Systemic change is the need of the hour

Only Systemic Change in our body-mind systems can help us survive as individuals and as a nation, says Minnu Bhonsle

The Poor

Current Scenario
Those who are illiterate, and at/below the poverty line, are the least protected from any kind of attack, whether a terror attack, or a communal riot, or a gang war, or bullying by local goons, or regional divides, or financial attacks due to inflation.
They are the ones who need the most protection, and they are also the ones who have the maximum power [due to their sheer numbers] to elect those who can ensure such protection to them. Unfortunately however, they are not able to educate themselves enough about capable candidates during election time, and therefore often simply auction their vote to the highest bidder at ‘that time’, who might buy their vote ‘in cash or kind’.
We need to educate the poor, and explain to them the power of their ‘right to vote’ and the need to exercise this right with wisdom, and that it is not in their own long-term interest that they merely sell their vote for an instant material reward.

Systemic Change scenario
We need all our citizens to be offered the opportunity to be educated, so that they can move beyond the poverty line by earning a reasonable living, and therefore less tempted to sell their vote. We also need the poor to be motivated to take the opportunity to be educated, so that they can make informed decisions at election time.
We also need them to be willing to be a part of our human intelligence on the ground, and thus gainfully employed by our intelligence agencies. Harnessing this alert and motivated intelligence on the streets, is by far our best bet in preventing terror attacks. If there are millions of alert and vigilant eyes and ears, no terror plot can be hatched, co-ordinated, or carried out in our country.


Coping by doing
India is perceived as a warm, welcoming, accommodating, tolerant, and an unassertive nation. Indian spiritual scriptures are said to propagate passivity amidst adversity. It is far from the truth. Enlightened living does not mean a passive acceptance of unpleasant events. Helplessness is not a virtue; it is possible to do something about an adverse situation. When dealing with problems, we have two choices—we can either do something or do nothing; respond with fight or flight. Stoicism, passivity, fatalism or optimism are unhealthy. It is best to cope by doing—fight. The healthy spiritual philosophy states, ‘I can survive any problem with courage, until or while I either solve it, and/or work out a better plan’. The mindset of a spiritual realist, who is concerned enough, saddened enough, offended enough, frustrated enough, annoyed enough, and motivated enough to act, is healthy—this is the mindset of a survivor, a doer, someone who is always ready to face a challenge, and who asks, ‘What can I DO to change these current conditions?’

A spiritual realist also understands that limited change is likely within a particular period of time, and who therefore has realistic expectations in realistic time-frames, when it is regarding effecting a deep-rooted ‘systemic change’.
Emotions like anger, panic, depression or guilt are unproductive. They diminish our ability to solve problems, reach our own goals and perform optimally. That does not mean we have to be emotionless, but to have ‘appropriate emotions’ like annoyance, concern, sadness and regret. These emotions are productive: they help us retain clarity of thought, learn from the past, remaining solution-oriented, and achieve goals of sustainable wellbeing. Therefore, the constructive way forward for this nation is not to have rage and hostile anger or to be completely emotionally unmoved, but to have a sad and concerned annoyance, which can propel us to negotiate ‘systemic change’ deep within ourselves, and around us.

Minnu Bhonsle
Dr Minnu R Bhonsle, PhD, is a Mumbai-based consulting psychotherapist and counsellor. She conducts training programmes in Personal Counselling [Client-centred Therapy] and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, and also workshops in Stress Management, Art of Listening, Couple Therapy, and Communication Skills. Minnu has co-authored the book, The Ultimate Sex Education Guide along with Dr Rajan Bhonsle.


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