I am reading this very interesting book, The Difficulty of Being Good by Gurcharan Das. He talks about different characters in The Mahabharata and their characteristics. It is very easy to relate to most of them because human nature just does not change. What was true thousands of years ago is true for the present ages too.
In one of the chapters the author writes about the scene where Draupadi is being humiliated and everyone keeps quiet. No one has the courage to speak out against the wrong doing. Then, after quite some time, Vidura speaks out and quotes the sage Kashyapa about the immorality of remaining silent when there is evil afoot – ‘ the leader of the conspiracy earns half the penalty, the immediate culprit a quarter and the witnesses who do not speak are also guilty of a quarter.
Reading this many incidents came to mind. People keep quiet because they do not want any unpleasantness. Many shut their eyes as if to state they have not witnessed the wrong. For many it is just not their business. Most of us cannot speak out or fight against all that is wrong in the world. But we can, against small matters within the sphere of our life. When we keep quiet we are giving the other person a power over us. It sends out a message that we are ready to be bullied. Most of the time we are responsible for what happens in our life and blaming others is just our shortcoming.
But in countless instances people are so helpless. They are totally under the control of other people. Their life is not their own. That is heart-rending; the feeling of helplessness and the belief there is no one to help them. They are forced to keep quiet, they have no choice.
“The man of power is ruined by power, the man of money by money, the submissive man by subservience, the pleasure seeker by pleasure.”