Empathy – Is it so difficult?

Today, I write with a heart that isn’t able to understand where humanity has disappeared into. Recent events in India have been disturbing and conflicting and one thing has been missing. That one thing is called empathy.

The Farmers Protest in India has been riddled with misinformation, misbehavior of a few and a lack of empathy from the nation. Whether the Farm Bills are right or wrong isn’t my issue here and that is something the Government has to work with the Protestors on. My issue is why has the country lacked empathy and when I say country, I specifically mean its spokespersons like Bollywood, Politicians (regardless what wing you are), Large Corporates, Spiritual and Religious Gurus and organizations etc.

Around 70 protestors have reportedly died, many are still protesting in very cold conditions and some of these people are the elderly and young children. People who are risking their lives regardless of the outside conditions are protesting against the Government. Instead what has the Indian Government done – absolutely nothing. Not even empathy has been shown, forget compensation.

While I sit here writing this in a centrally-heated home in the United States and still feeling cold, I cannot even imagine what an elderly farmer must be going through in the biting cold in Delhi or wherever in India they are protesting. But one thing is for sure, this isn’t fair to the protestors. They have been protesting for over 3 months and that during a pandemic but the empathy from our leaders, our celebrities, our religious/spiritual gurus has been missing.

Empathy is something that every emotionally intelligent person should feel. The pain of someone else, we should feel this. The thought of another in pain should make us shudder. This is something basic that we should all feel. Instead what we get is distraction from the actual issue. We get a few Bollywood celebrities who are obviously fed from the current Indian Government to give standard tweets out and ironically state that India is against propaganda. It is an absolute joke! Why have they all of a sudden spoken up? Because Rihanna sent out a tweet asking one question! Greta Thunberg sent out a tweet in support of the Protestors and India loses its mind. They start burning effigies of a 17 year old child and the Government, these bollywood celebrities, spiritual gurus say nothing about this? They don’t condemn this?! This 17 year old has done much more humanitarian work for the environment than all of these celebrities put together. Instead they tell people like Greta, Rihanna to leave the country alone, it is an internal matter and say their views are propaganda against India

Now this leads me to the next point, where are the Spiritual Leaders hiding today? Why are they not addressing the inhumane response to these protestors? One Guru did speak up but defending the Government. In fact, this Guru tweeted that celebrities outside of India shouldn’t interfere with Indian politics. This very Guru has celebrities ‘interview’ him and I have to ask why does he need their help? Maybe to become popular? Make more money? Look more credible? It is hypocritical of him to pick and choose when celebrity status is important. Maybe, he should stick with staying in his own ashram instead of going to the UN and interfering in global politics or meeting Logan Paul and other global celebrities. The less I say about his actual teachings, the better.

Spiritual Gurus are known to be great thinkers or reformers, they are meant to present to us how to be model citizens. But their current response has been lacking across the board. There are a few who have understood the plight of the Farmers. But they were called terrorists by the current Indian Government and the mainstream media that is in bed with the government. I can understand the hesitancy but empathy is larger than that. Compassion is about responding with rightful action against the oppressed. Heck, I wonder what names the mainstream media and the government would have called Mahatma Gandhi today?

We have to understand that democracy doesn’t mean that a government can do whatever they like because they got the votes a couple of years ago. A democracy is about having a voice and allowing voices the freedom to express themselves, to have a non-violent dialogue about the pressing issues of our times. Democracy is all about being in the moment.

Some people may turn around and tell me that some protestors have been violent. But if you look at the language of those against the protestors, it is nothing short of violence. Calling a peaceful protestor – a terrorist is calling for violence. When you put spikes in the road and concrete barricades, that is creating violence by showing division. When you block the internet so protestors cannot communicate with each other – it becomes authoritarian rule. When you block food and water supplies – that is a crime against humanity! Every single bollywood actor, every journalist, every politician, every corporate, every spiritual/religious guru, every citizen is complicit if they side with the Government and it’s ridiculous misinformed narrative and violent actions in regards to the Farmers Protest. Silence will not do, we have to defend the right to protest.

I end with a question. Why has empathy become so difficult to feel?

Mentors

Having mentors is incredibly important and having had my fair share of mentors, I feel my whole life has been incredibly enriched by them.

It is not always about the lesson that you have learned but more about how you grow and evolve as a person from the lesson. If you have evolved then you know the lesson has benefitted you in many ways and you can continue to grow and enhance your life.

We all want a life that is holistically enriching and we can do this with the help of getting different mentors. You can have one for finance, for health, for spirituality etc. Making sure that you can make your life the best that you can is what will always make you wake up in the morning full of gratitude.

Choosing your mentors has to be a thought out decision because you need to make sure that your mentor will always be there for you to help you grow and see unique perspectives. When someone has your best interests first, you know that they are worth keeping in your life.

I have benefitted a lot from my mentors and some are not alive today, but they have helped me grow so immensely that I cannot think of my life without them. I have learned valuable lessons and this has allowed me to have a broad-mind, filled with compassion and understanding.

Mentors show you the path and walk along with you. This is why mentors have a great positive effect. They are not like role models, where images of their greatness can be shattered. However, a mentor is someone where even their flaws have something of great value about them.

I hope you have a mentor and let me know your experiences with mentors?

Radical Change through Compassion

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We need radical change and it is needed NOW.

I have spoken to many people, introspected and dived deep into my own thoughts and the processes behind it and the whole machinery outright rejects the verdict that the nation has given in giving the Conservatives an overall majority vote.

Every morning, I wake up with a sense of deep sadness that millions are in or about to face suffering. I feel as if I am young Siddharta, who later became the Buddha, in the sense of feeling the deepest core of your being watching the suffering, feeling that suffering and then taken to plight to discover compassion.

I have some very close friends and we were discussing the difference between empathy and compassion. In a very quick analysis, one would assume they are about the same, however the deeper you enter compassion, the bigger the difference is, even if it is a subtle one. Empathy is when you can understand the pain the other person feels. You do not experience it but you have the intention to help. The main aspects of empathy are understanding and intention. Compassion is when you feel the pain the other person feels. You experience it deeply and your intention turns into action to find the remedy. The main aspects of compassion are deep feeling and action. Now, I may never understand what it is like to go to a food bank, however I feel the pain if someone had to go. To look at themselves in the mirror or at their loved ones without any sense of hope but a deep acceptance to carry on, I understand the pain, I feel the pain, I can actually experience the pain and damn, I need to do something about this.

When I say doing something about it, it isn’t in the pseudo sense of ‘I am going to achieve success, get a job, get a wife, buy a house, have kids’ type of delusional fantasy. I will be protesting against the system that has created these walls, these parameters that mean success. Why should success be individual? Why does it have to always depend on me or the idea of ‘me’? What about working as a collective, so the collective aspire together and achieve success they can share.

It is hilarious when I think of the cycle of life and I wonder if I will be the same. When we are given values from our parents, we are told to share and do things together because together we are happy as our own happiness radiates to everyone. Later on, as we get older, the story changes and it is all about my grades, my university has to be better than my siblings and competition breeds the individual and sharing becomes a distant dream. Being in the community will be a waste of time. Even concentrating on the true sense of the individual like meditation will be seen as time that could be used for studying or profit-making. Then we have kids and we instil the same values as our parents did to us. Finally, we come face to face with the hypocrisy.

Damn, the flashbacks begin. What happened to us? When did we become so distant from others and our own values? When do we turn back on the idealistic world we have created around wealth and come back to a reality of sharing with others, having that sense of community and living moment to moment? When do we transform into that child again? People tell me that if we all became children again there would be chaos. My reply is looking at the poverty in the world, the all-encompassing suffering, the attack on the vulnerable and those who need our love the most, can you tell me this isn’t chaos? The only reason it exists is because we think we are ‘mature adults’. The fact is we remained adolescents, growing with the enticing nature of competition and individuality, only that when we grow older, we have a few lines and wrinkles to state we are adults.

Today, the politics that I believe we should aim for is a holistic one. Not one just based on economics but one based on happiness. Without happiness, even wealth becomes a poison. We have to understand that we have to close the gap between the rich and poor, we have to get rid of food banks and source our food locally, we have to stop the privatisation of our health service and make it accessible and free to all, we have to embrace the elements we have to create renewable energy. The time to make the change is now. Life will always be awesome, whatever the situation but that doesn’t mean we can’t evolve the awesomeness to new heights. We can do this, if we are all together.

Join me on the 20th June, outside the Bank of England and let’s begin the revolution of happiness!

His love and blessings,
Rahul