“We are going to do a campaign. Education is not a business, no capitation (capitalization?) fees, no donation.”
“We will make posters and banners. We will make leaflets and signature forms. We will organize rallies. We will contact people on the street and house-to-house. We will collect ten thousand signatures”
The proposal looked like some sort of agitation. Have I come to a wrong place? We were talking about personal development, about being happy in life, about an internal guide and how come, suddenly this discussion on a social issue?
“Do you think it is an important issue?” Agreed. It is an important issue. But there are hundreds of issues like that. First, this issue does not affect me directly and second, even if I wanted to, what is it that I can do? Who has time for all such social noise?
“We can’t work on all the issues at a time, but at least we can make a beginning”
“If you think about it, perhaps you can do a lot about it”
“Time certainly is a constraint. But we are talking about only a few hours a week”
I was not convinced. After all, are we not deviating? We were so far talking about important aspects of life and here we have started discussing about social activism. Anyway, I was part of the group and with tremendous hesitation, I participated in the campaign.
A few days into the campaign, I started discovering many unusual aspects:
- When I was on the street, talking to a stranger and explaining to him about the seriousness of the issue, I started learning about my convictions.
- Realizing that I am doing something about my convictions enhanced my feeling of self-worth.
- At first, I was ashamed of distributing leaflets on the street. But soon my confidence soared. As a friend would say, I started enjoying looking at people who were looking at us.
- I had tremendous hesitation in stopping a person and starting a dialogue. What will they think about me? Gradually I overcame it.
- Going door-to-door, we received a warm response in some places and elsewhere, humiliating rejection. I learned to digest all kinds of treatment without any negative feelings about anyone.
- I talked to hundreds of people. Often, I goofed up, but nobody scoffed at me.
- At times, I was frustrated with the poor response. Soon, I learned to digest it and start again with renewed vigour.
- Screen printing posters on used newspapers, moving at night to paste posters and write messages on the wall, approaching people in a train using a megaphone and collecting signatures, organising a rally with a marching band and so on. For the first time in my life, I was involved in so many different types of actions. At first, I was worried about time. Soon I started enjoying and found that time was not a constraint at all.
In the process of the campaign, I started recognising my internal resistances and overcoming it. My earlier concern about the issue not directly affecting me appeared displaced as it was indeed an important social issue and working on it, I experienced the value of self-less work.
“Personal and social change go hand in hand” “When you work on personal change, your abilities grow, and you can act more strongly for social change. And when you are working for social change, it brings about personal change”
I realised that learning is not only in deliberations. Instead it is in doing something about what we deliberate on.
“Self-less actions in the world, reaching out to others without hesitation, is the way to personal development.”
I found that this period of campaign was one of the most intense periods in my life. I learned a lot and enjoyed it a lot. Now I was doubly sure – I was advancing in my journey of becoming a better person.