We love ourselves, don’t we? We only want the best for ourselves. And we like to prove our importance to ourselves time and again. We will be happy to break into a queue at a bus stop (Because the other idiots who were there before us have all the time in the world but we don’t. We do this on the sly and just slip in, or do so boldly if we have the girth to provide that intimidating confidence). We will drive past a red light, or even block a lane that turns left (even though we want to go straight) just because it brings us closer to the head of the pack (And do it with gusto because we always know someone that owns these streets. Besides the person in the wailing ambulance behind is likely to meet his maker anyway). We will carry extra weapons to a sale just in case someone gets a hold of something we want before we do, and we need to make a compelling argument for them to hand it over (By handing them a beating. Don’t believe me? See some Black Friday carnage on YouTube). We will happily push an old woman aside and jump into the only cab available (Like we couldn’t walk those 800 meters to our destination. Besides courtesy and offering help to the needy is a thing of the past). We will bribe a cop upon breaking a traffic law (Because lawful proceedings aren’t for us. But we will certainly participate in a peaceful protest against bribery).
We always seem too important to wait in lines, too busy to respond to calls and emails in a timely manner, too self-centred to think beyond our own whims, too unperturbed about our ‘chalta hai’ (big deal, I don’t care) attitude towards everything, too proud to admit that our approach hurts many around us, strangers and loved ones alike. We always want to jump at the opportunities (and in all likelihood create them) to do something when it is likely to afford us a temporary high (People also seem to resort to smoking and alcohol to achieve this state all the time. The number of heart attacks, depression cases, and suicides will increase significantly if these two sources of ambrosia ceased to exist), make us feel all important, or offer us a feeling of prominence, even if it is meaningless in the grand scheme of things (And often this is achieved by making others feel comparatively insignificant, only to boost our own flailing and misdirected ego).
We will be the first to ensure we do whatever it takes when it is a matter of convenience to us, no matter how inconvenient it is for others (Eating half the birthday cake at a 4-year olds birthday party; Flipping TV channels so incessantly, that it might have you believe that Keanu Reeves is starring in a regional Indian film, shot in space, singing a song around trees, playing badminton, and running with Wildebeests, while being chased by half of the criminal world in New York City; Spreading our legs across three seating spaces in a train that has at least two dozen people hanging on the window grill, on the outside; increasing the temperature of the AC beyond the outside temperature because we refuse to carry a jacket or shawl, while others experience the benefits of a sauna for free; and forcing people to read blogs every week, when they clearly might have other things to do).
And when we ourselves are victim to this attitude, we’ll throw a fit, and complain about how people are disrespectful, irresponsible, uncaring, unprofessional, selfish, arrogant, and add the choicest expletives after each of these adjectives. And this blame game has been going on for eons (Extraterrestrials watching from space would see a very coordinated finger-pointing dance form, worth capturing on video). We love to pass the buck around (We need to blame all those ‘passing the parcel’ game sessions we had during our childhood. We learned young). We love to blame the whole world for not only its shortcomings but ours too. Mahatma Gandhi himself professed against trading an eye for an eye (And for good reason because we would look quite silly if we had one eye belonging to us and the other, the one we traded for)
How often do we feel the need to take responsibility for our own actions? Do we ever feel the need to change or improve in order to be happier? Do we ever stop to consider the negative impact we may be having on our surroundings? Or are we too busy expecting others to alter their personality and methods, so that we could have a little less to complain about? It’s not his job or her job, or their job to ensure that life is better for us. Life hits us all the same at different stages. And it’s the ones that accept this reality, stay positive, and take responsibility for their situation, who share a better relationship with life. If we are willing to lead in all our pompous, self-serving, ego-massaging, inconveniencing, senseless activities regularly, why not in the ones that require maturity and understanding? Why not in the ones that will turn our attitude and life around only if we gave it a shot? Why not in the ones that impact us and the world around us positively? Do we believe that this responsibility is only for the likes of Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Albert Einstein, Socrates, the Spartans, Mozart, Leonardo da Vinci, Rosa Parks, Jack Ma, Jesse Owens, Steve Jobs, and several others to shoulder? We are all blessed with spirit, righteousness, generosity, strength, creativity, empathy and courage. It’s up to us to define how we use these gifts in our lifetime.
Stop blaming your kids for your misadventures, stop yelling at your wife for a bad day at work, stop cursing your client for a failed sale, stop accusing the economy for your poor financial situation, stop blaming the traffic if you weren’t disciplined enough to reach your destination on time, stop bullying people to address your insecurities, stop trying to finish your local bar’s alcohol stock in one night, and for heaven’s sake, stop at a red light.
Suck it up. You’re as much of a problem as the next person. Stop looking over your shoulder, I mean you. If we must be first, then let’s be the first to effect positivity in our lives and those of others. Let’s take responsibility for our own situations, and let’s recognize our abilities to become a leader in matters that make our souls proud.
With great power comes great responsibility. But with great responsibility comes great power. Cease your responsibility and harness the power that comes with it to create your legacy.
Me first? Yes, you first.