I was at my daughter’s school for an event. The school was plastered with posters encouraging parents to participate in a blood donation camp being held at the same time.
As I was leaving the school, a student hailed me. “Ma’am, there’s a blood donation camp going on. Would you like to volunteer to give blood?”
“It won’t take time, Ma’am, it’s very quick, and the organization doing it is one of national repute so you don’t need to worry about hygiene and safety.”
“Do you have any disease, Ma’am? Anemia? Diabetes?”
I denied suffering from any disease.
“Then why don’t you want to give blood?”
I repeated that I didn’t.
“Ma’am, do you know, by giving blood today, you could be saving the lives of three people?”
I agreed that that might be so.
“So you’ll donate blood, Ma’am?”
Disbelief. Incredulity. Shock. “You mean you don’t want to save lives?”
I said I didn’t want to give blood.
Her voice rose by many decibels. “Ma’am, you mean you really don’t care whether these people die?”
I smiled and told the student, “Those are your words. What I am saying is that I don’t want to give blood.”
And I walked away.
She didn’t draw blood. (Pun intended. :-))
But I was slightly uncomfortable. And that made me think.
If I, as a thinking adult, could be made uncomfortable by a child asking me questions from a script she’d been made to memorize, about an issue she had no clue about (except what had been taught to her), how would a child handle such manipulative tactics?
And why was I uncomfortable?
It was (and is!) my blood. I’m supposed to volunteer it, if at all I decide to do so. If I don’t, that’s my choice. So why the pressure? Why was I being forced to ‘volunteer’?
We all like to think of ourselves as ‘good’ people. And we are good. But we’re not ALL good. We know that. And that’s okay.
But when it comes to others, we want the world to think that we’re GOOD – we’re ALL good. There’s not a mean bone in our bodies. We’re sweetness and light and selflessness and …
Have you ever met a person who seemed to be all good? At least initially? If you have, then you’ll know that there can be just 2 opinions about such people.
They are annoying. And they are boring. That’s it.
If you haven’t met a person who is all good, thank your lucky stars you’ve been spared one of the more irritating experiences of life.
Knowing this, we persist in trying to make the world believe that we are ‘good’. Incredible! On top of that, we pride ourselves on being intelligent! How delusional can we be?
And our children? Manipulated every which way by everyone they meet till they don’t know whether they are on their head or on their heels.
The fact is that nobody’s thinking about you.
That student wasn’t thinking about me. Rather, she thought about me only because I didn’t do what she wanted of me. If I had agreed to ‘volunteer’, she’d have thanked me prettily, and dismissed me from her head immediately. Her sole concern was to get as many ‘volunteers’ to donate blood as she could. She used every means at her disposal to get me to do so – short of saying I killed three people (or would, in the future) because I refused to donate blood!
Every day, you come across different types of manipulation. People simulate admiration, awkwardness, anger, shame – the entire range of emotions to get specific reactions from you. Left to yourself, would you have acted the same way? Would you have responded the same way? Would you have made the same choice?
Perhaps. Perhaps not.
The more you get in touch with yourself, the more time you spend finding out what you believe, what is important to you, the easier it is to live happily.
Just imagine it! Here’s the world, trying to get you to do all kinds of things and you go your merry way. After a bit, they’ll drop the shocked reactions. They’ll realize you’re not playing their game.
Freedom! Unutterable joy! And as you wallow in this joy, you can share it and pass it on to your children. You can give them the ultimate gift – an unfettered life. Sure he’ll ask you lots of questions. “Why didn’t you give that beggar money? You say we should think of people less fortunate than us. Why didn’t you give her something? You ask me to share. Why didn’t you?”
Take the time to answer his questions. You might answer them over the course of many conversations over weeks. But the very fact that you are willing to engage in a discussion with him will reassure him. Your confidence will comfort him. The ease and poise in your eyes and voice and body will hearten him.
You see, he doesn’t care what others think. He cares what YOU think. And if you can show him that there is a method behind your ‘madness’, a reasoning behind your attitude, he will be at peace. Equally important, if you have taken the time to sort out how you feel about an issue, you will be clear. And you will be consistent in your response. Each time, your behavior will stem from the same logic. If you make an exception, you will consider it well before you do so. And you will make it a point to explain to your child why you have made an exception.
You believe in something. You live by it. Your child learns too, to believe in something (though you have to be prepared that it might be something different from what you believe in! 🙂 After all, he is his own person). He too, lives by it.
A sane, happy life. A carefree life. A fulfilling life.
The student asked me, “You mean you don’t want to save lives?”
I didn’t answer her, but I’ll share my thoughts with you. I believe I can make a difference. Everyone can. But saving a life?
My ego isn’t big enough to let me believe I’m so important I can save a life. Nobody is so important. Not even the super-specialist doctor. She can make a difference, but thinking that she’s saving a life is the beginning of a disease I pray I don’t fall prey to.