– (published in “The Hindu” dated 22.03.2012)
Often we find that we are unable to get on with our parents, or siblings, or spouses. The reason is no one is without the thought of self. No one is without an ego. So there is bound to be friction when people are thrown about in each other’s company for a long time. But what then is the solution? Should one shun one’s relatives, in the desire to avoid friction? How much importance should we give to our independence? The refusal to make even minor adjustments to accommodate one’s own family has led to members of a family not even keeping in touch with each other. Siblings who grew up together, no longer tolerate each other, when they are adults. It is sad when they can hardly bear to be in the company of their extended family for long. But we must learn the art of peaceful co-existence, Suki Sivam stressed in a discourse.
Children of the present era use the word ‘self- reliant’ with abandon, thinking that human beings can be dispensed with and that life can go on merrily if one has enough money for creature comforts. But human beings are not dispensable. Nor can they be cast aside once their services are no longer needed. In fact one must realise that one cannot live in isolation, and that it is one’s family that rallies round in times of need.
The need for co-operation and gregariousness has been demonstrated in the animal world. There was a time when there was an unusually cold winter, in a place where there was a colony of porcupines. To keep warm, the porcupines huddled together. Because of the bristles on their bodies, they were injuring each other, but they still kept close to each other for, if they moved away, they would die without the bodily warmth of the other porcupines. So although there was a lot of discomfort, the porcupines stayed close together and survived. Likewise, a family is not without its share of annoyances and irritations and even quarrels. But if we cite this as a reason for moving away from our kith and kin, then we will be left with no one to help us in times of need. We need each other for our very survival. So we must learn to co-exist peacefully with others, so that our life on this earth does not become difficult.