. One of these communications went like this,
“I never asked you to participate in this discussion. I don’t need your comments, or your rude, childish, behaviour. Mind your own business and keep your nose to yourself. You will be doing a great favour to me, and to others on Social Media by keeping quiet. Please do not post any more comments on this interaction. If you post anything on my feed anymore, I will delete every single word.”
Talk about being direct, rude and emphatic!
And there are some that are even worse than this in terms of being rude, offensive and even abusive. And in an exchange, if a person makes a comment that is at a variance from another’s, I also see that there are immediate personal remarks that are made. And whenever I see those messages, I feel a twinge of sadness. And then I realize that I do not know what that other person who is posting such comments is going through, and that I ought to accept them as they are. I will also admit that this use to be more than a tad difficult initially, is still difficult sometimes and the good thing is that I am making progress. And with all that, when I see such exchanges and behaviour, I remembered another statement that a person I used to work with used to say, “One must always be child-like, never childish!”
“One must always be child-like, never childish!”
In a recent social media interaction on one of my thoughts, a friend of mine posted a comment. I reproduce a part of the comment that is relevant to this chain of thought.
“There is propensity to unsociable conduct in many people. But they keep it in check for the most part. For example, a lot of behaviour you see on social media wouldn’t be shown by those people in direct personal interaction.”
This portion of the comment made by my friend is particularly striking, interesting and quite important. This “rudeness” that is is seen so openly on social media, and sometimes directed towards people that a person does not know personally, is depictive of a deep rooted, ingrained animosity, and yes, also of the bully that resides within. To me, it depicts the “animal survival instinct” that all beings are probably born with. From time immemorial, and even in terms of evolution, the most adaptable and strong beings have survived. Those that focus on their own survival, even if it means killing and getting rid of another is an evolutionary trait.
Once I was traveling and waiting for my flight at the airport lounge. A family with a young child walked in. The mother had packed some food for the family, and they had chosen to sit in the lounge and eat their food, rather than the food at the lounge. The child was about 3 or 4 years old. I noticed that even though there was enough food that the mother had packed, and there was some really nice food available at the lounge, the child was still not truly happy. The child kept on insisting that all the food there was for her. And the mother kept saying, “Don’t worry, it is all for you.”
However, the child kept insisting that all the food there was only for her. And the mother kept repeating that it was all for the child. And from what I could see, there was enough and more there for every member of the family, including the adults! This child was being “childish” and not child-like. Child-like innocence and curiosity are very useful, especially while learning.
Viktor Frankl in his book, “Man’s Search for ULTIMATE Meaning”, says,
“Being human is ultimately, being responsible……….. Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness.”
So, with the freedom of expression that social media provides, it is useful, in the long term, only when used coupled with responsibility and acting with responsibleness. And with the kind of irresponsibility that is shown in many cases by one towards another, and another’s views and thoughts it makes me wonder if this freedom is useful at all?
Some points that I leave here, for my consideration and for those who might chance upon this article:
- Can we disagree without being disagreeable?
- Can we be respectful and responsible in our behaviour towards others?
- Can we exercise choice and simply keep quiet if we have nothing nice or useful to say?
- Do we always HAVE to insult and denigrate the other who’s views and ideas might be different from our own?
Whilst saying this, I pledge to and take ownership for my actions, and say that I will always be thoughtful, kind, considerate and responsible in my behaviour.
And this brings be back to the ALL Powerful Trio of Emotions – Compassion, Forgiveness, and Love. If each of us, can be compassionate, forgiving and loving in our thoughts, speech and action, it might be possible that we are able to have a meaningful exchange of thoughts and ideas. Whether this is in person, on social or any other form of electronic media, it might make life that much better for all of us.
The most common thinking prevalent today seems to be “an eye for an eye!” Whether it is at the level of a game (sledging is alright and fair game,) debates & arguments between political rivals, between riparian states, nations, communities, religious denominations and the like. That if someone says something purportedly against a person’s cause or belief, that it is perfect to denigrate and attack that other person’s cause or belief, rather than making the case for one’s own. A wise man was once asked what the solution was to a long standing religious-geographical-political problem. And he responded, “Amnesia!” Meaning, as long as each side kept wanting to avenge and right the wrongs done unto them, there would be no real solution.
And one might think that forgiving is the action of a weak minded person – far from it. Forgiving requires the greatest strength – of conviction and character!
In a scene from Invictus (What an amazingly powerful movie!) Morgan Freeman (playing Nelson Mandela) says:
“Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear. That is why it is such a powerful weapon.”
What I learnt from this simple statement is that it’s very easy to bear and hold a grudge, based on real and perceived slights and hurts. These grudges probably are due to the “ego” and the small “i.” And what is useful and important for an individual’s growth is forgiving others. This requires far greater strength of character, conviction and consciousness to forgive, and finally choosing to be responsible and kind, which is what makes one “human.”
And forgiveness is possible when a person is able to practice “selective amnesia.” Whomsoever it might be, and however gruesome and abhorrent the act might be, there still exists a choice that exists with the “victim” to forgive the perpetrator. And this is again something that has been shared and taught by wise, evolved souls and seers from time immemorial.
And practising Compassion, which springs from love, one might be able to truly forgive others.
In the book, “The Emotional Life of Your Brain,” by Richard Davidson PhD and Sharon Begley, is a passage which is reproduced here –
“Despite the scientific failure, I felt we had succeeded on another level. One of the monks had been held for many years and tortured in a Chinese prison in Tibet, finally escaping to Dharamsala. He described to us in haunting detail the moment-by-moment changes he had experienced as a result of compassion meditation, which he practiced regularly during his captivity. The sadness and despair and anger that initially filled his mind, he explained to us, gave way, a little more each day, to a feeling of compassion, including for his captors, whom he began to view as suffering from an affliction of the mind not of their own doing and so, in a sense, as being fellow sufferers. Surely, I felt, this extraordinary capacity could teach us something about the mind and the brain.”
And there is enough research that has shown that the practice of Compassion literally changes the physical structure of the brain. Making people calmer, happier and as a direct result HEALTHIER!
So it might be useful to develop and use at all times the ALL POWERFUL TRIO OF EMOTIONS – Compassion, Forgiveness and Love, if not for anything else, for one’s own sake – of being happier, healthier and at peace!