“How Full is Your Bucket?” by Tom Roth and Donald O. Clifton (2004) deals with building people by praising their strengths. The authors argued that when you praise someone it not only helps the person praised but also benefits the individual that showers the praise.
As for the individual who puts down others, he is not only demoralizing the person he puts down but also depriving himself of personal self-fulfillment.
Throughout history and in our daily lives much effort is spent on attempting to control others by ridiculing and belittling them. Not surprisingly when invaders came into a country they attacked the source of pride- holy sites, leaders and icons.
The recent sod turning ceremony in India for the reconstruction of the Rama Temple in Ayodhaya is a clear and loud message that the world has no place for iconoclasts. Such depraved individuals are no longer the heroes of the world but a bagful of shame to their descendants.
My definition of an iconoclast is one who destroys the pride of an individual or group of people. While iconoclasts are quite common there are a few people in our history who had the strength of character to fight and struggle against self-interest and work for the common good of humanity.
Gandhi was no iconoclast but a builder of men. Not for one moment in his life Gandhi can he be accused of iconoclastic misconduct. Such positive behavior can only arise from a man who had tremendous faith and self-confidence. And Gandhi did! While he was struggling for the independence of India, his passion was always to build others.
As a little boy, afraid of the dark, his mother told him that he must think of Lord Ram. Gandhi said from that moment fear was removed from him. It was this firm self-confidence that propelled him into the iconic figure that he was.
In 1956 Bhadase Sagan Maraj emerged as leader of the Indian community. Bhadase had limited education. In fact, he had to abandon secondary school after his father was murdered and had to focus on survival, that is staying alive and putting food into his stomach. Yet, with this limited schooling Maraj was able to emerge a leader of his people. As early as 1950 Maraj was elected to the Legislative Council and in 1952, emerged leader of the SDMS after uniting two warring factions of Sanatanist Hindus in the country. By 1955 Maraj registered the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and was ready to go to the polls in 1956 but with the PNM not formed the Governor postponed the elections to 1956 to allow Dr. Eric Williams to form the PNM.
The Christian Indians had better education. They were educated and more articulate in the English Language but still did not emerge as leaders and why. This is a question worth answering. Is it that the vast number of Indians saw them as enemies of the community because of their conversion to Christianity for western education? Did education and social attitudes gained kept them aloof and apart? Basdeo Panday returned to Trinidad to visit his family before proceeding to India on a Commonwealth scholarship to study for a PhD but become immersed in politics after Steven Maharaj scolded him with these words: “You people hide behind the wall of a university rather than face reality.” Panday said that “I reflected on those words of Steven Maharaj and became a candidate for the Workers and Farmers Party, contesting the 1966 General Elections and losing my deposit.” Why didn’t Panday roll over and die? What motivated him to move on and not give up? In the early 1970s Panday formed an organization called NAHY-National Association of Hindu Youths and walked the length and breadth of Couva, California, Dow Village, Esperance, Phoenix Park etc.
Basdeo Panday was a lawyer with a practice. He also had a degree in Economic and was a professional actor. He could have positioned himself on the stage graving the applause of the audiences but the stage was too small for him.
Panday, like Gandhi and all the great leaders of the world who pioneered social movements, transformed the lives of the masses with what I would term the common touch or what the academics now call social skills. A few friends boasted with me that they drank with Panday in the rum shops. One man told me that as a boy his would take him to Kartic celebrations organized by the All Trinidad Sugar Union and “Panday would go way out into the sea with the others to make the offerings.”
I had the distinguished honour of working with Haripersad Harikissoon in the Hindu Jawaan Sangh and Seva Sangh. Harikissoon was a scholar in his own right. Harikissoon said: “While a student at Presentation College, Chaguanas, I always came first in Spanish, French, English and Latin and never confused the languages.” The holder of a BA in Spanish literature, Harikissoon tutored undergraduates in Spanish Grammar while awaiting the start of a Master Program in Spanish. Unfortunately, this program did not materialize and he proceeded to join the Teaching Service.
Keshav Baliram Hedgewar graduated as a medical doctor but never practiced medicine for a single day. His entire life was spent in fighting British Rule and later, in molding and shaping the Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the largest volunteer organization in the world and the parent body of Bharatiya Janata Party. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, was a volunteer worker for the RSS.
What was the common trait that characterizes these individuals identified above? Certainly, there are many factors but the single one I would identify is humility or what we know as social skills. These men and women love people and they used their energies to lift their fellow men, not to cut them down and stand tall over them. Humility is the hallmark of greatness!