Respect can be Earned, but Responsibility is a Virtue

During tough pandemic times, both R’s play a prominent role. I just cannot imagine living without one or the other. Steven Covey’ book ‘7 habits of successful people’ lists many virtues as an integral part of growing up as a successful person. I believe just these 2 R’s change our perspective of what it is like to grow up to be part of a successful fight against any kind of challenges that humanity as a whole may face.

I earned my respect when I was just four year’s old. It was just a matter of watching the rice cook in a pot without getting the bottom burnt. I was just told to watch out for the water to evaporate from the pot and call out some one to turn to stove off. As I was watching the pot of rice cook, I was not only amazed at the power of fire steaming off all the water, but equally the amazing sight of hard rice puffing up almost ten times its original size with just water and fire. I was given that task time and again. Not only I earned the trust, but also the respect that a boy of four-year-old can be such diligent in his work at his age.

Of course, I had temptations to lift up the rice beneath the boiling water to see how the rice is puffing up, but restrained from doing so for several reasons. I knew that a small stupid action can unsettle the pot and the entire family can hungry without rice, apart from causing damage to myself. We were poor and every grain of rice meant everything to us. I had seen the struggles that my parents had to go through just to put something on the plate for us each day. I did not know at that time I was a responsible boy. I learnt about it later when I grew up to understand what that word really meant. I also understood a little restraint from my end had made enormous difference for all others who were part of my family.

I had extended families consisting of many uncles and aunts and cousins. But they all lived in a small village some hundreds of miles of away. Only when I grew up as an adult, I understood the power of community that goes beyond our family and our extended families.

I grew up in a city, but most of my summer holidays were in a small village where my extended family lived. I loved the holidays for many things but only one thing – being able to freely play on the streets was a joy as city could not afford that. There were hardly any buses or cars or anything that is big and moving fast enough to be dangerous. The fastest moving vehicle was a two-wheeler and only one person in the entire village owned it. It is used to make such big noise that we could hear it coming miles away.

I knew everyone up and down the street and almost everyone who came to shop at my uncle’s grocery store. I was given the task of manning the shop while my uncle was on his coffee or lunch break. The shop was indeed a front room of his house facing the street and converted to become a shop. The back of the shop housed a sitting room and a kitchen. Stairs from the sitting room led to couple of sleeping rooms above the shop and sometimes I could hear my uncle snoring while he was taking a nap after his lunch break.

Why I am saying all this, when I am supposed to be talking about two R’s? You might have gathered that I might be leading to that through my personal story. I was alone in the shop as a boy and had to manage the shop while my uncle was on a break. Why did he trust me to do that while so many others who lived around him and known him year-long were not? It was just that the word had spread across that I am responsible boy and led to earning the respect from those hundreds of miles of away. That respect coupled with trust could have come only from my acts that were responsible enough to earn that respect. As I became aware of it while growing up, it dawned on me to realize it as my virtue. But for my cousins, their acts of irresponsibility became their own downfall to grow beyond what the village offered.

Because of my responsible acts, I believe I earned my respect. Make ‘being responsible’ as our virtue during these tough times of pandemic shutdowns and we will earn the respect of the entire community, possibly to lead them one day than to end up as an outcast.

Disciplining our lifestyle makes responsibility a virtue, respect earned by being responsible makes us assets that our nations will be proud to own.