Her question was loaded. “Who are your people?”, she asked.
How on earth can you answer that?
Think about all the people in your life. Are they all your people?
Are the persons you met at a party your people? Or the ones who seem to laugh with you, party with you, say yes without ever questioning you? Or the ones staying next door? Or are the ones who drive you to places, clean your spaces, provide you with services, your people? Or those who claim to represent you in your affairs – your Member of Parliament, your lawyers, your tax consultants? Are the people in your network your people? Or are your customers your people? Or the ones you work with? Or the persons you meet every day on way to work? Or the ones who are supposed to protect you from harm and injustice, or to protect your liberty and ensure your equality your people? Or the ones you live with? Or the persons you call as friends? Or those who you call your relations by various names?
Are the people who coerce you, who exploit you, who harass you, who commit acts of violence against you, your people? Are those who have no time to listen to you, understand you, let alone respond to you and interact with you, your people?
So, you do know who are not your people.
Do a small exercise. Close your eyes. Breath in, breath out. Now think about all the people you interact with from the time you get up to the time you go back to bed. Think about the interactions you have with them. Pause on each interaction and observe what it makes you feel. Think about the purpose of those interactions. Open your eyes. On a piece of paper write down the names of the people, the interactions, what they make you feel, and the purpose of the interactions.
Now look hard at your list again. Highlight the interactions where you and those you interact with have a common purpose. Notice the interactions where you and those you interact with appear to have different purposes. Does this have anything to do with how you feel in these interactions? Does how you feel have anything to do with who are your people?
People who do this exercise tell me repeatedly that they find their people wherever their interactions are driven by common purposes. They say that the people in interactions with common purposes have an extraordinary acceptance of each other. They have a strong recognition of who they are, who those they interact with are, and the value they bring to the purposes they pursue together. They have no fear of what they are doing because their actions are towards a common purpose. They are authentic. They describe what they are doing together with clarity and openness. They recognize the value of the other, are always inclusive, fair, and create spaces for understanding the other. They take responsibility of their interactions and commitment to the purpose.
Each of your interactions where you interact with others to some purpose forms a system. The different systems you are a part of in your day form your ecosystem of systems.
Many times, the same people are part of different systems that you are a part of. For instance, you could be colleagues and friends. Or you could be related and be colleagues. Or you could be teacher and student in one system and a parent and child in another.
Sometimes the other people you interact with may have common purposes with you in one system, but not in another. When this happens, what you feel about your interactions in one system will influence what you feel about these people in the other systems that you share with them. This may leave you and the other people in these systems frustrated with each other. Or worse, it may even cause corruption of your purposes in on or the other systems that you share with each other. Sometimes some people deny their common purposes in one or more systems that you share with each other. This can corrupt the purposes as also make the interactions unpleasant. This too will leave you feeling that these are not your people.
Now do this exercise. Write down who your people are. Write down what your common purposes are. Write down what interactions value those common purposes. What interactions further those common purposes. Do you have work to do on talking your common purposes? Or on interactions that value the common purposes? Or those interactions that further the common purposes?
If serendipity is kind and finds you those with whom you share common purposes, do you celebrate your people? Or do you let the dull dreary habit of charm, glamour, and pretense drive your interactions to purposes other than the common purposes? Do these interactions further silent acts of violence, coercion, exploitation, and indignity?
It is non-trivial to recognize who are your people. It is harder to nourish them. But it is essential to cherish and celebrate them.
May you find your people and may they find you!
#All views expressed in this column are those of the author and/or individuals or institutions that may be quoted and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.
He can be reached @AnupamSaraph