A couple with two young daughters were visiting a ‘Free School’ in Delaware to see if they could both be admitted there. The younger one, who hadn’t yet begun school, had had her choice already made for her by her parents. To be sent to the Free School, that is. But the older daughter, Jane, insisted that she was happy where she was (a mainstream school) and needed no change. She even talked exuberantly about all the reasons she was happy in her school! But, after listening to Melanie, the founder of the ‘Free School’ for sometime about all the freedom that the new school had to offer, Jane started her long list of complaints about her own school. ‘I don’t get this! I’m not allowed to do that!’ and on and on. I was recently reminded of this anecdote narrated to me by Melanie, some ten years ago.
Our modern society is full of people who think they are happy. If you asked them why, they’d probably even list their reasons for their happiness, just like Jane did. “We are happy where we are! We don’t need to change much!!” So we say, while we go about indulgence after indulgence in food courts and ice cream parlours, expensive vacations, shopping in one mall after another, our facials and new hairstyles, long hours watching ‘incredible’ you-tube videos, shifting to flat-screens and furnished apartments, some ‘charity’ here and some there, engaging in ‘feel-good’ intellectual debates with friends over dinners… How do we know we are not fooling ourselves like Jane did?
May be Gandhi’s very powerful quote is relevant here! “We are dazzled by the shining lustre of our chains and look upon them as symbols of our freedom. This state (of mind) bespeaks of slavery of the worst kind.”