Being born and brought up in a middle-class Indian family, the warning sign I always received from my parents – “WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY?” (In Hindi, Log Kya Kahenge?). The moment I hear this question, my mind starts singing the Old Bollywood song – “Kuch toh log kahenge, logon ka kaam hai kehena. Chodo bekar ki batton mein kahin biitna jaye reyna” (People usually talk behind others, that’s there very habit of doing so. But it is better to leave such meaningless matters before the night fall). Whenever anyone poses this question before me, my defense is – “By birth, every individual is Free to Think and Free to Talk. When God and our Constitution cannot put a barrier to people’s mind and mouth. Then who am I to do that!”
Since childhood, both my parents used to bracket down my thoughts and choices with this question – WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY. Even today, my mom often quotes me the same anthem whereas Dad has gone one step ahead. He squares me saying – “Now, you’re grown up. You can make the right choice. What you sow, so shall you and your family will reap. Now, it’s up to you!” Mostly, this line slows my pace of decision-making and filters me through a set of questionnaires. One among those thought-provoking questions – WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY?
Well, Is that so important to think about what others might think!
What’s wrong if I choose what seems me right!
If I listen to people, I might have to drop my choice. Will that be a good idea?
What has people to do with my life?
We all strive to attain good things for our life. Isn’t it? Hence, God has gifted us with the freedom of choice and to navigate this freedom He has empowered us with Knowledge and Wisdom. He had made us little lower than the heavenly angels. Alongside this strength there is a weakness – each individual is finite to his set of ideas and his strength for the execution of his ideas are also limited. In this finite state, as we are confined within our mind-box in the course of time our choices and ideas become irrelevant to our life at large. Probably, that is where we seek help from outside and look for ideas beyond our desk. But, alas. By then, the clock ticks, it’s too late!
In my professional life and at times in my personal affairs also I used to ask my trusted-ones to review my proposals and ideas. I do that because somewhere down the line I saw – “WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY” was standing on my way. Every time I ask for the screening of my proposals and ideas, I have been beneficial. Does that mean, I am listening to people? Well, let me put my defense in this way – the Bible says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.” In other words, when I allow someone to interfere in my toiling of ideas, I will have a good return!
Everything in our life comes in mixed bags. I always had to choose for myself from the mixed bag. Optimistically, in the ambiguity of WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY thought, our life is filtered from flaws and shaped to set an example. Alongside, it is people whose efforts give existence to Culture and Society. Culture and Society are something that give us an identity and distinguish us into a special category. Culture and Society are moreover a virtue for us.
My American friend Kristin always becomes an Indian in our midst. Just like our Indian moms and daughters in a family, she first serves us the food and then joins the dining. Even after our food, she collects our used plates to the washbasin. It is so blissful to find a foreigner respecting our Indian Culture and instead of complaining as a Westerner, she tunes in as an Easterner. What made her to do that – the fear WHAT THEY WILL SAY when I am in their place and complaining about their culture.
To save myself from victimizing by the pessimistic side of WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY, I prefer to stop at the juncture of my mind and do a quick checklist:
- Is he a God-fearing man that I will trust his voice?
- Are his words based on the Absoluteness of TRUTH claims?
- What is the reference point of his ideas – his own or God’s Word?
- What is his story – Does he have a similar experience like my situation?
- Is there a logical flow of his ideas or just random ideas unfit and no link?
- Picture the Consequence – In the long run, Where I will be if I listen to WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY and Where if I follow my mind?
In the ambiguity of WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY, our life is always altered and becomes exemplary.
“In conclusion, dear friend, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things”. – THE BIBLE.