Keep your promise!

Abraham Lincoln once travelled with a Colonel. After covering some distance, the Colonel took out a bottle of whiskey and asked him if he would like to have a drink. Lincoln politely refused telling him that he never drinks whisky. The colonel did not insist further. After a while, the colonel made another offer, “would you like to smoke with me? Lincoln then shared an incident of his childhood with the Colonel.

‘I was about nine years old then. My mother was very sick. She called me and said, “Abey, the doctor tells me I am not going to get well. I want you to promise me before I go that you will never use whiskey or tobacco as long as you live.” I promised my mother I never would. And, I have kept that promise. Now would you advise me to break that promise to my dear mother, and take a smoke with you?’

The Colonel was touched; felt it was the best promise to be kept.

Drug and alcohol addiction mostly start with an experimental use in a social situation. Then for some people, the use becomes more frequent and becomes an addiction. And, we all know what happens as a result.

It pains most when you see a promising career coming to an end due to an addiction. A young man once shared in one of our AIDS conferences, ‘I studied in a very good school. I didn’t realize that the first shot of an injection offered by a friend would change my life for ever. I could not live without it and became a drug addict. I had to often steal money at home to buy what was offered free in the beginning.  My grades dropped and I had to leave the school. And, now I am living with HIV.’

I asked this person after the conference which is your bigger problem: HIV or drugs. He said, ‘Drugs, because with treatment for HIV, I am doing fine but despite several rehabilitation courses, I find it difficult to fully come out of my drug-using behaviour.’

I wish this man, too, had politely refused his first shot like Lincoln did. The lesson from Lincoln’s sorry is for all to remember: If you say no politely, based on a conviction or a promise you have made to someone, your friends will not mind. In fact they will respect you.


8 Responses to Keep your promise!

  1. Masuma Jafri says:

    Nice piece and message. Thank you.

  2. s m nasir says:

    Mustafa Nasir with Zainy Nasir
    15 hrs ·
    I am sharing someone’s wonderful experience, he recently had in Singapore.

    I was invited to one Friday evening event by one of MNC Vendor organization who had organized the event to raise funds for the visually handicapped people in a center for blind people.
    As usual, since it was a Friday evening, I first thought to skip the event considering it could be a bit boring and rather spend the evening relaxing by some other means.
    But being alone and sometimes finding it difficult to kill time, I thought to accept the invitation and registered on line for booking.
    Moreover it was free smile emoticon which was another motivation to go to the event.
    I was looking at the event to pass some time, meet few people and nothing else.
    When I went there, there were approx 40 people from various industries invited for that event. I found some Indians and naturally talked to them about how life is in Singapore etc etc. Initially we were shown a video about the visually handicapped center. What are their activities, how are they helping blind people in Singapore to lead a more fulfilling life, etc . It was a short 15 minute video and quite inspiring that how people from different walks of life spend time in helping these blind people without expecting anything in return.
    They shared the satisfaction and fulfilment they get by helping them.
    After the video, we all were gathered in a hall and were briefed about next event. The theme of the next event was “Dining in the Dark”.
    And this is the event which turned out to be inspiring and worth sharing.
    What is meant was that we all 40+ people were going to have Dinner in a pitch Dark room !!!! The next 2 hours were completely planned, organized , directed and executed by three blind youths.
    One was a girl ( Leader ) and other two boys were assistant to her forming a team of three blind volunteers.
    The blind leader first gave us tips for dining (These were ACTUAL STANDARDS THE BLIND PEOPLE FOLLOW IN ORDER TO MAKE THEIR LIFE EASIER)
    1. When you sit at your table the things will be placed as follows :
    at 3 o clock of your dish : You will find a spoon.
    at 9 o clock : Fork;
    12 o clock : spoon.
    2 o clock : Empty Glass Dish at the center with Paper napkin tucked at 6 o clock.
    2. There will be two large Jugs circulated to you. The Jug with plain walls will have water and the Jug with curved wall will have orange juice.
    3. When you get your Jug based on your choice you have to pour it in your glass. You have to dip your forefinger in the glass so that when you fill it and the liquid touches your finger, you have to stop pouring.
    She asked whether everyone has understood.
    All said yes but everyone was confused and trying to remember what she said and confirming with each other. Next 1 1/2 hours we spent were full of fun and learning. In completely pitch dark room where we could not see ANYTHING we were enjoying various delicious food without seeing it.
    We all 40 people were taken in groups in the dark hall.
    Each one was directed by blind person till he/she sits on a chair (We were finding it awkward because actually we are supposed to guide blind people to their destination and help them).
    We were Served full five course dinner by this team of three blind people-Welcome drinks, appetizers, starters , main course and desserts.
    The amazing thing was that the team of three blind people were serving exactly vegetarian dishes to vegetarian people who were sitting randomly in the room!
    While registering on line we were asked question to choose from “Vegetarian” or “Non vegetarian”. I obviously chose Vegetarian, being one. We were so nicely hosted that we did not have to wait in between serves . As we were ending finishing one dish, we were served with next without any delays.
    After approx 1 and half hours of Dining in the dark , the leader asked whether everyone has finished eating. After confirmation she switched on the lights of the dining room.
    We left the Dining room with tears in our eyes.
    We realized how lucky we are and how we have been gifted with beautiful eyes to see the beautiful world. We realized how difficult lives of blind people are ( and other handicapped) without being able to see.
    We realized how uncomfortable we were for just two hours without being able to see anything and how they must be living their lives.
    We realized how unfortunate we are , that we do not value such simple things in life we have and cry (sometime louder, sometime within ourselves) and run after what we don’t have… for whole of our lives without having time to adore for the things we have.
    Be cheerful.
    Adore whatever you have in life.
    You may try for whatever you don’t have but never feel sad about it. HAVE A THOUGHTFUL SUNDAY:

  3. Syed Mohammad Afsar says:

    Thank you very much for sharing this wonderful experience.
    You may read my previous post “Meet their aspirations, not just needs,” in which I wrote on a similar issue.

  4. Indrani says:

    A very relevant issue which is posing a big challenge to the physical and mental health of millions of people all over the world. A person who has got addicted to smoking, drugs or alcohol has to take the first step to come out of it through a firm resolve. Next come the family, friends and social organisations who can help and support them in the process of de-addiction and maintaining the status. Youth should not fall prey to peer pressure in these matters. At the end of the day those who do not suffer from any addiction are definitely more successful and respected in life.

  5. Indrani says:

    The incident related by Mr Nasir is an eye opener. The physically challenged people are actually more independent and efficient than us in many ways. That is why we now use the term ‘differently able’. I am sure may people who are struggling with de-addiction issues will be motivated by this incident.

  6. Indrani says:

    The incident related by Mr. Nasir is an eye opener. The physically challenged persons are more independent and efficient than us in many ways. That is why we now use the term ‘differently able’. I am sure persons struggling with de-addiction issues will be motivated by this story

  7. Thank you very much for these comments, warm regards Afsar

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