My brother sent me this joke last week.
A teacher in a school in London announced a reward of 10 pounds to the kid who could correctly answer the question ‘ “Who is the most famous person in the world?” The Jewish kid said David, the Muslim kid said Mohammed, the Buddhist kid said Buddha, but they were wrong. Finally the Hindu kid got up and answered – Jesus Christ.
He got the money. The teacher was curious and asked him why he answered Jesus Christ even though he is a Hindu. The boy quipped, “In my mind I know it is Krishna, but business is business!”
When I related this joke to my mom, I was shocked when she stated this was no laughing matter, and that it applies to all of us. When it comes to real Life, we ignore the truth. And look the other way.
She is right. Brutally so. In our mind we know what is the right thing to do – eat right, exercise, speak the truth, stay away from bad influences, be patient, avoid anger and jealousy, respect authority… The list is endless. All of us have been indoctrinated with the right thing to do, but end up doing whatever it takes to get the job done. Think about it – bribe an official, mumble excuses when you are late for work, get impatient every time things don’t go your way, lie to save your face. Agan the list is endless.
In our hearts we know what is right, and aim to teach our kids the right thing to do. But guess what happened when I witnessed an accident between a bike and a car owned by an ex-judge of the High Court? Guess what I did when the Judge’s driver insisted that our car’s hasty arrival at the intersection caused him to brake suddenly and hence the bike hit his car’s rear? Guess what I did when the Judge insisted that I pay half of the damages? Did I bluntly ask him to file an FIR? Did I gather all the witnesses who agreed our car made no mistake? Did I hire a lawyer to go ahead and complaint on my behalf?
Nope. It took me all of 5 minutes to be convinced (by my driver, my husband and the lawyer friend) to pay up for the damage done to the Judge’s car. After all, in a court, whose word will they believe – mine, my drivers’, the Auto driver who witnessed the accident or the ex-Judge? Pure common sense told me to just pay up and leave.
If we introspect our actions daily, I am positive we will find hundreds of examples where we did not do the right thing and took the easy way out simply because it was practical. Or expedient. Or simply safer and simpler. And when we come home, what do we tell our kids? Follow rules. Respect authority. Bribing is an offence. Truth shall protect you. God does not like us to lie or cheat.
I think my kids’ faith in the entire system took a big hit when they listened to what happened yesterday. But sadly for me, their belief that we, as parents, will always do the right thing took a bigger hit.
What can I say? How can I explain to pre-teens that Life is not fair? That if you play by the rules, you will get knocked down? And that in the final analysis, business is business?