Once while interacting with a senior secondary class, I got into the problem of corruptions in society, and spoke rather animatedly about it. After some time I found some of them were whispering something to each other. I stopped, looked around, and said, “any questions ?”
One young man stood up and asked, “ Sir, corruption is so much a part of life now that you can not possibly root it out. It has come to stay. How can you follow Truth and Righteousness in the present circumstances ?”
I smiled, and asked him, “You are in the maths group, right ?”
“You would like to join some Engineering course, isn’t it ?”
“You shall have to write a selection test to enter a good Engineering college, and suppose you got a very high position in the success list, you shall be very pleased.”
The boy smiled, and said, “Yes Sir. I need blessings of all elders for that”.
“I am sure all your elders shall profusely bless a brilliant boy like you, and I personally don’t expect anything less than the first position for you.”
“First position, Sir ?” The boy was very pleasantly surprised at the possibility of standing first.
“Why, you don’t want it ?” I asked.
“I sure want it Sir. But…can I get it ?”
“Why not ? Someone like you is going to get to the first position. Then why not you ? What is necessary is self-confidence, and hard work. And I don’t expect you lack any, do you ?”
“No Sir. Thank you very much sir.” He was obviously pleased, and was going to take his seat. Then I said, “One minute, please”. He looked at me askance.
“Now, my son, you got a very high position in the success list, and were almost assured of a seat. Your father sold a piece of land, and got all the money necessary for your admission and fees. Suddenly you found out that you have lost your seat to some ‘powerful’ person who has bought your seat with a very high price for his son who was far down the list. What would be your reaction ?”
The face of the boy got red. He burst out, “I will kill him.”
I laughed, and asked, “Why my boy ? Hasn’t corruption come to stay ? Why should you expect people to follow truth and Righteousness when you don’t think it is possible, or even expected to be followed ?”
“And suppose you joined college, and in the first month you were severely ragged. A fellow was almost going to kill you. You escaped with severe injuries, and your father went to complain to the police. But the police did not accept his FIR because the boy involved was the son of a high profile leader. What would you do ? Would you support the police because it is alright to be corrupt and unrighteous ?”
“How can I support the police, Sir ? I will never accept it.”
“Let us think, God forbid, you had fever while staying in the hostel. The hostel Warden arranged for a Doctor to see you. He came to the hostel on the third day, and advised them to shift you to a nearby nursing home where he worked. There He carried on some investigations and treated you for Typhoid. After a fortnight, he thought you had contacted T.B. and put you under T.B. treatment. It did not work. Your condition grew worse, and after three weeks in the nursing home you were on the brink of death. You father sold another piece of land to pay the Doctor’s bills, and took you to your family physician, an old time MBBS. He studied the entire case, and said you had simple fever, but the Doctor complicated it by wrong and very powerful drugs. It took you a fortnight after that to be on your feet. But you have already lost the year. You will have to repeat next year. Besides the financial implications, the psychological challenges almost devastated you. Inefficiency in certain fields can cost lives, and that is another form of untruth and unrighteousness. Are you prepared to say that we shall accept it as the order of the day ?”
“No Sir, we can not accept it. We have to fight it.”
“Now you see, you want all your rights, you want the society should support justice, you want the Doctor should diagnose your ailment correctly and administer right medicine, you want the job you deserve, you want a hundred things for yourself a healthy society should make it available for you, but you don’t believe Truth and Righteousness can be practised ! Isn’t it strange ?”
The boy thought for some time, and said, “Yes Sir. I did not think of the implications of what I said. I was only trying to voice what someone whispered in my ear. I am sorry, Sir.”
“On the other hand, I am glad that you voiced it. Now you understand how important it is to analyse one’s thoughts and beliefs rationally, and do what is right to do. A good life is not democratically determined. A good life is judged by its intrinsic values. And if we do not stand up to the basic values of life, we have no rights to expect a good life. If you compromise it on personal counts, the trend could be very dangerous for the society. A society which is made up of people who can not see their social responsibility can not protect any individual rights. So you see, we have practically no choice in this. Values of society, and individual values are not divorced from each other. They complement each other.”
“Yes Sir, I agree with you.” The boy replied.
“And if you see how truth and righteousness do not end up as personal choices, but are social obligations too, you shall contribute well to build a healthy society of healthy people.