Somewhere in the clouds, en-route Mumbai to Lucknow: I was staring at that guy- snugly sitting without his face shield on, while the lady next to him was eyeing him nervously. A similar scenario was playing out four rows ahead of us; a middle-aged lady was comfortably sleeping in the middle chair, without her mask on, with no regard to the people besides her.

On the other side were me and wifey- one bottle of sanitizer already over, hands washed about thrice since entering the airport and face shield on throughout. I know, we can be a bit paranoid about things, but in my defense, it is my life and I am not bothered by the infamous “chaar log” of our society. So with our defense mechanism in place, we continued our trip, culminating in reaching home, taking a bath, sanitizing entire baggage, and staying away from the family for the next two-three days.

The scene in Lucknow was another story in itself- people sitting and happily chatting away, without the masks, the usual chai shops lined with people sipping away, and teenagers racing away on their bikes without any precaution (helmet and masks both missing). I spoke to an acquaintance regarding this- to get a barrage of explanation that it cannot happen to him, as he makes sure he does not interact with anyone with symptoms of COVID.

Go back to the pre COVID times: riders not wearing helmets/seat belts, writing on the walls of monuments, throwing garbage around. Let’s be honest, we all have done it as well. A question thus comes to my mind- why do we tend to break rules? Why do we tend to ignore the basics, which are aimed at keeping us safe?

In a survey, readers voted this as the best answer: We are careless or inattentive, we like to defy authority (who is he to tell me?), we feel we are young and therefore indestructible and so on. A psychological study identifies the need to be free as the biggest reason for not following a code/rule. The situation is a weird paradox- most of us think we are not flouting any rules. “I just threw a small packet”, “I was on the wrong side only for 2 minutes” or “you did not catch that other guy, he was also not wearing the mask!” are some of the common defense or are considered inside the “rules”.

The solution-start seeing yourself in the positive light. Put yourself on the pedestal- make yourself that guy who people look up to. Start keeping wrappers in your pocket, start following the traffic signal even if you are the only one on the road, start wearing that mask even if you are jogging all alone. Trust me, people will see, some will laugh, but, some will follow. For all you know, you might end up saving a precious life, because someone saw you doing the right thing and followed. The psychological need to be appreciated, to be praised, is much more deep-rooted than anything else- start small and maybe, make a big impact. You can always be a trend setter-just be doing the right thing, however small.

The author's views are personal only.

This article was originally published here:

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Salil Srivastava
Author: Salil Srivastava
In the profession called 'People' | Budding Writer

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