STORYLINE: Prisoners are made to work in inhuman conditions and have to produce a certain number of shirts by the end of the day. If one of them falls behind either that person is killed, or the entire unit suffers. The authorities approached one of the prisoners to become a supervisor – he takes up the dreaded role because if not him then somebody else would accept that position. And while he is the supervisor one of the prisoners on his team becomes seriously ill and falls back on her quota. He makes the call to kill her so that the rest of the unit can live a little longer. (This is roughly the storyline of one of the Law and Order episodes)
It was the supervisor’s choice to sacrifice the minority so that the majority can live. Was it the right choice? We don’t know, and we will never know. But in these cases what is most important is: can the supervisor wake up in the morning, look himself in the mirror and be at peace. Ultimately you live with yourself, your actions, your past, your thoughts.
Not all the choices we make in our lives have such dire consequences, but we are responsible for the smallest of our choices. Sometimes I wonder if ignorance is indeed bliss. There are so many moments in our life where we make decisions we are not aware of
– cutting somebody off in traffic
– closing the elevator door before anyone can get it – because we are in a hurry
– using the company printer for personal uses
The list is endless – we even have a term for this – white lies – lies/actions that we believe don’t hurt others.
And for the most part – we are not even aware of these choices, and we can look at ourselves in the mirror and feel at peace. Hence, ignorance is bliss.
The point here is that the size or the impact of your choice does not matter. What matters is how does that choice make you feel? Does it give you sleepless nights or does it bring a smile to your face everytime you think about it?
We all have a certain threshold unique to each one of us which when crossed will disturb our peace. That threshold determines whether we can wake up in the morning and look at ourselves. We have an inner radar, personal check that stops us from crossing the limit – the key is to listen to it. A lot of us suppress the original voice that tells us to stay but we press ahead, and an inner hell of mind chatter replaces our inner peace. We try to reduce those thoughts by other distractions like continually keeping busy, eating a lot of food, watching movies.
Buddha said that hell and heaven exist within each of us and this is what he meant by it. Our choices are pathways to hell or heaven. And for some of us, we have lived in hell for so long that we do not even know there is any other place we can live in.
All great things start with awareness – let the light of awareness shine brightly on each one of us.