Guiding Light: Proactivity

-- Swami Brahmavidananda Saraswati

While responsibility is our freedom, we need to respond proactively and creatively to a situation. People mistake being proactive in running around and doing a lot. I saw a recent social media post by a government officer of how he was ashamed to see all the migrants walking their home. I validate this person’s angst and grief but what is served by putting it up on Facebook?

As a government official, he should be focusing on his powers to do what can be done. If the government’s resources are too stretched, rope in private partnerships. A lot of people have been helping the migrants in big ways and small. Some are arranging buses and flights for them to return home while some are taking care of food, clothing and shelter. In their own ways, they are being proactive.

They are focusing on what can be done. This brings us to an interesting point. If my emotions are running haywire, whether it is grief, anger, resentment, guilt or blame then I cannot be proactive. I need to validate and manage these emotions, perhaps lessen their intensity and channelize them into action.

Only then one can focus on what one has to do instead of focusing on what we cannot do, what is outside our power. That is being proactive. What keeps us from being proactive is the tendency to blame everybody from the government to the neighbours. What is necessary is to understand what the situation demands, how to handle my emotions of guilt, hurt and powerlessness and then focus on what we can do and do it! It is not enough to just talk about how you feel and send messages to people.

All that can validate your emotions but one needs to step beyond what needs to be done. Only then we are really being proactive whether it is a small family situation or a large social problem or an international problem like the pandemic. Every one of us needs to focus on what one can do and do it. Only then we can make the world a better place.

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