We need to earn the love, loyalty and respect for which we crave, says Suma Varughese
When I was quite a greenhorn who understood nothing about life, I interviewed Mr Nari Hira, publisher of the Magna Group of Publications, who later went on to become my boss, when I joined the group as editor of Society magazine.
It was a memorable interview but what stuck in my mind the most was his statement that you had to earn loyalty. “Many of my industrialist friends complain that there is no loyalty left in the world. But what they don’t realise is that they have to earn it,” said Mr Hira, wisely. Having worked with him, I can testify that he was as good as his word. He really cared for his employees. We were a spoilt lot. Our salary cheques would be delivered to our desks promptly on the 28th of every month. Come Diwali, and we would get a princely bonus of 24 per cent! When the company threw a lunch or do for the employees, Mr Hira was sure to inquire tenderly if everyone was having a good time. That air of wanting to be of help percolated down to even his general managers whom you could rely on to dredge you out of any difficulty. The result was that Mr Hira commanded an almost slavish loyalty from his people. Hardly anyone left Magna once they had moved in. I myself only parted ways reluctantly when I realised that I was done with mainstream media, and that I could only henceforth work with a publication that resonated with my value system (like LP, for instance).
What applies to loyalty applies to any other quality, such as respect, love, or acceptance. There is nothing that is guaranteed on planet earth. We have to earn everything.
Most of us get this equation when it comes to tangibles like success or money or fame. We know that it is not simply going to drop in our laps. We have to work for them. But when it comes to intangibles like love, loyalty and respect, we seem to operate from a sense of entitlement which is not just unrealistic, but also traps us in a web of misery.
Most of us err hugely in this respect when it comes to our parents. We simply take them for granted, expecting them to take care of us forever, look after our physical, emotional and financial needs and love us unconditionally. Parents being parents, most of them strive to meet these expectations, but one can’t keep giving endlessly into a void. Sooner or later, if they are wise, they will call their children to account and make them even up the score.
Marriages too are rife with unrealistic expectations, particularly in this patriarchal age. The husband expects the wife to obey and serve him, to be subservient or faithful, without recognising the need to earn this right. Wives expect their husbands to look after them in all respects without necessarily earning the right. Perhaps if both parties would recognise that they need to earn what they want, relationships would be on a more realistic footing.
Priests and patriarchs expect to be obeyed and deified without earning the right. Parents expect children to obey them docilely without earning the right.
One of the most vitiated relationships in India is the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law equation. Of course the relationship is complex and has many dynamics within it, but perhaps if mothers-in-law would seek to earn the love and loyalty of their daughters-in-law instead of expecting to have these qualities served to them on a platter, many families would live much more happily and harmoniously than they presently do.
The bottomline for an empowered life is to take responsibility for everything we want in our lives. Instead of waiting futilely for happiness, harmony, love and loyalty, let us make up our minds to earn them.
Suma Varughese is a thinker, writer, and former Editor-in-Chief of Life Positive. She also holds writers' workshops. Write to her at email@example.com
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