Everything passes. It has to. That's the beauty and tragedy of it.
I have always been intrigued by the saying “The right to swing your fist ends where the other person’s nose begins”. It goes both ways. If you are the one with the swinging fist, you need to be careful where it lands. While one has the freedom to stand by one’s beliefs and follow one’s heart, it is equally important to be cognizant of one’s boundaries and the repercussions of one’s actions. On the other hand, if your’s is the nose that is supposed to dodge the fist, what stance do you take?
What does it take to be true to oneself and yet ensure one doesn’t step on other’s toes? Politeness is one thing, meekness is another. While one represents good attitude and good sense, the other underscores cowardice. One needs to be keenly aware of that fine balance between being politely firm and being subservient. One need not hurt others physically or emotionally to achieve one’s purpose. But more importantly, one need not bend over backwards to accommodate the whims and fancies of the “powerful”. Once there is clarity in one’s motivation, confidence in one’s actions and compassion for one’s fellow being well prioritized, taking a firm stance is not all that difficult.
How important is it really to be liked by all? Can anybody really be in everybody’s good books all the time? Is it even humanly possible to be that perfect? I think not. Even if we strive to be at our best behavior at all times, there is no guarantee that we will not fall through the occasional cracks. Everybody wants to be perceived as the best, as “Mr. Likeable” or “Ms. Likeable”. That would be a great thing, had there not been a fly in the ointment. And a big, ugly, messy one at that – Our humanness. Human beings are prone to erring and being imperfect. We are fragile and flawed.
There are all kinds of people-pleasers who will do anything, agree to anyone just so they do not have to deal with any kind of unpleasantness. Then there are those who find it easier to be bullied and stay bullied rather than stand up for themselves and speak up for what they believe to be right. Every day we encounter such people. In our social circle or in our work-places, there is no dearth of sycophants. It is sad to see that people do not stand up for themselves, let alone standing up for one’s fellow being in times of crisis. There are people who wouldn’t think twice before riding on another’s back or grabbing another’s limelight. But the worst of the lot are those who constantly crib about the unfairness of life, their bosses, their subordinates, their misfortunes and what not. They perpetually appear wronged by life, but take no steps to better it consciously. They end up spreading negativity and scouring the lives of those around them.
As children, we are taught to embrace honesty and grow up to be upright citizens. We are asked to be moral, idealistic and forthright. To be fearless. To do the right thing. But with the passage of time, innocence is corrupted. One has to learn the ways of the world or be the outcast. One has to suck up to the powerful and make compromises with one’s beliefs or be ridiculed or punished.
In the end, the question that matters is – “is it really worth it?” Is it not more important to be able to sleep at night with a clear conscience?
Even with all our human shortcomings and frailty, it is not the end of the world. We need to be positive in outlook for a healthy sustenance. We need to tap into our internal well of positivity and seek hope. To be better than we were yesterday. To learn from our mistakes and move on. To swing our palm in a hi-five, rather than make a fist to punch.