First Be A Good Person

One of my great heroes, Sachin Tendulkar, just retired at age 40. He was a spectacularly talented basman who first played international cricket for India when he was 16. I won`t cite his statistics because they will be meaningless if you don`t know cricket. Truly, they do have little meaning relative to the extraordinary adulation from the entire stadium at the close of his last match.

Now I`m watching Sachin respond to questions from adoring schoolchildren. His answers are always thoughtful, often humorous, most of all helpful. He`s thinking why each question was asked, how he can answer in a way the child can feel. They are spellbound.

The host asks the last question: “You have accomplished so much, Sachin, you are so famous, but you are so humble. How have you kept such humility?”

“When I was selected to play for my country for the first time, my father told me: Sachin, you have been honored today, you must do the best you can with your bat, but this is temporary. If you do well, people will like you, but there will be a time after cricket. You should want people still to like you after cricket. That means, first you must be a good person, then you can be a good cricketer.”

Sachin ended this way: “Some of you might play cricket for India, some of you might be lawyers or work in business or many other things. Whatever you do, please first be a good person.”

3 comments on “First Be A Good Person

  1. Happy to know that you too love cricket. While his love for cricket is known the world over, cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar’s passion for being involved in humanitarian work has been mostly hidden as the master prefers to be a silent crusader. But after bidding adieu to the game, Tendulkar will be spending much of his time helping the underprivileged, something which he always loved, but could not spare much time for because of his cricketing commitments, says former Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) official Samar Pal, a close associate of the legend. “More than the game, Sachin loves social work. He always thinks about the underprivileged and he will spend much of his time doing humanitarian works,” said Pal who shares a close bonding with the maestro from the time he was just 14.

    Preferring to keep away from the public eye, Tendulkar has been involved in several charitable works, including sponsoring 200 underprivileged children every year through a Mumbai-based NGO called Apnalaya. Tendulkar also helped a telethon raise Rs.7 crore for schools when he devoted 12 hours patiently answering questions from schoolchildren on the nuances of cricket.

    Well, he taught us that helping people is our job. We need to believe it, he is right, “being a good person is key to being happy”.

  2. The ills of the world would be cured if everyone was a “good person”. All corruption would be elimated, wars would be in the past. In a nutshell, “good personhood” is the solution. So what would we have to do to make that happen? Or is “ill personhood” a permanent condition of being human.

    • One of Sachin’s advantages was a wise and loving father. Because he was loved, he trusted his dad’s teaching, and because his dad was wise – saw life clearly – when Sachin practiced the teaching, it was effective. That’s why he grew into not just a great cricketer but a happy one who, as Milan says, does good.

      Happier people are kinder, kinder people are happier. People become happier because they act with more kindness. They learn to see more clearly what will really help those they meet, so their kindness becomes more effective, and they notice more opportunities for kindness, so they get more practice.

      The theory of original sin never felt plausible to me. People hurt themselves and others when they’re in the grip of negative emotions, concepts or habits. They act better when they train themselves to notice and discard what triggers them to act and speak harmfully. Every experience has effects on how we act in future. Because we’re blessed with the ability to notice our experience, we are not cursed to repeat what we memorized. We can change.

      In fact, we inevitably will change. Our habits will grow more ingrained, our concepts more firmly fixed, our emotions more often on auto-pilot – unless we learn to, and work to direct how we change. There are many, many training programs to help us do that.

      I’m skeptical about the extent to which governments can help. They can deter harm and alleviate circumstances that make harmful action more likely, but only individuals can choose how to act.

      What each of us can do is, at the very least, work to become a “pretty good person”. It’s worth the effort because it will make us happier. We cannot force but we can also – kindly – suggest others do the same, using whatever training program suits them.

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