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To deal with the complexities of the world we need to stand united, and we need to do this rather urgently. Co-existing with disagreement amongst each other might be challenging but it’s not impossible, we can do this people! That is the best democratic tradition of coexistence.

It’s natural and completely healthy for two individuals, or for groups, to have divergent standpoints on an issue. Sometimes it is due to their past experiences and conditioning that predominantly shape their thinking and reactions; so we should, at least, understand and respect it without being judgmental. Denouncing someone rationally is acceptable but disagreement should be graceful and humane and should not be borne out of animosity. But what’s oddly troubling is that we get so adamant about proving our point that we sometimes refuse to acknowledge others’ viewpoints and address the possibility that we can come up with a solution together.

We can, of course, choose to be at each other’s throat 24/7 and gain nothing out of it. Or, we can meet each other halfway and then move along to the common objective of social good.

If we want to flourish, the hate, if any, between us should ultimately dissolve. We should find it in our hearts to forgive people, truly and completely. I know that it doesn’t come easy, but once you gather the courage and mental ability to reflect upon the causes of anger that you hold against others and emerge out of it compassionately, you will realize that holding a grudge against someone for long is ultimately self defeating, nothing else. It is not worth it to let your peace of mind suffer due to someone else’s actions. You owe it to yourself to fight that hatred, agony, and move beyond it.

On this note, I would like to share an example, of two great individuals who had fundamentally opposite opinions on certain critical issues but both were held in high esteem by the people of India.

Sri Aurobindo and Mahatma Gandhi, both played an instrumental part in the Indian movement for independence from British rule. They both wanted India’s liberation, but there was a sharp contrast in their approaches.

Michel Danino, a France born disciple of Sri Aurobindo has edited a book of his writings, titled “ Sri Aurobindo and India’s Rebirth” in which he writes “…And although he (Aurobindo) himself had spelt out in Bande Mataram (an English Daily) the ideals of Swaraj and Swadeshi and the ‘doctrine of passive resistance’ more than a decade before Gandhi, he disagreed with the latter’s method to attain freedom, and in particular, his insistence on Ahimsa (non-violence) as the national creed…”

He further writes, “… At bottom was a sharp contrast in interpreting the ancient concept of ‘Kshatriya Dharma’ as spelt out in the Bhagavad Gita: in Sri Aurobindo's views (which he shared with his fellow freedom fighters, such as Bal Gangadhar Tilak or Bipin Chandra pal), the use of force was perfectly justified if the cause was in accordance with Dharma.”

Their beliefs were almost poles apart but none of them vehemently rejected the other or criticized one another. And both could serve the nation in their own but different way.

They fought a different battle then, compared to the one we are fighting now. Our battle is not just against exterior factors (global pandemic, earthquake, cyclones, disputes with other nations, etc.) but also on a personal level with ourselves, against the whole new dimension of variants that are the result of continuous exploitation done by us.

We should let the message delivered by the nature to draw upon us, enabling us to rethink our doings and take necessary steps to resurrect and preserve what we have left. Simultaneously reflecting on it to map how did we lose sight and became solely invested in our personal goals, forgetting and ignoring how it’s slowly destroying the nature and affecting our fellow beings (animals as well as humans).

I feel that the only possible way to bring positive change here is that we all will have to pledge to work together and share one common goal. We have a lot of issues in hand and we might have contrasting opinions but if we share a common goal, no deterrent can stop us.

But where do we begin?

We begin with us. We need to end this cycle of selfish behaviour and understand that this world is bigger than, just, us. Things we do or say can have an everlasting impact on others. Treat them the way you would want people to treat you, care for you, love you, and most importantly respect you. Whether it is the environment, the animals, or your fellow human beings. Our own convenience should not govern how we act with them.

Also, never stop speaking the truth to the powers that be, but maybe the best way to impress upon them the call of truth is to show them our truthful but compassionate conduct.

The world is filled with deleterious things that will cross paths with you, trying to break your spirits, pushing your buttons, sometimes maybe all at once, testing you. So the moment you are tempted to give up, you are going to have to find that belief and conviction within yourself that you can make it. Never let the fire inside you die; you are going to need it to fight the life long battle against your inner demons and also the ones outside.

Photo: Even the silhouette of togetherness gives strength... sharing a moment of joy with my best friends in 2018.

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