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India, Nov. 4 -- We are often hated and boycotted by people. They criticize us, crush us. And we feel that we are useless; no one cares for us and that all people have abandoned us. But our value does not decrease by all these thoughts and misdeeds of other people.

We are precious. We are worthwhile. Each one of us is of infinite value. For the source of our value is the Lord, our Creator. According to the book of Psalms, the Lord saves man and woman from all evils; because all lives are precious in the Lord's eyes.

"He rescues them from oppression and violence;

Their lives are precious to him" (Ps 72, 14).

You know for sure that you are really very precious for your friend or your life partner. He/She genuinely loves you. Thus, if you are precious for one person, then how much more would be your value for Him who created you with love. The love, which the Lord has for you, is everlasting and immeasurable. You are very precious for Him. No wonder that the Psalmist exclaims,

"How precious, O God, is your constant love" (Ps 36, 7).

Yes, we can accept that we are precious for the Lord. But our original question is whether we are precious for the people around us? Are we precious to ourselves? Here it is not a question just to answer "Yes, our lives are precious". What do our thinking and actions reveal? Do we accept ourselves as precious beings? Are we precious in our attitudes, in our relationship? Does our behaviour reveal that we are precious?

If we are candid and sincere we must accept that we do not often show our preciousness in our behaviour. We all say loudly in public, "I don't take bribe and I do not allow others to take bribe" (a quote attributed to the Chief Minister Narendra Modi of Gujarat). But our personal lives do reveal a different story.

In this kind of scenario, if we are dreaming of a corruption-free India and if we want to get this dream come true in our life-time, I suggest three steps:

First, we must respect every person as a precious human being; second, every one of us must try to become truthful; and third, we must keep away from every kind of corruption and must fight against corruption to the best of our abilities.

First step, we must respect every person as a precious human being. Human life is inestimable. It can never be measured by money or any other possessions. Every human being is a unique gift for himself/herself from the Creator, God. If we respect a person, many good things will follow. We shall see every person with a sense of equality. We shall also be active in taking care of other people as we are active and enthusiastic in taking care of ourselves.

We shall behave with respect with a person when we understand the true value of a person and refrain from any discrimination against him/her. We shall behave without any discrimination weather s/he is a leader or a servant, a sinner or a saint, a rich or poor person, a beggar or a guest, a boss or a peon. Every person is a unique gift to us.

Second step, let us try to be truthful. First of all, let us be truthful towards ourselves. We often find excuses when we fail or commit something wrong. But when we catch some one doing the same mistake, we attack, we criticize. We don't accept his/her excuse. We must change our mental attitude. We must learn to accept our mistakes with humility and truthfulness. Whenever we commit knowingly or unknowingly some thing wrong, we must not attempt to prove ourselves innocence. We must be on our guard against telling lies. It is natural that we might fail sometimes in being truthful. But we must not give up out attempts to be truthful. Gradually truthfulness will become our habit and we will always become accustomed to speak truthfully.

If we are truthful with ourselves, we will be able to deal with others truthfully. Similarly other people, who come in our contacts, would also be encouraged to be truthful. Our truthfulness would help to spread truthfulness in our society. Gandhiji experimented with the truth, and confessed lies in his life. In the process he became the devotee of the truth. Gandhiji was a human being like you and me.

Third step, a constant fight against corruption is the need of our times. Thanks to Manmohan Government, we have RTI. I salute the RTI activists. We ourselves need to be far from corruption to fight against corruption. Our truthfulness and corruption-free lives would be incentive to others to be free from corruption.

We say, corruption is pervasive everywhere, and no option is there without giving bribe if we want to get any work done. A partner of a private limited company came to see me recently. He said that his company gets many works of Ahmedabad Municipality and Gujarat Government. "But we have to give about 60 per cent of the bill amount in cash to authorities concerned from peon to officials, before the cheque for the full amount of my bill gets in my hand," he said. At last explaining the scene to me he said, "Father, I have no option except giving bribes. There is no other way to pay my workers."

But I do not agree with him. I firmly believe that, there is a way when there is a will. Let me cite one or two examples here.

A youth joined as a secretary to the director in a private company in Ahmedabad some 15 years back. Once he met the manager of a press to pay the printing bills of the company.

"Sir, what amount must I write in the bill?" the manager asked the young man.

This young man was new at his job in that company. He did not understand the question. So, he told the manager, "Sir, the quotation which you sent has been sanctioned by our company and the works have been done well by you. Now, I have come with the cheque to pay the bill, so..."

"Sir, you are a new appointee in your company. The person before you was taking some percentage on each bill. Let me know how many percent you will take, so that I can make the bill accordingly," The manager explained to the young man like a teacher explaining with patience to a dull student.

The young man understood. He replied to the manager: "Yes, sir, I got it now; you have done our job well. So make such a bill that you can get your job's remuneration and no loss to my company... And, now believe me, this would perhaps be your last bill for my company."

After narrating the incident the young man read to me a letter from his mother received before he joined the company. The letter read: "My darling son, you are quite new and unfamiliar in a big city like Ahmedabad. You are inexperienced in your work. But always remember that God is with you. Maintain good relations with one and all. Do sincerely your work in your office."

"Blessed are you, blessed is your mother," I said to the young friend after listening to his mother's letter. "What a nice advice and guidance from your mother!"

If we become truthful and understand true human values then truthfulness is easily practiced in our lives. Our guidance is meaningful to our children to be truthful and sincere like the advice of that young man's mother. We will be able to create a corruption-free society in the course of time. Our ancient scriptures tell us: "Speak the truth, walk on the way of religion."

Finally, let me recall the words of Dalai Lama, published in Times of India sometime back: "The corruption is a serious question. It is one kind of violence, where people are trying to realize their false dreams."

-Varghese Paul

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Publication:Indian Currents
Date:Nov 4, 2012
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