The Scamp and the Prime Minister

What do I mean when I say that it is better to not have high expectations of ourselves and others? How can that change your outlook on life?

I got started on this train of thought when friend of mine messaged me after reading an article I posted in 2019 prior to the Indian General Election. Link to the article is below. It is an anecdote from the Mahabharata. Basically it gives all the qualities that the sage Narad muni expects of Yudhishthira who is to rule the kingdom.

A friend of mine messaged me saying that not just the rulers but all of us need to cultivate these qualities. I thought nothing of his comment at the time but recently when I was going through my blog, I remembered his comment. And on closer thought I completely disagreed with my friend.

Bu what is the harm of setting high standards of ourselves, you may ask?

The first reason is that all these qualities are not required of anybody except people in high positions of power. I, for example, have a mental ailment, am broke, unemployable and have none of the qualities listed in the article above. What would I gain from beating up on myself because I do not have the qualities that Narada muni speaks of? I would get depressed and stay depressed.

It is enough for a person in my position to avoid responsibilities that I will not be able to fulfil. I should not join politics for example.

A second reason is that we generally judge people by the standards that we take to be sound and have set for ourselves. As Shakespeare says in Hamlet:

To thine own self be true and then it follows as the night the day that thou cannot then be false to any man.

If I start judging others by standards that only a person of the calibre of Yudhishthira can meet then I am likely to find all of humanity falling short. And by so judging people I am likely to not like their company and will be friendless.

As the Bible says: Judge not that you be not judged.

The Holy Quran also says that man is generally hasty, foolish and unjust.

That being the case it is advisable for us to not hold people to very high standards starting with ourselves. There have been many occasions when I myself have been foolish and unjust. Now I just accept that as being human. And I am much more accepting of others and myself and am happier as a result.

The passage in the Mahabharata quoted above is – in my opinion – meant to be a guide for people in power or who want to occupy positions of high power. Prime Minister Modi, for example, would do well to introspect and check whether he has all these qualities. But it is not required for all and sundry to meet these requirements.

The last point is that all people are unique and different and we need to celebrate our uniqueness. There is room for the Prime Minister, the disciplined soldier, the person who work 9 to 5 and the scamps and vagabonds. Below is an article of mine about preserving the scamp within us. You may find that it makes more sense in this context.

I’ll end here. Please explore this site for more articles that will interest you and let me have your comments. Feedback from my readers keeps me going.

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