The Battle Within

May 30, 2021by Rajeev Hora0

The Battle Within

A lot is happening out there. Quite an understatement I agree. The world is going through unexpected and tumultuous changes, the likes of which have probably never been witnessed before. At the same time, a daily unceasing battle rages within all of us.

The die-hard optimist in me believes that the good old days are round the corner. This is not the first time in human history that pandemics have threatened the human race. The nature of the beast is such that it will soon mutate to a lesser toxic variant and everything will be just fine in a few months if not weeks. I am convinced that the people in charge of handling the crisis are doing their best possible under the circumstances. Heroes have emerged at every level and I acknowledge and applaud them wholeheartedly. We shall definitely overcome our adversity and come out stronger as a nation and as a race. This jolt provided by nature is an opportunity to make mid course corrections and changes in many domains.

The lurking twin-brother pessimist is however convinced that the situation is actually quite alarming and the doomsday is round the corner. There is hardly any family out there which has not been impacted. It is just a question of time. If the whole pandemic has been so widespread, how do you think that any one of us will be spared? Yeah, once this variant has gone, where is the certainty that it will not be followed by something more dangerous and lethal? All the newspaper reports and TV news can’t be wrong. In fact, the actual situation is much worse than the projected figures. I really don’t know if ‘business as usual’ will ever happen again? I have my doubts, my pangs of fear and there are plenty of them.

The cynic me vehemently blames the government, the politicians, our archaic systems and all those terrible people out there for bringing it upon us. Apathy is the name of the game. Nothing is going to change, I tell you and we shall continue to suffer till one day it probably consumes us all or the virus gets fed up and just walks away on his own. The way the human race has conducted itself over the ages, this was bound to happen. Let this pass and we still wouldn’t have learnt any lessons.

While I deplore the hypocrisy and inadequacies of fellow travellers, a small voice cautions me against my own transgressions. The hypocrite in me knows what precautions to take and what social norms to follow and yet I choose otherwise thinking that no one is watching. I criticize wholeheartedly but my heart knows every time I myself fail or fall short.

I am also pragmatic and realistic in the knowledge that the restricted lifestyles that are being imposed on us cannot last long. Finally, some risks will have to be taken for livelihoods have to be earned. Humanity has no choice but to return to its social ways. The inevitability of economics will overtake our finer judgements at times. Tough luck for some, but then succumbing to the disease hold far lesser odds than dying of hunger for the vast majority.

I grieve for many of my dearest friends and family who departed in so sudden and inexplicable a fashion. Inundated with memories, I search for closure and villains to blame simultaneously. Undoubtedly merciful I am and grateful for having been spared the ultimate. The compassionate heart of mine reaches out in prayer for those in distress and unfortunate circumstances. I want to help out because if support and comfort is not provided at such a juncture then when? When will goodness and humanity prove itself? Am I truly helpless all the time or seeking justification for my lack of effort some of the time?

My rational self glosses daily over statistics and research discoveries to aid what I already have in mind. Ignoring all that, the reckless me wants to venture out because for how long will I remain cooped in? I prime myself not to be afraid and fearful because I am convinced it is fear that kills people before the disease does. As I resolve myself for such outings and exploits, the prudent and cautious part of me holds me back. I want to reach out but then I put my own survival above those of others. I opt for safety and wait for the tide to turn. I bide my time for I know that misplaced machoism at this moment can be a foolish and catastrophic adventure. The meek shall inherit the earth takes on a different meaning for me.

The believer that I am, trusts that God is watching over my back. He is not going to let anything bad happen to me. My faith in him is inviolable and total. He brought me here on mother earth and I am a beneficiary of his blessings and mercy. My every breath is His grace. But then gentle doubts start creeping in from nowhere and the fatalist in me comes to the fore and tells me that whatever will be shall be. We have no control over these happenings. Resignation writ large over my heart, I feel my own actions are of little meaning. Destiny and fate have a way of their own and actually I am quite powerless in front of fickle nature.

The resident stoic comes to the rescue and helps me make peace with my own mortality and so also of others. While I go about my ways, Seneca’s words to Polybius ring loud, “Nature has made her cruelest acts affect all men alike, in order that the universality of their lot might console them for its hardship. It will also be no small assistance to you to reflect that grief can do no good either to him whom you have lost or to yourself.” We are immortal after all till the time we are alive.

And yet a part of me is in constant denial seeking refuge in diversions which I term as survival needs but do not quite wet the soul.

As I vacillate, dither and wonder, an old Cherokee (Native Indian) story comes to the mind:

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.
“One is Evil – It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
“The other is Good – It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

………So is it for all of us as we battle the pack of wolves within each of us during these challenging times.

Feed the ones which will make you stronger, less regretful and victorious at the end of the day. This too shall pass.  I am sure we will have quite a story to tell our grandchildren one day.

Horax (Casper)

First published at on 30/05/21

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