Tough Love

By Swami Dr Snehananda Jyoti on 16-01-2014

‘Tough love’ is the phrase generally referred to in clinical setting to deal with wayward, delinquent, oppositional, defiant children and adolescents who engage in behaviors that are not normative for their age. The case in question that I am describing here relates to a very rich adult who does not mind betraying deep trust, engaging in anti-social behaviors, violating human rights, abusing others verbally, and threatening others who he thinks are in the way of getting what he wants. He uses money, booze, and parties to influence those in power or anyone who can help his cause. He has no qualms of conscience.  He lies, twists facts and figures to convince others that he is in the right. I came across the other day someone whom I thought was a dear friend of mine until he showed his true color in some real estate transactions. My spirituality and practical living were in great tension. I also had to take care of others whose interests were at stake due to his on-going anti-social behavior. In reality this person considered my goodness and my reluctance in taking legal actions against him to be my weakness. Besides as I trusted him I did not take the trouble to have all the legal documents prepared properly. So I was at a great disadvantage. Thus my trust cost me a great financial loss.  All avenues to communicate with him and engage him in a meaningful way even through third parties were explored to no avail. What is to be done in the case of this man?
Christ asked humanity to love one’s enemies, pray for those who persecute, and do good to those who calumniate, so we all can be children of our heavenly father, and be perfect as our heavenly father. He also wanted all to forgive others endlessly. Gandhi used sahana yoga (union with God and others through suffering) for reconciliation among all especially among Hindus and Muslims during the partition of India in the eastern section, and thus avoided enormous bloodshed. While I am deeply aware of the teachings of Christ and practice of Gandhi, I asked my assistant to call the police as a last resort to settle the dispute in the face of impending threats and abusive challenges. The police settled the issue on the basis of written legal documents. I justified calling the police as an instance of tough love to correct this man and avoid further loss. The fact I deeply trusted this man as I would trust my own son caused me enormous financial loss. The betrayal of trust is a traumatic experience and pain that will take time to heal. Every time a betrayal of trust takes place humanity suffers. We may have to have recourse to tough love to solve problems temporarily. For a lasting solution, one needs to be open to suffering, forgiveness and reconciliation. By trust that is betrayed one learns more about the other person, and ultimately about humanity in general. Of course I still stay dismayed as a spiritual person wondering what I could have done differently! Should I have put up with and suffered this person’s inhuman behavior further? I guess everyone has to make his or her judgment call.

About The Author

Swami Dr Snehananda Jyoti

Dr. John K Thekkedam (Swami Snehananda Jyoti) spent most of his life as a clinical psychologist in USA. He began his public life as a Jesuit priest. Quite attracted in distinct philosophies, he left the society and founded 'East West Awakening'.