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Friday, April 25, 2014

A Lesson in “being the change” from our maid’s daughter

Manage the unavoidable. Avoid the unmanageable. This brilliant clarion call is attributed to climate change thinkers and is used by them as a guiding principle to inspire action globally to manage and avoid disastrous environmental impacts.

The slogan has also a deep meaning in our personal lives__and therefore on all our actions in society too. How other people behave or what they have to say to you or about you is not in your control. This is totally unavoidable. A simpler approach will be to manage your emotions/responses than trying to control those of others. So, manage the unavoidable. Ruinous habits and temptations__including negative emotions, depressive tendencies, fear and insecurity__can become unmanageable if you let them control you. So, simply, learn to avoid them.

Yesterday, we voted in the general elections in the Tamil Nadu phase. Our maid, Vadivu, too voted. Over lunch, we asked her how her experience was. She said that musclemen from a political party had come to her area two days ago and offered money (Rs.1000/- per head) asking people to vote for their party. She said almost everyone was disinterested but out of “fear”, of those “goons”, many took the money. But Vadivu’s daughter, a little over 18 and a first time-voter, firmly stood her ground. She not only discouraged her mother from taking the money but also influenced many people in her area not to accept the money. Vadivu says that her daughter diffused a potentially explosive situation by “assuring” the “goons” that “what they seek will be done” but without taking any money. After the “goons” left, she exhorted everyone to go exercise their free will and right by voting for whoever they really wanted to vote for. Vadivu told us that her daughter’s entire peer group was against money-based and caste-based politics and that her daughter wanted to make a beginning by standing her ground and making an intelligent choice in this election. We were touched by the young girl’s wisdom and her conviction and courage. (I am not posting their pictures to protect their privacy and, just in case, to also ensure their personal safety.) I believe Vadivu and her daughter managed the unavoidable – muscle and money power at election time – and avoided the unmanageable – allowing the rot to continue by succumbing to coercion and threats!

When each of us makes an effort and exercises an intelligent choice, we can enrich our lives and make our world a better place. It is only through several individual choices and actions that we can leave behind a meaningful legacy for the generations following us. For (climate) change to happen globally, it must first take place within. Within you and within me.

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