Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Pick up good things like cleanliness and following the rules from the Western society. Western Civilization has such cleanliness and the sense of following rules. We need to pick up that in the East.
I want to tell you a story. Way back in 1978 when many of you were not even born, I was in Switzerland and it was the first time I had been there. I was walking in one of the areas which hardly had any crowd. I took a chocolate and just put the wrapper on the road – like what we do in India. There was hardly any crowd there. An elderly lady, with a stick, saw me from a far distance. She came to me and said,“You have to pick this up and put it in the dustbin.” She showed me the dustbin placed a little farther. You know an elderly lady coming all the way walking with her stick and telling me that I should pick up that chocolate paper. I was so impressed with the amount of responsibility people take to keep the city clean. We must learn this in India that how clean they keep, and how environmental conscious people in the West are. Even if people protest in western countries, they do it as a silent march. We have to learn all this from Western Civilization.
And then what we don’t have to learn from western civilization?
Too much formality, the mother has to take permission to go to her daughter, or the daughter has to take appointment from the mother. This has started to happen somewhere in urban society also. The naturalness, sense of belongingness is disappearing from the society. There is such a sense of belongingness and human values even in a village in the east, and that is to be maintained.
There are some cultural identities like respecting the elders, and we shouldn’t lose this. This is very important aspect of the entire east.
There is a trend of expressing too much love in the west. People end up being diabetic saying honey, honey all the time! And it is opposite in the east. So, we need to have the middle path in the expression of love. Not expressing even once, like the case is with some parents and their kids, or among siblings, is wrong. Also keep on expressing love all the time is also wrong. Expressing love is like sowing a seed. If you keep it just on the surface, it won’t sprout, but also if you bury it very deep underneath the soil, even then it won’t sprout.
There are many things in the east which people in the west search for, like joint family and the sense of belongingness.