“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” said Maya Angelou. Making people feel good is an art. I confess I don’t possess it. Not that I didn’t try to learn it. It just doesn’t come to me naturally. So I chose the next best option: stay silent when you don’t know what to say and just give as sweet a smile as you can. A smile makes people feel good.
My Christian upbringing and the Malayali cultural background have much to do with my inability to make people feel good. Neither Christianity [the version I was taught or learnt] nor the memes I was condemned with congenitally ever made anyone feel good about anything. Life is evil, according to Christianity. We are born evil with the original sin. And then came the typical Malayali cynicism which added colours and nuances to the original sin.
Wait. It’s not all that negative. Don’t judge yet. My best friends are my students who are young people and most of whom are Christians and all of whom are Malyalis.
I think the new generation in Kerala are transcending the original sin and its hypocrisy. They want someone to tell them what life really means. They know that neither their religion nor their culture means anything more than the interests of certain privileged groups which make up the rules of the game.
Why should we go by those rules? That’s the question they seem to be raising. My answer to them has been: ‘Make them feel good’. How? By our character, our views which should be informed enough, and most of all by our attitudes which should go far beyond the impositions of religion and politics and culture and whatever.
How did Jesus make anyone feel good? How did the Buddha do the same before Jesus? How did Gandhi do it much later and quite near to our own times? Why don’t we have similar teachers today?
PS. The latest topic at Indispire prompted me to write this. I had a personal interaction with a few of my students today who told me that I inspire them. I don’t know how. But I know that the topic of Indispire Edition 240 is: #Inspiration