At JFK in New York he stood in line like everybody else.

Getting into the aircraft, he moved aside to let a lady pass, even giving her a courteous nod.

At Paris, he arrived late and found the line to India lengthy, but here, instead of joining the queue he edged to my side a little ahead, pretending to look at his phone, as his wife and son, also pretended to look at theirs, and then in one swift deft motion, he moved into the space ahead.

“No!” I said politely, “Join the line!”

He smiled at me, let me pass, and then tried to move behind me. “No!” I told him firmly, “Go right to the back!”

“What is it to you? We have let you pass!” said his wife as she smiled and looked to the others for support, who smiled back at her as a gentleman told me, “Let them be!”

“No,” I said, and insisted he go back, till he did finally, and reluctantly joined the end of the line.

But more than the attitude of the gentleman and family who obeyed all the rules abroad, and broke them only when it came to our people, was the reaction of our people.

We have become a people who compromise and can be compromised. And it’s not just in queues and lines but in almost all areas: We say nothing when illegalities happen in front of our eyes, even though we have recourse to do so. “Sir,” says the shopkeeper, “Do you want a bill? Without a bill, no GST!”

I hear loudspeakers after 10pm, even after 12 in the night and ask the police why they didn’t stop the sound. They reply, “No one complained sir!”

I’ve seen housing societies react, not when encroachments and extensions start taking place, thinking it doesn’t affect them, but finally when their approach road is either blocked or disappears, then they agitate. What were they doing when the illegalities started? They were busy compromising!

And that’s exactly how our nation is being frittered away; in bits and pieces every time we compromise.

Are we compromising when we hear that our country has stopped listening to the warnings by international agencies, that we are losing our freedoms one by one?

Are we compromising by not going and voting?

Are we allowing little compromises on our basic freedoms, like speech, press, etc, till we find ourselves in jail with all the other politicians under some draconian law which we allowed to creep in?

Wake up! Start small by insisting on queues in airports and railway stations, then look around  and save our country before the world laughs at us, when we ask for their support, and they say, “First get yourself out of your compromising position..!”

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