Friday, December 2, 2011
The Second Alternative
The Second Alternative
Two brothers grew under an abusive, alcoholic father. Their father had been in and out of prison many times. When the children grew one of the brothers became like his father. ‘Like father, like son’. He was in and out of jail many times; he was abusive and alcoholic too. Whenever asked about his condition, he would say, “My father was like me, I grew under him what else do you expect?” His brother though took another path, he became a gentleman, working in a big company, and he was never abusive or alcoholic. When asked about his successful life his answer was no different, “My father was abusive, alcoholic, I grew under him, so I became what I am today what else do you expect.” Friends, in life at every turn we encounter situations, good and bad and the turn-out of our lives depends on what path we choose, React or Respond! Two roads diverged in the woods, and I took the one less travelled by and that has made all the difference.” These words are carved in our memories for eternity by the great poet Robert Frost.
What is Reacting? Reacting is a negative word. It doesn’t distinguish me as a human being from animals. Animals can react not respond. If you beat a dog with a stick it response is limited to two actions: fleeing or making you flee! In the olden times people reacted because till then that was the best option and awareness they possessed so many of our religious books are filled with examples of God allowing reaction. Hark! God is not unjust, but he worked through human beings and their understanding of him. So we have many of the scriptures of the olden times filled with pictures that could be summed up, “Eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth.” In simple language you harm me, I return you with the same limited response, I too harm you.
What is Response? Gandhi was thrown out of a train compartment which was only meant for the ‘white people’. He responded not by reacting but responding with a freedom movement in India which were based on principles of Truth and Non-violence. Jesus said, “If somebody slaps you on one cheek, give him the other.” Strange! But it shows that we as human beings are different from animals. We are given the God given ability to respond to a situation instead of reacting. Response is positive. It’s choosing the second alternative! We have many examples in history of them, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Buddha etc.
Conclusion: Choose your alternative from the given: It’s a lousy day vs. It’s a great day, Frown vs. Smile, Dwelling on curses vs. Blessings, Busybody vs. Busy-bee at work place, Treating client, customers and business partners as trash vs. Kings and Queens, Giving self to short term pleasures vs. Being patient for long term benefits, fear vs. faith. I hope we all graduate to choose the second alternative, to respond!