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My Musings

Respect, Inclusion and Humanity

I write a lot - about loads of things that matter to me. The one common thread is that I try and make it uplifting and positive. This is slightly different, slightly darker but matters to me just as much, if not more.

There have been true horrors in the history of mankind - in the past, present and I am sure they will continue in the future. When we hear of such horrors, we often feel a series of emotions - anger, sadness, shock, outrage! But like every emotion, time takes its toll on it and the feelings dissipate until we hear of another incident that arouses these feelings again.

I do not want to be another bystander, another person who buries their head in the sand and hope it goes away. I also do not see myself as someone who will shout with outrage to the public, wielding placards or arousing the crowds around me to feel my outrage, my anger and do something about it. I do not, sadly, possess the superpower to turn myself into Kali, the goddess of death and destruction and destroy all evil in this world. But I do want to do something - something meaningful, something that will contribute to reducing this evil, to eventually uproot it from everywhere.

On national inclusion week, we have been talking so much about being inclusive, valuing diversity, respecting cultures, genders, sexual preferences and different abilities. The recent incident in the country of my birth went against all of this. This week also marked the birthday of one of the most amazing leaders the world produced - Mahatma Gandhi. On his 151st birth anniversary, I think of this saying attributed to him - "The day a woman can walk freely on the roads at night, that day we can say that India has achieved its independence". I cry for India which is so far away from this independence. But I also want to channel my outrage and my anger to a more positive emotion. And the one feeling I have landed on is respect.

If we could all respect each other, irrespective of position, finances, gender, age, culture, background, ability - surely we can make the world a better place? If we could respect our environment, the earth and its amazing life - surely we can save more species and make the world more sustainable? If we could respect ethical and social norms and rules, surely we can reduce crime and make the world a more honest place to live in? If we could respect other people's choices without feeling obliged to agree or disagree, if we can respect each other's role in society without feeling superior or inferior, if we can respect each others achievements without feeling jealous or intimidated - surely life can be more enjoyable?

Reading about the human mind, scientists have now told us that we do not even use a tenth of what our mind is capable of. Think about that - if you do not use a fraction of what you're capable of, then you're capable of so much more. We look at famous people, successful people and look at them with awe. Wow, Einstein was so intelligent, Mother Teresa was so kind, Mandela was so brave and Da Vinci was so creative. But if we are only using a fraction of our minds, surely they are indeed not that different from us - but they are humans who discovered how to use more of their potential, hone more of their passion and craft their life in a particular way. What am I getting at? Well - the fact is that all of us are equal - we have been endowed with skills (some obvious, some not so obvious). But some of us are more privileged than others - but this doesn't mean that they are any lesser than us.

If you can influence a single person (including yourself) to show that respect to others, irrespective of anything, I feel the world can be a better place. By respecting others, I am not saying that you should respect heinous crimes and acts. You cannot respect people who belittle, bully or hurt others. But what you're standing up against is that act! Not that race or tribe or group! And by respecting others, I do not mean that you ignore your beliefs and accept all beliefs. I am not political, but there are some political decisions made by close acquaintances that I disagree with. But disagreeing with their beliefs does not have to mean that I do not respect them any more.

This quality of respect can multiply and spread just as evil does and eventually overtake it. Mahatma Gandhi got India independence through non-violence. If we can now focus on respect - and respect each other, no matter what, then maybe, just maybe, one day I can walk the streets of India at night as a woman, freely.

I leave you with a slightly modified version of my favourite poem (with apologies to Rudyard Kipling) as a parting thought:

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue

Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch

If you can respect anyone , whatever their gender, tribe or hue

If all beings count with you but none too much

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With 60 seconds worth of distance run

Yours is the world and everything in it

And what more, you will be a human, the true one!