Saturday, June 20, 2009

Love thy neighbour or....

Recently, I was watching a TV show, where a lady participant presented the celebrity host with a beautifully embroidered piece of linen that she said had been in her family for generations. To his credit, the host tried to persuade her to preserve the piece of family history and pass it on as a heirloom to the next gen, but she stubbornly refused to take it back. She was gratified when he finally accepted it. She is not the only one to give celebrities, gifts, that they do not necessarily need or want. Often we are more willing to do things for others, neighbours, acquaintances and even perfect strangers, than for our families. In this country of ours, we pray for celebrities, their health and happiness, and are willing to immolate ourselves if we perceive something wrong in their lives.

Would the very same people who fast for Amitabh Bachchan's recovery when he is unwell, or conduct 'havans' and poojas for some leader's birthday, do half as much for their own families? Envy / jealousy is a strange thing. We feel bad if someone close to us, near us, succeeds (sibling rivalry, remember?) and yet we are enthralled by the success of those who have no connection to us. I know of people who want to help the old and infirm, but would prefer to live far away from their 'in-laws' (yes, that dreaded word) They praise the liveliness and spirit of other seniors, but wish their own would be content with a corner room, TV and meals.

Why are we so harsh on our own people? Maybe, when we see success in some one close to us, we are reminded that it could be us instead. Maybe, when it is our own we have to take care of, we find it repetitive and get no credit or gratitude for it any way. Maybe, we just want to identify with celebrities and fame and feel validated when we do something for them (very often, even without their knowledge!) Maybe, doing something for someone not connected, gives us the recognition we want.

As important as it is to love thy neighbour, shouldn't charity begin at home? As for the piece of antique embroidered linen, I wonder if the lady asked others in the family if they wanted to have it, before she very generously gave it away. For them, it might have been a piece of their history.


  1. Very true! I recently attended a workshop in Pune by the Oneness University, Andhra Pradesh, in which they helped us focus and heal our closest relationships - parents, spouse, children - and I was ashamed at how much I had taken my mother for granted, how much I had hurt my father, and how little I bothered about my brother. I immediately touched base with each of them and expressed my gratitude for their very presence in my life. It took a workshop to show me the obvious! Thank you for writing it on your blog.

  2. I think we all get so busy with the trappings of living that we lose sight of what life is actually about. Hopefully we all catch up before it is too late...glad you did...


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