Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
You know a question has got a single answer. But certain questions should not be answered. It should be made as a path. A road can be tread many a times. Like this question, we will have to ask again and again in various circumstances. Why someone is not honest? Basically, it is lack of sense of belonging. You know what; corruption begins outside the purview of sense of belonging. No one can be corrupt with their own family, and if you extend it a little bit, to the near and dear ones. They’re not corrupt with their friend circle, but when they put a boundary beyond that friend circle, when one thinks that only these people belong to me, then the people are no longer mine. Then the corruption begins. We have to educate people to expand a sense of belonging. Second aspect of corruption is insecurity. People who don’t have friends try to find the security in money. Gosh, they don’t know money is not going to bring them security. It’s the company of right people who will bring more security in their life. You know if you go and ask a school boy or a girl how many friends he/she has, they will count on their fingers - 2,3,4,5. And I ask them, “hey, look you are spending 5 - 8 hours every day in a classroom of 50 - 100 kids, and you can’t be friendly with everybody? And how are you going to live your life when you come out of the schools and colleges with the billion people, 6 billion people in the world? So, the basic quality of being friendly is sort of foreign, sort of alien to our kids. Then what happens? Insecurity creeps in. And to manage this insecurity, the only idea one gets is ok I should have more money. So, then by somehow you amass money, be corrupt. So, first of all we have to spiritualize the politics, socialize the business and secularize the religions. If we can do these three things, society will be a better place to live in.
Every leader should see beyond his/her community and people. They should have a vision for the entire human race. You know, the Hindu priest, he should not only pray for Hindus. He should pray for every human being. Similarly a Muslim or Christian priest, he should feel for the entire humanity then we have achieved the purpose of religion.
So, I would say secularize the religion, socialize the business. If every business undertakes corporate social responsibility of investing 1, 2, 3, 10 or whatever 10 percent of their profit in developing rural areas, I tell you this planet will have no hunger, will have no disease, will have no illiteracy. Because governments alone cannot do this, it is a social partnership with the NGOs and business organizations. They can do much more. So, socialize the business, bring social corporate responsibility and then spiritualize the politics. Now politicians, they had such integrity in the time of Mahatma Gandhi, they were respected highly.Today the situation is completely opposite.
You Know, we need to spiritualize the politics. Politicians should care for people. I just want to share with you a particular story with my grandfather. You know, when my grandfather met Mahatma Gandhi, he went and stayed with him in sevagram for 20 years. My grandmother gave 10.5 kilos of gold. My grandmother was a beautiful lady. Those days the women used to don a lot of gold, dipped from head to toe is all gold. Except the mangalsutra and a set of bangles, she willingly gave all her gold and she said, “I will take care of the kids, you go and serve for the country”. So he went and stayed in Mahatma Gandhi ashram.
You know, that sense of contributing and giving, taking pride in giving is missing today. If that comes up, there will be a big difference. Pride in giving, pride in non-violence are two things which are missing in today’s education. If you see movies, one who is aggressive and loses his temper, is shown as hero. One who is calm, accepts everything and turns other cheek around, they are not considered heroes. This value shift has to happen. I’m just now coming from America where in Chicago we had a program for school district children.
That was the most notorious school, 268 crimes happened in the previous year. And when we introduced meditations, simple pranayama and simple values like making one new friend every day, and stand up and be compassionate, the crime incident rate this year dropped down to 60 from 268. They were amazed and the school district councilors came to thank me. 50 top officials of education said the techniques that we have introduced have brought real transformation. Otherwise, people there don’t feel safe, you don’t know what will happen there tomorrow, whether the child will come back with all the limbs intact. We need to bring this back. Sense of belonging, sense of caring and sharing, and pride in giving.