In the last few weeks, Odisha has played host to some of the best known people from different walks of life – captains of the global Indian industry who came here for Make in Odisha, leaders of not for profit organisations, cultural icons, world champions in sports, artists of global fame, Ambassadors of countries, top officials and players from 16 nations of the world. Recently, the Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup, after a spectacular opening ceremony, has successfully come to a close. In the course of all these events, as I have received these great people on behalf of the State, I have been struck by one common sentiment echoed by everyone. “Such a beautiful place and such good people”. It has set me thinking.
Being in contact with good people, is refreshing, it is cleansing. It makes a person feel at ease, it brings out the best in that individual. People who come to Odisha are touched by our goodness so deeply that they often contrast this with its growing deficit elsewhere. That deficit is leading to the loss of the human touch.I think there are four elements of behaviour that go into the idea of goodness. It begins with being respectful. Our ancestors were deeply respectful of living and non-living things. This did not come from intellect or erudition. It came from a spiritual realisation that we must relate to everything around us with respect.
Next comes humility. In fact, without humility one cannot be respectful. Unfortunately, humility is sometimes confused with timidity and submissiveness. To me, humility comes from deep self confidence. In fact, it is a higher power. Without humility, we lose the power to receive. As it is said – however high and mighty, the mountain top may be, it cannot hold even a drop of rain. Only the lake in the valley can hold the water.
The next element of being good is simplicity. Odia people are simple people. Being simple is not to be confused with being a simpleton, someone who is gullible and unsophisticated. At the core, great people have the power of simplicity. Simplicity attracts. Sophistication distances. Beyond all this, I also believe that being good, essentially asks for a certain degree of forgiveness. Good people forgive more easily. Forgiveness has a cleansing ability. Humanity continues because somewhere, sometime we have forgiven. When we lose forgiveness, families, societies and nations fall apart.
I want Odia people to know that our goodness is being noticed. It is being valued. The world is beginning to discover it as a collective, pervasive, characteristic of an entire people. If you have money, you can build roads, skyscrapers, ports, factories and shops. But goodness is not easy to replicate. This is not because of any individual or specific to any time period. It is our collective inheritance distilled over centuries. We are extremely fortunate that our ancestors have passed on through successive generations, the virtues of respectfulness, humility, simplicity and forgiveness. Together these make goodness a distinct Odia virtue – an identity, we should all be proud of.
(The writer is the Chief Minister of Odisha)