Keshav’s comments on my blog prompted me to reflect on a common behavior.
When a child, still not firm with her steps, falls while walking, her mother spanks and admonishes, “didn’t I ask you to be more careful?” When a school going child hurts his finger while sharpening a pencil, some parents react with anger rather than compassion. A child scoring low in an examination or test is hauled up at home and in school without anyone to defend her. If a child does not win a competition, elders shout “shame on you!”
“You should have …” and “you should not have …” injunctions are popular, inducing a sense of guilt in the child. Elaborate harangues like “I had told you so. I provided you with every comfort. I worked hard and sacrificed for your sake. I also arranged for your private tuitions and special education. I did more than my share – all the faults are with you,” bombard children in many homes. Fearing that parents would be unhappy, the child works on justifying each of his acts and spends much time on preparing to defend his position. Even if with a stream of excuses and lies he can escape from parental wrath, the day would be saved. Insincere thoughts and actions leave stress on the child’s mind and also erode sacred trust in relationships.
The drama continues at school. Teachers complain about want of commitment and lack of hard work from students and missing encouragement and support from parents. Even if majority of the children do not understand a lesson, rare does a teacher think that she could do better, but finds fault with students and parents or the teachers who taught in lower grades. Parents recourse to private tuitions. This has promoted a parallel education system putting additional strain on children and financial burden on parents. Students complain that the teachers do not teach well; they detest tests and examinations and if at all exams are held, want to know the likely questions in advance. If they do not score well, the teacher was partial, the questions were tough, or the lessons were not taught, … excuses are plenty. When a student says “I was failed,” instead of “I failed,” burden of action is on the other party.
Classic quarrels between husband and wife engulf faults of family members from both the sides and end with declarations that “all men are like that” or “what else can you expect from a woman!” thus blaming 50% of human race to justify one person’s views or actions. Some consider it is only proper for couples to quarrel. Young ones through childhood and adolescence grow preparing for such quarrels.
An employee wins a transfer to his current place by several recommendations and some bribes, to take care of his parents’ medical treatment, children’s education, sister’s marriage, to be near to wife’s parents – never for his own sake. Now, he is “forced” to extract bribe from others to make up for his investment for this transfer. He is not the one to be blamed for corruption. How can he live a saint’s life in the current corrupt system? He too is a victim. As a story goes, sage Valmiki robbed people to feed his family. He only expected his family members to partake the sins of his dark deeds, and not to totally own them. Modern Valmikis expect the entire burden of sins to be borne by others.
In a road accident, fault is always that of the other driver or pedestrian. Superiors and subordinates in an office continuously rewrite and refine lists of faults in each other. We incessantly complain about governments and their employees for all our perceived miseries and absolve ourselves of our own responsibilities. “No one understands me, I have been wronged” is a favorite position.
To err is human, whatever our age or position in life may be. Not every mistake is a crime. Some may be opportunities. We can convert most of our mistakes in to opportunities rather than lamenting on each one or scheming to blame the situation or another person. The first step is accepting that to err is human and pardon ourselves, followed with corrective actions. This will diminish the need to blame others. It is liberating and refreshing. Else we may console ourselves by putting the responsibility on others and subconsciously lower our own dignity and self respect. If we repeat an action or thought deliberately, it becomes a habit, leading to automatic reactions. We all understand the effects of healthy and habits and destructive reactions.