Pic.: Fr. Reginald Pinto
For a change, let me divide the mankind into only two kinds: Less reactive and more reactive.
And, if I am the author of this division, I must know to which kind I belong!
Frankly, there are some areas in my life where I see myself more reactive, but they are few. Gratefully, there are many, many areas, I am happy to say, that I am less reactive.
None of us has become reactive overnight. It was a habit we had picked up early in life, probably when we were very small… by watching those nearest to us… Yes, we began to imitate those who we looked up to in life… We saw them reacting, and we thought it was an acceptable behavior… and, when we did it repeatedly, it got reinforced in us… What we observed, liked and accepted became our habit, our character, our personality… and, something that shaped our destiny.
We can see this, right around us, with our naked eyes. We, the gown-ups, may have our differences and conflicts. We may fight like sworn enemies. But, what about our little children who are so fresh, tender and innocent? They play together in the ground as good friends… They come to each others’ houses… and they are untouched by our animosity and poison. But, then, there is a major possibility of our children getting dragged into this vortex… early… and, there is that danger of reactive seeds getting sown into their fertile minds… and turning into poison!
Between the stimulus and action,
there is a ‘space’… a gap.
The early we teach this to our children,
the better it is for them… And, for us too!
If we hold back from our children our strong reactions about those with whom we have differences and conflicts, if we hold back our strong dislikes and prejudices from our little-ones, if they constantly hear from us pleasant vocabulary, watch us using reconciliatory ways, if they regularly see us as broad-minded and accommodating people, if they frequently see us respecting our subordinates, never showing contempt to people of any class, caste or color… if they watch us always being constructive in life… Yes, chances are very, very high that our little-ones will grow up to be less reactive in life.
So, even when we, the grown-ups, have our huge differences with people around us, we have an equally huge responsibility of not letting our innocent children dragged into it. Our little children may learn prejudice from outside sources… But, the source that is most potentially-dangerous is when they learn it from their parents and teachers!
Hatred is a learnt behavior… Just as Love is!
Our children learn easily how to hold back their strong reactions… when they see us do. And, do it often before their eyes!