I am sure we’ve all had that one incident in our lives which has left a deep impression on our mind.
Well, for me, that incident taught me some powerful life–lessons. It all happened in the summer of 2012 when I had gone down to play football on the concrete playground of our housing complex.
A boy from team A kept impeding the forward progress of a boy from team B. It got to a point where the boy who was fouling twisted the other player’s ankle by stepping on his foot. It was deliberate and violent.
As a nine year old who had seen very little, I expected a flare-up between two opposing teams. To my surprise, a young boy came forward and effectively persuaded both the team members to keep their calm, while he dealt with the matter. He maintained his composure and respectfully demanded a sincere apology from the offender who had lunged at his friend.
And he did apologize, albeit grudgingly.
To an onlooker it may have seemed like just another on-field incident. For me, it had meaningful lessons that built my abilities to cope with stressful situations.
Firstly, I observed how one must approach such situations in an unbiased way. The boy who demanded an apology not only belonged to team A but was also the best friend of the player who had fouled.
Secondly, I learnt how one needs to ‘respond’ to a situation and not ‘react’. An immediate reaction may have resulted in a fight but a thoughtful response avoided a physical confrontation.
Thirdly, you do not have to necessarily be the eldest to take charge of a situation. In this case, the boy who came forward to resolve the matter was only fourteen. The others who quietly agreed with him were two to three years older to him.
Lastly, there will always be a non-violent and amicable way to work out a difficult situation and bring peace, just like Mahatma Gandhi professed.
Ever since, I have encountered many such similar situations both inside and outside of school. And, to this day, that single incident inspires me to never lose sight of what is fair, put aside my emotions and find a peaceful way to settle a conflict. In all humility, I must confess, mostly it also makes me emerge as the hero.