Message to Som Gollakota

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Woodinville, WA
I am Only Human
September 19, 2009
e typically encounter a different kinds of people in our daily lives. Some of them are good and kind to us, while some are not. When someone is kind to us, we typically reciprocate by being kind to them. But what do we do or how do we react, when someone is unkind to us? Revenge has been the oldest motivation known to humankind to commit crimes towards fellow human beings. A crime may not be a "legal crime", it could be a moral crime or a crime at a spiritual level - cursing or emotionally hurting or abusing others, fostering bad thoughts (thinking bad must come to those who did bad to us), etc. Since we directly did not influence their fate in any "legal terms", the human system of law and justice may not punish us. But every karma (action) has a consequence. There is a higher system of justice, known by those who believe in a higher power, that will take its course.
"Retribution comes, behold! For, if a man goes unpunished, his children shall receive.
If not, his grand children will bare the blow"
-Bhagvad Gita
Even the most virtuous among us have committed such crimes at least once in our lifetime. And the ones who are presumed to have not committed any crime, have been known in our history as saints. Often we justify our bad actions or thoughts against others stating "If (s)he has not done what (s)he has done to me, I would not have reacted in such a way. I am only a human being. (S)He made me act this way.". We blame someone else (or their actions) for our reaction, thereby absolving ourselves of all personal responsibility. We also sight the scientific theory of "Every action has equal and opposite reaction".
We seldom accept that we, and we alone, are the masters of our (re)actions. Our reaction may have earned its motivation in someone else's actions. However, the specific reaction itself is our choice. We could have chosen to react differently, but we chose to mirror the actions of others in our reaction. If someone acted unkindly to us, we chose to repay their acts of unkindness by acting unkindly to them. We could have chosen to act kindly, or at least ignore their actions of unkindness. But we did not! Therefore, the justification of "I am only human" is just a poor excuse for who we chose to become. In reality, we acted not in an opposite manner, but in the same manner as them.
Further more, we tend to forget the underlying fact of "equal and opposite reaction" theory applying to our own actions as well. We also tend to overlook the resultant chain reaction to our reactions. Take the example of a couple, say Jack and Jill. Jack acts badly towards Jill → Jill responds by acting badly to Jack’s bad actions → Jack is now more upset and strikes back at Jill → Jill continues the streak. This cycle continues back and forth until both destroy each other. Another manifestation is, Jack treating Jill bad → Jill cannot get back at Jack, so she chooses to treat Jim badly → Jim cannot get back at Jill decides to treat Jeff badly → Jeff cannot get back at Jim → and the chain continues spreading bad actions. This typically occurs at home when we have a bad or rough day at work. If our boss mis-treated us today, we come home and take it out on the spouse who has no clue as to what happened, nor has played any part in it. The psychology behind this is (what we tell ourselves and how we justify our actions) - "If I were treated better in my past, I wouldn't be the way I am today". No matter how much we justify to ourselves, and how much we throw the blame of what WE are on someone else, the fact of the matter is, we chose to be how we are today - not our past or someone else.
Unfortunately, such spread occurs faster for bad actions and reactions than good. If someone is kind to us, we are kind to them if we can be, or we are kind to others if we can be. The ideal (and spiritual) way is to be at the end of the chain of bad reactions and at the start of the chain of good actions. At the least, we be a link in replicating the good deeds done to us as fast as we can.
In conclusion, I offer the following thoughts for your consideration. Our actions, and our actions alone, define us and who we are. Regardles of what someone else has done to us, our reactions alone make us who we are. Motivations to our actions have no place here. Regardless of the motivations, how we act/react defines who we are. Therefore, to better define ourselves, we, at best, start as many chains of good deeds as possible, and watch them grow. If they don't grow, continue starting new ones. If we cannot start new chains of good, at the very least, we must strive to be the last one in the chain of bad deeds/ thoughts. What that means is, if someone did something bad to me, regardless of their reason for bad actions, I shall not respond equally with another bad action, nor shall I allow myself to be "just another link" in the chain and pass on the bad to the next. Then, we can claim - "I am only human". Otherwise, we are just "trying to be human" and hence cannot claim "I am only human".

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