Love thy neighbor (and yourself)
When I open my Facebook each day, I am flooded with messages which are focused on self help. Business leaders, spiritual gurus, philosophers are all constantly teaching us to be proud of who we are, no matter how ugly, weak, powerless we might be. We are taught to love ourselves first, only then we will be able to love others. We are reminded that we have a right to achieves our dreams and we should fight against all odds to achieve them.
All these messages are surely helpful to boost my day. It just happened that, one day, while reading through one such message, I thought, “I just wish I received this message when I was a child. It is in those nascent years that we form the basic impressions that determine who we become, how we react to the world around us and what we do when faced with adversity.” As this thought was taking shape in my mind, I was surprised with another thought that hit me, “Oh! But when I was a child, I was taught to love thy neighbor before loving myself. I was taught to share happiness with others even if it meant being unhappy myself at times. Giving happiness to others was the sure path to heaven and to God.”
I believe most of my generation received the same lessons as well. Which, maybe, is the reason why we grew up focused on giving rather than focusing on our own needs. Which, maybe, is the reason why we are so insecure about ourselves, that depression and suicides are so common these days. Which, maybe, is the reason that we run to gurus, clinics and therapists who can teach us how to love ourselves.
If you think this is sad, think about what will happen 10 years down the line. After about 10 years of these therapies, we will be at a stage where we are all self centered on our needs and love ourselves passionately, ignoring the needs of the rest of the world around us. It is then that we will need to start another kind of brainwashing, “Love thy neighbor before loving yourself”.
The way I see it, this is a vicious cycle. Sooner or later, we will come back to where we started. For us humans, it is so difficult to strike a balance, without toppling the scale once in while. I wish our coming generation does not have to go through the same cycle as we have been through. I wish we are able to leave with them the principles of Balance, so that maybe they are better at achieving it than we were.