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.