Can I really make a difference?

One evening, as my friends returned home after a function at a local cultural association, their son, then 13 years old, expressed his disgust at the fact that many persons, including adults, were walking towards the dining hall even while the national anthem was being sung. The boy’s parents told him to compose an email, which they would send on his behalf to the Secretary of the association for necessary action. He said that nothing would be achieved by sending an email because nobody would give any importance to the opinion of a teenager. The parents replied that, if he felt strongly about the matter, he must try to do something about it. Else, he should not grumble about it in private. In any case, there was no harm in trying. If his effort had an impact, great! If not, he would at least have the satisfaction that he had tried. All he would lose would be the time and effort in composing the email.

After he composed the email, the boy’s father telephoned the Secretary to ask for his email id. The Secretary told him that the impact would be much better if his son spoke on the matter at another function the next week.

During the next function, the boy read out his message:
“At the conclusion of last week’s function, I was shocked and ashamed to see that, while the National Anthem was being sung at the conclusion of the Cultural Evening, around forty persons, many of them adults, were moving towards the dining hall. Some were walking and a few were even running.

We are proud to be Indians when it comes to celebrating the achievements of Indians like Sachin Tendulkar, Sania Mirza and Vishwanathan Anand. We are proud of our soldiers who risk life and limb to defend our nation. Can we not spare one minute, which is the time taken to sing our National Anthem, even if we happen to be starving?

If this disrespect to our National Anthem had been shown by children only, I would have tried to correct them there and then. However, since there were adults involved, I did not speak up then. Later, I thought it is not only my right, but also my duty to express my feelings on this important subject.”

The message had the desired impact. From that day, whenever the National Anthem is sung at any function in that cultural association, all attendees join in singing. Nobody walks away.

In most situations, especially those involving known persons, if we notice something undesirable happening, speaking up firmly but politely can make a difference. Results
may not be achieved soon. Follow-up action is needed in most cases. But, if we
do not speak up, we cannot expect change.

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21 thoughts on “Can I really make a difference?

  1. Our gen-next have to be inculcated with the right values. It was great for the boy to express and his father to take it forward and the Secretary to put it into action. May their tribe increase!
    Nothing is impossible, what is lacking is the will to do it: a plain and simple chalta hi rahega attitude. Duniya/Bharat jugti hai jhukanewalla chayehey. We need many more Indians to be proactive – wish you all the best in your passion and mission. You can count on my support;I can’t speak for others!

  2. It is unfortunate that the entire world has become so materialistic that all one thinks of is getting to be ahead of the rest. You are right that if one does not speak out there is no way that you can stop and reverse this situation.

  3. It is always several drops of water put together that makes an ocean. I am sure the action taken by the little boy has made a difference. Here in India we have seen people / guests rushing to the dining hall even before or just at the time when the bride is given in marriage to the groom. It has to start somewhere. I am proud that we have hope in the world, as long as the young generation shows the way.

  4. I am pleased to read that this little boy has influenced sustained change within the cultural association through his action. This shows there is always so much we all can learn from our children and learning is a lifelong journey. One should also realize that credit goes to supportive parents who encouraged to their boy to act and not complain. Finally, office bearers of the cultural association need to be commended for letting this boy to take his important message to the stage.

  5. Reblogged this on Proactive Indian and commented:

    In his Guest Post on June 14, 2014, Nagesh Kini had explained that every citizen can be a citizen-activist. Is it as simple as Nagesh makes it out to be? Based on the personal experiences of various people including me, the answer is, “Sometimes yes, sometimes no; there’s only one way to find out: just do it!”

    I am reblogging my post “Can I really make a difference?”, which was first published on July 4, 2013, to show how a young boy became an instrument of change just by speaking up.

  6. I too have noticed similar behaviour at times, a total disregard for National Anthem. I am so happy that this boy spoke up and made people reflect on their behaviour. Need more of such conscientious citizens. Why not start by becoming one ourselves?

    • Whenever we see something wrong happening, most of us do nothing to prevent it. In private, we say, “Somebody must do something about it.” Each one of us can be that ‘somebody’!

  7. YEs I surly think that each one can make a difference.. the difference need not be a Big one .. but a small little one .. for example pick the rubbish in front of your house Gate.. and imagine if everyone did that The street will be CLEAN.. that is a big difference .. and so on 🙂

    loved the post

    You know I notice this all the time , my brother plays for the national indian team.. went to watch one of his games against the Chinese team.. national anthem of chinese all players sang and stood attention and meant it when singing ..

    Our team.. players were busy looking here and there.. people in the audience had cups of tea, pakode, drinks etc etc ,, chatting .. i will say YACKING.. and not giving two hoots .. especially the youngsters .. some of the oldies like me and other were standing as a mark of respect..

    and I liked the point you made above, yes no one did anything , Maybe I should have stopped the singing and asked the people to SHUTUP and show some respect .. NOW that was my chance to do something to make a difference.. I failed ..

    Next Time I promise I will say it ..

  8. Totally agree with you. Very valid point.
    Paying respect to our national anthem is our fundamental duty.
    Change can be attained if everyone does their bit.

    • I believe respect and love for our national anthem should not be treated as a duty, but should come from the heart. Of course, that is the ideal situation. To start with, it has to be enforced as a duty.

  9. Agree. Even now, in schools, esp ours, it is the last song sung to end the day. As a teacher, one has to stand at attention and sing, and only then are the kids going to do it! I am rather sad, sometimes, that it is not done as it should be. And children who are packing their bags, or shuffling, right then and there could be better guided!
    However, sometimes the wonder of all of them doing the right thing, without being prompted, that is the true spirit of patriotism I find, and take heart from it!

    • Have you wondered why our national anthem does not inspire us as much as it should? Is it because we do not understand the meaning because it is in a language we do not know? For example, over the years, have your students been more enthusiastic about the school anthem than about the national anthem?

  10. This disrespect to the National Anthem happens everywhere. Kudos to the parents and the young boy. Thanks for reblogging! If not, I would have missed this.

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