Good-bye, Mr Patel
Whilst I may not agree with certain cultural practices, habits, behaviours and anything else that is typical of a racial or any other group, I have no right to categorically resent it or condemn it, nor should I allow myself to stoop so low as to form generalised negative opinions about single individuals on the basis of their ethnic or racial background, or worse still about ethnic groups on the basis of the knowledge of single individuals. Needless to say that collectively human beings are a magnificent tapestry of rich colours and characteristics weaved by Nature.
I found that as I practised taking to bits the culture of narrow-mindedness and prejudice in me, I started to give myself access to a whole new and wonderful world that would have been denied me by my own ignorance. If I did not want anyone to judge me simply by reference to my ancestral label, I likewise had to re-programme myself never to form any rigid views about any individual without personally having true knowledge of that person. Reprogramming myself meant that in the inner I was signing a pact with Nature that I would endeavour, as best as possible, to live a life without prejudice against all races and religious groups. In return Nature had begun to work with me and, in the subconscious, guide me to remain as free as possible of any pre-judgments.
The real test for me came many years later in the aftermath of the ’Nine-Eleven’ destruction of the World Trade Centre by anti-American Islamic terrorists. It is well-documented and appreciated that this event has had a serious transformational effect on not just the western hemisphere but the whole world.
In the immediate aftermath of the event came the strongest ever anti-Islamic fervour resulting in declarations being made by the American and certain other nations’ leaderships to “fight terrorism”. Most of the western world was moved by the event and began to be carried away by the call to fight terrorism. Every individual’s life has been affected by the ‘Nine-Eleven’ event in its aftermath. I could sense anger and cynicism towards Moslems on the part of many people, including some of my friends and relatives. I found this initially to be spiritually most unsettling as I wanted no part in any hateful outpourings against any racial or religious groups.
There was turmoil in my mind. “If the whole world is affected by this and is endeavouring to fight terrorism, what is my part in it? What do I have to do to make my contribution? I have no weapons or desire to physically fight or destroy anyone, including any terrorists. These terrorists chose to die, and more are willing to destroy themselves as suicide bombers, thinking that their cause will survive them, and those who die fighting for a cause, become martyrs. There are countless others who are waiting to die. These terrorist instincts, if indeed that is what they are, reside in the hearts of men and women who are passionate believers in a system. This is an ideological conflict, not a territorial war. These terrorists appear to be fighting for not any landmass or supremacy over other races and nations, but for respect, justice and fairness. They may appear to be hardened, unreasonable, intransigent, highly emotionally-charged, hateful and cynical. For harbouring these emotions they cannot be destroyed, but their emotions can be changed. This war is not won with weaponry, armaments, bombs and armies of soldiers. How can anyone engage in combat with someone who is willing to die anyway? That approach is futile. That being the case, how can anyone defeat such a person?” I spent weeks in deep reflective contemplation and deliberated over this matter.
When I finally gave up striving hard for an answer, the Higher Force of inner wisdom came to my rescue. The answer came in a flash and stood right before my eyes.
In the highly acclaimed business television programme, The Apprentice, one participant said to another something along the lines of, “I don’t care about your success. Your success is my failure.” Such a culture is symptomatic of an emerging society of highly selfish, individualistic and shallow thinkers playing a zero sum game. Success does not come from defeating anyone but from creating something. This individual forgot that she was there because her mother had succeeded in giving her birth; she was educated because various teachers had succeeded in educating her and she was on that programme because numerous individuals had succeeded in putting the programme together. Success will breed success.
The psychological fragmentation and spiritual void that I discern all around are overwhelming. Faith has been replaced by science and technology. This is a different world – a world of individuals infused with rampant consumerism where self-service takes precedence over self-sacrifice. This is a world of celebrity culture in which people care more for how they look than what they see. Everyone wants to be someone rather than himself first, and is thus living a life of frustration. Wanting to be someone implies dissatisfaction with, and possibly contempt for, oneself. One would rather imitate someone else and wear a fake or borrowed personality to go through life. The idea of changing from within to bring about a self-transformation has no appeal. It is common amongst many people to lay blame on their past and their heritage for their shortcomings.
There is no appeal in being a private citizen and doing low-key public good. Acknowledgement and publicity of one’s good deeds are essential prerequisites as just rewards for these deeds. These words of Krishnamurti are an apt reminder of what happens when we want to be someone: “We all want to be famous people – and the moment we want to be something, we are no longer free… you can be creative only when there is abandonment – which means really when there is no compulsion, no fear of not being, of not gaining, of not arriving.”
Ruthless pursuit of success at work at the expense of others is quite common amongst many young people. In this zero sum game ‘scoring goals against others’ is preferred to ‘sharing goals with others ’. Prosperity means accumulation, not enriched life. People appear to be rich in material wealth, but poor in time. There is no time for others, hence there is hardly any investment in relationship building. In many instances lack of family ties is destroying relationships and causing excessive violence.
The result, evidently of all this, is emotional insecurity and moral ambiguity.
Thus, on my return to England I saw a world that posed many challenges and equally opportunities for the likes of me to strive towards becoming one in a million, rather than of a million.
The current system places far more emphasis on teaching subjects like maths and science and to conform to the societal norms and standards rather than educating children and character building. Thus no avenues are created to ask the big questions about life at a young age or to follow one’s inner calling. You either fall in line or deviate and be branded a troublemaker. Matters of heart and soul are secondary to matters of brawn and brain. Knowledge without character is one of Gandhi’s seven deadly sins which he said will destroy our civilisation. Knowledge without strong principled character is worse than little knowledge.
Winning the race generally seems to be more important than actually running it. Nobody appears to care for losers. Over the years of my life, I have had very many successes in the academic world as well as on sports fields, but on reflection I have found that after every success, be it passing an examination with distinction or winning a sports accolade, there was an anti-climax, a kind of vacuum inside me and a loss of immediate purpose and certainly no discernible joy. The real joy, I am certain, was in the process of studying for an examination or training for a major sporting event, and any minor setback gave birth to a stronger purpose to succeed next time.
The application of various methods of manipulation appears to be justified in all walks of life with little care for mores. Teachers and schools are apparently judged by the number of pupils passing at good grades. Teaching has become more target-oriented as in a commercial business, and the true purpose of teaching is marginalised by the need to remain within financial budgetary allocations. Doing the thing right is more important than doing the right thing.
Profiteering at the expense of the gullible public is so endemic amongst a number of business enterprises and institutions that it is almost regarded by many as ethically acceptable. Distortion and misstatement of facts and broadcasting distasteful and odious programming to glamorise television for ratings gains has become a new culture.
Life appears to be all about being in a competition; many young people fail to realise that competition is only necessary when all are racing for one prize, and if everyone tried to be unique in their own way, competition would become irrelevant.
Difficult though it was, in my work with my clients I tried to refrain from forming any negative judgments about them. If I did not feel comfortable with what they were expecting from me, I simply walked away from them. I did not impose my ideas on them but strived to identify issues of concern and find solutions jointly with them. Most of the assignments were of a specific nature and not repetitive or permanent.
I derived immense satisfaction from leaving lasting positive impressions on my clients, from some of whom I learnt that I had actually been instrumental in bringing about a meaningful change, not only in their organisations, but also in their personal lives. I have personally learnt a great deal about human nature and behaviour and, more specifically, about the unique qualities of those who are successful in business. There are various ways to define successful, but in this instance by ‘successful’ I mean those few I came to know, socially and professionally, who have amassed material wealth and improved their physical lives having started with humble beginnings under very stressful conditions and adverse circumstances.
These individuals single-mindedly pursue a thought or an idea with clarity, eagerness, passion and joy to manifest their reality. They have no fear of failure or of being criticised or ridiculed. Whilst continuing to fine-tune their constantly flowing desires of what they would like to possess, achieve, know or experience, they exude a high degree of enthusiasm and energy to fulfil their desires, remain patient, but supremely optimistic, about the intended outcome and see no insurmountable storms, potholes or bumps on the way, but only the end result.
ISBN 978-1-4520-1458-6 | Published by AuthorHouse
ISBN 0956292003 (UK Only) | Published by Langshott Leadership Foundation