Yes, Together We Can
by (Capt) Ravi K Mahajan
7. DISCIPLINE & CHARACTER
You may be good in so many things. But without SELF DISCIPLINE, your achievements would remain mediocre. Invest in Discipline Today,
so that you can enjoy a Better Tomorrow.
Some point of time in this universe, all Human species must have started from the same footboard. Starting point must have been the same, whether they were Indians, White skinned Europeans and related races, Mongolian/Chinese featured races, African featured races etc. All are same Humans only, but why is it that some races are far ahead of others. Long ago, these different races only formed different Nations. Though some nations appear to be of mixed races these days, but other seem to be single majority race. As this world went through the evolutionary process, each race has different features, looks, body built, culture, eating habits etc.
Then, why is it that, some nations, are far ahead of others in economical development, Industrial and Military power? Why some Nations have progressed more than others? Why some Nations, in spite of their relatively meager Natural resources and Wealth, are far ahead than those with huge natural resources, wealth and other potentials? So is true of people too. Why do we have First and Third world countries in the same world?
Answer to these questions lies in one human quality which supersedes most others. And that is, one single factor, the power, individual and collective DISCIPLINE, creates in Families, Societies, States and Nations, is enormous. And that Power difference can be seen in First and Third world countries. It may also not be out of place to mention here that Populations of first world are, by and large, more disciplined and organized, compared to those of the third world.
Countries like England, Spain, France, Portugal etc. are small hamlets in Europe. But their people spread to every part of the world and ruled over other countries, both small and big, for long periods of time. ‘Sun never sets on British Empire’ used to be said, because a tiny country like England, ruled over 71 countries spread all over the globe at one time. That could only be possible by the individual and collective discipline of their people and the power it generates. When you want to put what you preach into practice, medium is Discipline.
No wonder, in armed forces everywhere in the world, first thing cadets are taught is, to be disciplined. History records that the world over, most disciplined armies always won battles, in spite of the fact they were small in numbers. India is an unfortunate example where British, though always in very small numbers, won over much larger armies from Indian states. Discipline, which builds character in a human being, made all the difference.
The motor car or any machinery you use, works on the principal of discipline. It consists of thousands of parts, which have to work in most cohesive and organized manner to make the whole machinery function in the desired manner. That’s what happens in human beings also. A disciplined and organized human being also functions like the well oiled machinery, having been tuned to work in most disciplined manner. Whenever any part of the machinery ill-functions, car or machinery, simply, cannot perform the desired function. Same way, when indiscipline is there, no team can function or perform in the desired manner. Discipline provides you track & direction for success.
Disciplined work force or team, is the essence or backbone of any organization. Discipline has to be inculcated from the childhood in which case, child will be a universally-liked disciplined child but if you have not enforced discipline in the child, while bringing him up, then the child turns into an abhorred, disliked arrogant individual. The difference between a disciplined and undisciplined child or adult, is for everyone to see.
A child brought up in the disciplined atmosphere, as he grows up, develops into a confident and self assured adult. Such an adult has one of the most important quality for Success, Self- Discipline. A self-disciplined person is welcome everywhere, as he is proficient, confident, dependable and is most likely to achieve his goals and objectives in life and would also be a good leader. He does not panic in any adverse circumstance and remains calm and cool. Because of his dependable nature, he is a trustworthy person enjoying others’ confidence.
Lack of self discipline, sometimes, can be fatal. For example, some time back, there was a stampede at Sabarimala shrine (Kerala) where thousands of people had assembled in the night to see the ‘divine light’. Because of heavy rush and body to body touch, push and jostling, the stampede occurred, which is a chain reaction starting from a small area, where people panic and try to push each other. Unfortunately, weaker persons, women or children, fall down in the mad rush and are trampled over by stronger men who, normally, are not the victims. Whole unfortunate happening could be avoided, if people are self disciplined and do not panic. In such a small area, death toll was 102. You will also observe that most of such stampedes happen in third world countries only, where people lack self discipline.
Those 33 Chile Miners, who were trapped in a mine half a kilometer inside the earth, were saved by strict enforced or self discipline. They had no hope of survival, when they were trapped deep inside. They initially survived on meager rations, which were available to them. It was nothing short of a miracle that all 33 were rescued & survived. But for the strictly enforced self discipline for food intake, exercise, mental health and obedience, there was no way, they could have survived the ordeal for 69 days and come out of that death hole alive.
During my army tenure, most inspiring story of self discipline was told to us by our Lt. Col. Baruah, who had served in England. During Second World War, cigarettes became acutely scarce in England. British Government wanted that most of the cigarette production to be diverted to Defense forces. Just one announcement was made on BBC, explaining the reasons and civilians were asked to buy small stipulated quantity from the stores. No formal rationing or anything like that. Though cigarettes were available in all the stores, but no civilian would buy more than the stipulated quantity. That is the type of character and discipline from which nations emerge victorious.
Both Japan & Germany rose from the ashes, after complete destruction in Second World War. Japan is the only country in the world to have suffered the holocaust of atomic bombs on its populations, which almost totally annihilated two cities. They have scant natural resources. Human resource is their only, but biggest asset. Human resourcefulness develops from individual and collective discipline and character, which results into unmatched Teamwork in which these countries excel.
As I write this piece, devastating news and TV coverage of recent destruction and catastrophe in Japan by the earthquake and tsunami, is being flashed daily all over the world. Also comes the news of individual heroics, discipline and character. Following are some of the many things we can learn from Japanese ;
A Taiwanese journalist reported a remarkably touching story of unparalleled integrity, patience, sacrifice, discipline and character, exhibited by a 9 year old Japanese boy, during the recent Tsunami. While this journalist was trying to help out after the tsunami, he saw a long queue for food distribution and almost, at the end of the queue, spotted about a nine year old boy, shivering in the cold. Journalist could make out, that by the time of boy’s turn, whatever little food they were distributing, might be finished. When enquired, boy told him that both his parents and younger sister, were washed away by the tsunami two days back. He was saved because he was out of the house at that time. Boy was homeless and had not eaten for two whole days.
Journalist took out his own food packet and gave it to the boy. Very coolly, boy took the packet from him, went to the people who were distributing the food and gave the packet to them. Journalist was stunned to see that, but the boy explained that whatever food was available, was to be shared. That’s why he gave that food packet also to the food-pool being distributed. Journalist could only look away and cried.
Such is the discipline and character, by which, the nations are made. This is the main difference between first and third world countries. Indeed, 1.21 billion of us, need lot to learn from that 9 year old Japanese boy. It will be a big mistake on our part to think, that nations are made from 8-9% growth, which we have been having for quite a few years. Nations are made from the kind of Discipline, Character, Compassion, Giving-Sharing-Helping attitude, Sense of Fairness, Duty and Sacrifice exhibited by the Japanese in General and this nine year old boy in particular.
Recently, entire country was overwhelmed and overjoyed by our cricket world cup win. Entire nation was euphoric. Consequently our cricketers, most of whom already would fall in super rich category, were flooded with largesse of crores in cash, land plots, cars and what not, mostly by various governments and few private persons. I am myself a cricket fan and got, perhaps, the biggest thrill out of this world cup win but was very much pained to see that none of the team members, refused to accept the largesse or offered to give, even a part, or share with sports-persons in other domains, who have to fight with sports administrators for every rupee. More you have, more you want but please do not blame our cricketers, since most of us would have done, what they have done, given a chance. We must learn discipline and character, sharing and giving, from that 9 year old Japanese boy, if we want to be proud of being Indian, our heritage, our nation.
We are a third world country and a developing country, not because Indians are inferior to Europeans or Japanese individually. It is because we are not empowered by discipline and character. We lack self discipline. Unfortunately, discipline has not been given due importance in our schools and colleges. Right from the beginning, a child is taught directly or indirectly that his sole aim in life is to make money, somehow. People will laugh at you if you talk of discipline and character. Money making, by hook or by crook, has become the sole aim of most peoples’ existence.
Unless discipline and character building, is taught in our schools as a subject and strictly enforced, we can never hope to become a nation, at par with other developed countries even after decades. Even if we become a financially strong nation and remain poor in human aspects, we can never be proud of our country, if the citizenry, by and large, remains devoid of discipline, character, giving-sharing-helping attitude and dignity exhibited by the people in general, in the first world countries.
Discipline and character are habit forming. We cannot be a person of discipline and character in parts. And good habits are deeply ingrained in our mind to have the best effects. You cannot start or stop with a habit. You can pull out a small sapling from the ground with ease, while little bigger plant, with little more difficulty but you cannot uproot a bigger tree, because its roots have gone deep within the ground. Same is true of habits, good or bad. A person of discipline, character, emotional control, high self esteem, positive attitude, will always find it easier to tide over adversities, difficulties and other problems patiently with determination and strong will which would have become his habit, while another person with same problems but not in the good habit of above described virtues, will find it very hard to get over such adversities in life.
Only way we can discipline others, is by disciplining ourselves first, for which we have to enforce self discipline. Individually, start your day on a promising note with self discipline. Send the laziness for a toss and get up early, which will add much needed extra time to your tight schedule and routine. Begin the day on a healthy note, with a morning walk and exercise regime. One hour of workout, shall leave you more energetic for the rest of 23 hours. Impose self discipline on breakfast table, by adding some fruits and vegetable juices and cutting out oily, tasty but fried paranthas, puris or dosas etc. Have this routine for six days and on seventh day, which is Sunday, do not break the habit. Get up early and utilize Sunday morning, playing games with friends or play cricket with nearby slum boys or do some social work near the temple, mosque or church. Just engage yourself in some activity, which benefits others and see where you are during the week, cloud nine will be the only place for you.
While driving to work on your two or four wheeler, impose self discipline by stopping correctly at every signal, giving way to pedestrians at every zebra crossing, no over speeding or rash driving etc. Imposing such self discipline on yourself, means you reach your destination in totally calm and composed state, full of energy to complete any task. Avoid excessive tea or coffee and temptation of tasty refined junk fast foods. Have the self discipline of not getting into bad moods created by temporary adverse circumstances or indifferent people. Have a light dinner, sleep early with a small prayer Thanking Him for all His mercies, goodies and generosity, to get up totally rejuvenated individual early next morning.
As I write this piece, news on the future front is neither encouraging nor promising. Food shortage is glaring at our face menacingly. International Food prices have gone up by 18% in last one year. Water resources are depleting because of human and environmental factors. Air pollution is increasing because of excessive consumption of petroleum products. Though, already road bottle necks are created by narrow roads and excessive number of vehicles piling up on the roads. Main source of world’s petroleum products, middle-east, is always on the boil and at any time, anything can happen, creating worldwide shortage of fuel, which can leave world economies shattered.
5000 years ago, on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Lord Krishna outlined a system of ethics, discipline and character to Arjun, which has withstood the test of times. Lord Krishna outlined a Gentleman to be Merciful, Obedient, Truthful, Equitable, Saintly, Magnanimous, Clean, Simple, Charitable, Sober, Respectful, Humble, Grave, Compassionate, Friendly, and Eloquent. Lord Krishna also says in Geeta, that to maintain Good Character, we must overcome kama which is not just sexual craving but also an overwhelming desire to own anything and everything, just as Power, Greed, Dishonesty and Corruption. One must control this kind of lust to be happy, fearless and successful in life. If a person give-in to such lusts, he is doomed and will end up badly.
Remember, true character of a person is tested in adversity only. It is easy to be honest for rich people, but the real measure is to be honest when one needs the money. That is when discipline and character counts, when you have chance to be honest that no one will ever find out. You are honest because honesty is your Dharma. A maid giving back large amount of money or jewelry, left in the pocket or in the house somewhere by mistake or an auto driver or rickshaw puller returning the bag full of valuables, are the finest examples. Such people are the role models of honesty, discipline and character.
I have seen enough of life to say that honesty always pays. Anyone would like to interact or deal with an honest person. Honesty, no doubt, is truthfulness, being ethical with high morals, but it is also that you have both courage of conviction and strength of character. To develop both these attributes, one has to be fearless, since in both cases, you will have to deal with forces of disruption and corruption effectively. If you do not face them squarely, you will be perceived to be supporting them. If you look the other way that would mean that you are encouraging them to grow stronger. Here, discipline and character come in handy. If you a disciplined person with strong convictions, you can take them on and defeat them, any time.
Though I am not a pessimist, but being a realist, is my second nature. We can always hope for the best, but should be prepared for the worst. How can we cope up when predicted things happen? We simply cannot wish the realities away. Human race can survive only when we enforce discipline and self discipline like those 33 Chile miners, when we think collectively and each one of us enforces highest degree of discipline and self discipline. We have to completely forgo individualism. We do not have to go very far, but in the foreseeable future of next ten to fifteen years, when the children we love so much today, would be reaching their prime. There would be plenty of money, innumerable Malls selling high end goods and brands, but supply of water, food, petroleum products and other essentials, which everyone needs, will be scarce. These children who will be adult then, can only survive, if they have inbuilt discipline & character, and are prepared to share, give & care like that nine year old Japanese boy.
Future is what we should focus on in life. I do not care for the astrology or anyone foretelling the future. But I know one thing for sure. Unless we are disciplined and self disciplined as mentioned above, we can never become what we all aspire. A Great nation! First world countries will emerge out of third world only but out of strength of discipline and character. No nation ever becomes great unless its citizens are focused, dedicated and self disciplined. Self discipline is the difference between success and failure, mediocrity and excellence, first and third world. Sooner we start practicing and enforcing self discipline, nearer we will be at our goal of transforming our country into a great country, into the league of developed world. Otherwise it is only wishful thinking.
How beautiful a military parade looks. Everything in one action, wherein even hundreds of arms going up in symmetrical manner, looks like one. That is the power Discipline generates. Discipline is the future and hope of the human race’s survival. It is only with discipline, and it’s hidden power, that we can and will survive against all odds. Do it from today, our only hope. Forgo the pleasures of today for a better tomorrow, which we are gifting to our children.
Tolerate Others, for we all have to live Together
in this World.
HOW TO LIVE YOUR LIFE
Don’t add years to your Life. Instead add Life to your Years. Pious, Cultured & Sublime Life is more meaningful than Longevity. For a Righteous, Benevolent person with Compassion and Kindness, death is not his end. With deeds and in deeds he lives even after death. So grow from inside, be Human and Sublime to ensure life even after death.
Let Good Character be your ornament.
Man judges another by his affluence and wealth while God judges a person by his intentions and strength of Character.