When I was on my way back home from work, I had seen a woman throw a banana peel from a moving bus. I didn’t shout out at her or make a scene by taking the banana peel and throwing it back at her. I must confess that that’s exactly what I wanted to do. I stopped myself from throwing back that banana peel. Should I have done that? Should I have taken that disgusting dust-filled banana peel and thrown it back at her? The bus had halted a few seconds. Would it make a difference? Is it my fault for not doing anything?
On another day, while walking past the public toilet at the station, it was faint-stinking. I tried walking away as fast as I could but to my surprise I was the only one with a sensitive nose. None of the Mumbai walkers seemed to want to get by faster than did I. Should I have lodged a complaint against stinking toilets? Would any action be taken? Why was the stink on its way out to the people walking past the toilet? Who was I too approach to shatter away the stink for good? Where were the railway helpline numbers I had saved? Was I supposed to use the railway help lines for that?
Yet another day, while crossing the road, I noticed how nobody could wait for the traffic to halt. Everybody performed suicide-crossing. There was no order. The moment one line of traffic stopped, the other started. Cars screeched and honked. People kept running around. Curses flew up in the air. Mayhem resulted because none of the pedestrians were aware whether the traffic was ever going to halt. Whose fault was it? Should we be taught how to cross the road or should the traffic police stand all day on the road regulating the traffic? Is there fault in the infrastructure? Were safety plans designed while building the Mumbai roads?
Asking questions and correcting others is never easy. Correcting ourselves is also never easy. We seldom find ourselves in the wrong. Yet again, witnessing wrong doings and letting them happen makes it our fault. We lead ourselves into believing that certain things can never be rectified. So we never set out to correct them. Now I do believe that certain things can never be rectified, public toilets and corruption – which stink is worse?
My question is, is it our duty to talk sense into people? Must we really spend all that time and energy into making the world a better place?
Here’s a figurative exercise and by this I mean to imagine it in your head. Please don’t literally try this out. These aren’t instructions for a suicide. This isn’t a stunt performance. This certainly isn’t the case of being high. This is a figurative approach to know that you’re ready to jump out of your comfort zone. So here it is – Instead of jumping off the cliff while you’re at the edge, take a hundred steps back, start walking and increase your pace. Then start running so fast that you can feel the wind cutting right through your face. When you’ve almost reached the end of the cliff, jump!
You jump not when you’re ready because you never will be but because you understand the meaning of doing what’s right and you pluck up the courage to do it.
People may not be ready to see between right and wrong but it is our duty to sow the seed. It could be as simple as stopping your loved one from littering. If you keep reinforcing the habit, it will sink in someday and you would be surprised at the difference you made. Telling a stranger not to litter is a brave thing to do because you know that what you’ll get back are insults and a ‘get lost’ reply but know that what you’ve told them will remain in their heads. It’s a seed to sow and sow you must.
Don’t try and make it your fault for not coming forward and making that difference. Don’t make it a habit to take that stink every day. Don’t commit suicide crossing every day. Jump off that comfort cliff and throw back that banana peel. Just remember one thing though, make sure you know who threw it.