Conversations With Self Society

When needs override wants

Can we live with greater compassion and sensitivity towards one another post the lockdown?

Post the quarantine I was asked to serve out, on returning from overseas, I had to remain in Delhi, in continued confinement and wait out the lockdown period. I do believe we can, as responsible citizens, recognise that if we do not adhere to the norms of healthcare being recommended, the virus, which does not discriminate between those who have and have not will surely consume us.

Staying at a hotel, barely occupied, and with a few staff members to minister to the needs of the few guests, I had occasion to speak to some of the staff. Like us, they too had to remain in the hotel. Brijesh, a staff member, shared with me what the lockdown and the virus is teaching him about life, and given that he, like I, is impacted, his sharing is truly poignant.

“I have realised that today I can live with much less than I ever imagined,” he said. “My meals and those of my family and even for the guests in the hotel have become simple. Wants that I have had are no longer relevant and what I need is more significant than what I want. I am lonely, missing people who matter and whom perhaps I have never ever told so. It is the same for all our guests too, who have to remain at the hotel. Anxiety, worry and fear is no different for me as it is for you and the guests at the hotel. Good health is all that matters.”

These are not homilies being uttered by one we would think is beyond the pale of human needs, but the words of a human being such as you and I, with whom we probably all share the same emotions and feelings. A possible awakening is being made available to each of us. Can we embrace it and look forward to living with greater compassion, sensitivity towards one another and mindfulness than we have lived so far, or will we return to an existence of ostentation and opulence, lacking humane values, which might cut us off from one another? A question begging for introspection.

The writer is an organisational and behavioural consultant. He can be contacted at ttsrinath@gmail.com

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 6:49:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/tt-srinath-compassionate-living/article31614685.ece

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