Friday, 18 November 2016

Who Comes First?

Every time I am on an airplane one particular segment of the pre-flight safety briefing grabs my attention. It is about the use of the oxygen masks in an emergency. Flight attendants stand up in the aisles and demonstrate the process of the use of oxygen masks to passengers, while another flight attendant narrates over the public address system. The narrator says that the passengers should always put on their own mask before helping children, the disabled or persons requiring assistance.
I find this statement very true and applicable to all aspects of life. First, one should be capable of doing what they want to do. For instance, in the situation described above a passenger has to wear their oxygen mask appropriately before they are capable of helping others. If they try to turn to other people before ensuring their own safety, there is a danger of them failing to help anyone, not even themselves, due to the onset of physical duress as the cabin pressure drops.
In a similar vein, when someone says, “I love you more than I love myself,” I find it hard to believe them. To love anyone, first you must be able to love yourself. I often wonder how it is possible for someone to believe that they can love someone else before learning how to love themselves. Loving yourself does not make you selfish. When you start loving yourself, your heart gradually fills with love for others as well.
In another instance, before we ask other people to cultivate positive thoughts, we have to make sure we practice what we preach. If we are successful in replacing our negative thoughts with positive ones, we are eligible to give lessons on positivism. If we are the holders of this knowledge, our message can get across to other people effectively. On the other hand, if we are talking about the importance of positive thoughts on the basis of information that we have collected from the Internet, books or articles, people may not listen to us because they themselves can access the same information from the same sources that we have consulted. So, when we use ourselves as an example, people will trust us. In this case it is very probable that they can also change their negative perspectives into positive ones like we have managed to do.
Likewise, sometimes I hear people saying, “I know you. You are this and that…” I wonder if they know themselves before making such big claims since it is very essential to know themselves before trying to understand others! Socrates once warned people by saying “Know thyself”. It is still relevant to grapple with the same idea today. Before investing our energy in getting to know other people we must first investigate ourselves at the deepest level; and getting to know “thyself” is a lifelong project. On the basis of the understanding of ‘own selves’ we can understand others in a better way.
Who doesn’t want to help others? Who doesn’t want to love others? Who doesn’t want to change others’ perspectives? Who doesn’t want to understand others? But one should be careful enough to equip themselves with the needed capabilities and qualities before turning to someone else. After all, how can we do anything for others if we cannot identify, acknowledge and value our own abilities, talents and potentials which allow us to make a difference in others’ lives?

(Published in an English Daily The Rising Nepal on Friday, November 18, 2016) 

[The pictures on this blog are posted here with permission from their owners or have been gathered from various sources on the Internet. If you are the copyright-holder to any of the photographs herein do not hesitate to contact me. They will be swiftly removed if desired so.]

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I would appreciate any and all suggestions on making improvements (as long as they are viable).