The difficulty of being good is the title of a book by Gurcharan Das. It is a philosophical book which discusses various moral issues humans face with reference to characters from the great Mahabharat. I read this book few year back and found it very engaging. The topic of the difficulty of being good, came to my mind while chatting with one of my friends on the issue of gender discrimination which is present in every religion. I was trying to convey the point that, we all have our own biases and prejudices, many times we don't even realize that, but we all need to introspect and analyze our own thinking to get rid of these things, and it is a very difficult process. It is not that easy to be good at all times. We all speak passionately about the issues or problems which we care about, we all speak in favor of some political figure or celebrity who we love, and against some who we don't like. However, many of us change our stance instantly if we come across the views from the other side. We are normally not that welcoming of the criticism directed towards people we love, we are not that welcoming about the alternate views about the issues about which we care. I am not saying that we need to agree with all those things which opponents say, but many of us get mad to see that people can even think like that. One ideal example is when Hilary supporters can't understand how come anyone can support Mr. Trump and Trump supporters can't tolerate the fact that people are supporting Mrs. Clinton. This is one simple example to demonstrate the point which I am trying to make.
By "good" I don't mean nice or not mean or tolerant here, I am using this term for being impartial or reasonable or someone who can recognize the differences and still try to look for commonality. I mean someone who can agree to disagree, someone who can see and appreciate that every issue can have two sides and sometimes there is no right or wrong. Someone who can appreciate ambiguity and uncertainty of life, someone who can understand the point of view of an atheist as well as the theist. I understand that I am asking an ideal behavior, but we don't want to give this title of "good person" for doing trivial things, right? There should be some challenge associated to reach to the point where we can call ourself "a good person."
It is not that easy to be an unbiased person or to be a really politically neutral person and criticize or praise all political options which are out there only based on their stand on various issues. It's not easy, especially because we don't get the protection from any camp, we don't feel that we belong to any herd where there are people who exactly think like us, with no arguments and disagreements, and this is not a very comfortable situation for many of us. To avoid this discomfort and insecurity, we choose our sides, we either love or hate some political leader, we get associated with the certain political party, no matter what we try to defend or attack them. We try to show that our religion or country is the best in the world and others are not that good, drawbacks of our own religion are trivial, but other religions have terrible shortcomings. We expect other's should not offend us, but we should be allowed to say whatever we want (personally, I support absolute freedom of expression). When in a majority, we think that minority should respect majority's views and behave accordingly (beef ban in India is an ideal example of this), but the same if group when in minority, expects that their ideas and values should be protected and respected by the majority. This last behavior pattern I observed clearly among Indians living in the USA, many of them supported overwhelmingly Mr. Modi and his call of nationalism and majoritarianism during last general elections of India, but got very apprehensive about Mr. Trump when he said very similar things, but in the American context. These people feared that because of their minority status, they might come under attack or suffer some angry reactions from the majority, but the same group was totally dismissal about similar fears expressed by the minorities of India. I am not trying to say that after Mr. Modi's victory in India minority is in very perilous state or they are suffering at the hands of majority, but his tone during the election campaign was not that different than Mr. Trump's tone, and I can see the different response by the same group of people, just because of their different strength in that society.
The desire to be good, is very common and natural, but the willingness to take conscious efforts to become good is not that common. We all want to be good without taking efforts to become good, and that is why it is very difficult to be good. It is tough, but we all can try to achieve it. I hope readers of this blog will try their best to be a "good person." We need more good people in this world, I don't think anyone will disagree with this statement. Let's first recognize the difficulty of being good and then try to overcome those very sincerely. I am trying my best, are you?
[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]