In these turbulent value-less days, arrogance gets projected as “smartness” and “boldness”! But the fact remains that such “boldness” reflects one’s bankruptness of soul and his/her zealous attempt to hide shortcomings. Actually humility is nothing but an extension or result of supreme confidence, enlightenment of mind and true education (i.e. not mere earning of University degree).
In this context, allow me to share two facts related to two great humanitarians who have walked on this beleaguered planet.
Before getting posted as Governor of West Bengal, the highly respected Gopal Krishna Gandhi (grandson of Mahatma Gandhi) had played the role of India’s High Commissioner to South Africa when none other than Nelson Mandela was the incumbent President of the Rainbow nation. In an interview, Gandhi shared his experience revolving around Mandela.
During a journey within South Africa, Gandhi found himself travelling with Mandela in the same flight. As the aeroplane landed in its destination, Gandhi noticed that Mandela not only folded the blanket (which he had used perhaps to beat the cold) neatly, but also personally handed it over to the airhostess with a bow, gracious smile and utmost respect and humility. When nouveau-riche “highly educated” people display supreme audacity and vulgar economic might while travelling in air and treat the airhostess as their “paid servants” or “slaves”; none other than the reigning President of the country and a living legend of the world used to treat “mere” airhostess with such humility!
It is often witnessed how petty officials, politicians to “VIP”s throw tantrums if any security personnel posted at airport, hotel or any public space “fails” to identify him or dares to check him according to rules.
But a certain Nobel Laureate named Mother Teresa, whose face was also vastly recognised across the globe, used to religiously introduce herself as “My name is Mother Teresa” whenever she used to visit any institution, even if it is located in her home town Kolkata also!
I offer to end my piece by touching another three illustrious personalities – Pope Francis, India’s ex-President Late APJ Abdul Kalam and Gopalkrishna Gandhi.
In this age of supreme haughtiness when muscle flexing , utterance of shrill rhetoric and expression of holier-than-thou attitude have emerged as the “in-thing” and leaders exhibiting such “masculinity” get instantly projected as “extremely strong personality” resembling “Iron Man” who has the “remedy for all ills”; Pope Francis stands high aloft as a stray island of civility and sanity around this turbulent ocean of intolerance and hot talk. His unique humility, gentle behaviour and gracious smile can never be described through mere words. No wonder why young people dare to touch him and take selfies with him as if he is their most dear friend! What a magnetic majestic personality with feet firmly rooted to the ground!
Often the “nationalist pride” of South Asians get shattered whenever any overhyped star or individual gets detained in a European or USA airport and physically checked according to rules. Not only do his/her “patriotic” countrymen erupt in fury, the cry-baby individual or star also resorts to cheap emotional gimmicks by proclaiming that he/she was “victimised” just because of his/her affiliation to a particular race, religion or country! But when our respected departed former President and internationally-reputed technocrat had to undergo the very same “ordeal” in USA airport, Kalam acknowledged it with a smile and utmost humility by cooperating with the security staff. Also it would not be out of context if I mention how Kalam once refused to sit on a stage just because the chair allotted to him was larger and higher than that of the rest!
And Gopalkrishna Gandhi had established himself as an extremely popular Governor through his graciousness and deeds, thereby capturing the hearts of the common people. 'Desh' --- the bi-monthly Bengali literary magazine --- had once featured Gandhi as its cover story praising his personality, noble thoughts and deeds as Governor. In the next issue, Gandhi (despite not being a Bengali by birth) had personally written a letter thanking the magazine and its writers and readers and stressing that “I do not deserve such honour”! Why don’t we learn a few things about humility, dignity and grace from these teachers of the society? They not only profess, but also practice it in daily life and make this society a better place to live in.
(The views expressed are personal)