Ramya’s comment on this post articulated something I have been thinking about since yesterday. Living in India, one might be forced to make moral compromises one might not have to make elsewhere. I would argue that making these compromises does not make one a bad person as long as one can honestly say one has tried one’s best to do the right thing.
Thus, one is not expected to be a swan – which I think is a tall order – but to just be the best duck one can be. That is, if you can accept that you are never going to be a swan, and not hate the duck looking back at you when you into the mirror (as Ramya puts it – to live with your choices). Then again, the person who leaves is not a swan either; just a duck in a cleaner pond.
I have not read the Mahabharata fully but one thing that struck me from what I did read is the contextual attitude to morality. The right thing to do for you might be the wrong thing for someone else. This is different from the more binary Western attitude to right and wrong. But even in the Bible, there are shades of gray – “Let one who has never sinned cast the first stone” and “give to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s”.
The idea, I guess, is to live thoughtfully. To really choose instead of succumbing to the status quo. Even if one chooses to succumb to the status quo, to do so after challenging oneself to take the harder path. And yes, to not beat oneself up if one succumbs but just to keep trying to be better.