No excuses, please

A good laugh-line certainly, but behind it is a truth seldom acknowledged. We resort to making excuses when things do not go according to our liking. One may go so far as to say that there is no person on earth who has never made an excuse in his life.

Scriptures chronicle many stories about those who employed excuses. In the Ramayana, we see how Kaikeyi took advantage of the boons promised by Dasaratha to exile Rama to the forest and place her own son on the throne. The Bible tells us that when Adam disobeyed God by eating the forbidden apple, he tried to shield himself by blaming Eve.

History too tells of excuses used by those who were intent on wresting power and accumulating gain. The British instituted the ‘Doctrine of Lapse’ to annex the kingdoms of the rulers who had no sons to succeed them. Hitler used the nefarious notion of Aryan superiority to exterminate Jews and unleash World War II.

However, it is not the powerful alone who are adept at making excuses. Excuses are as common as the common man. They are perhaps the easiest way of getting out of a tricky situation and are used by young and old alike. At convenient moments one can fall ill or become forgetful. We do not, for instance, have sufficient time for study or to keep up with routine work. The daily grind leaves little time for exercise or meditation. There is an excuse for every occasion and every contingency.

Excuses, though, are not sound reasons and are bound to recoil on the one making them. As the saying goes, ‘The one who excuses himself accuses himself.’ This might seem a strange assertion when, more often than not, excuses work as an easy and painless way of getting out of uncomfortable situations. This, however, is to overlook the many negative characteristics at work.

First, such a person is one who is not keen on improvement. He has lazy habits of mind. Second, since he himself is prone to making excuses, he will suspect that others will do the same.

Last, and most important of all, he is unreliable. He cannot be depended on to shoulder responsibility. There is an interesting interpretation of the word ‘Responsibility’. It denotes the ‘ability’ to ‘respond’. Those who have the ability to respond do not make excuses. Their mantra is, ‘No excuses, please.’

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