When unsuccessful, jealous, damaged people who themselves are no good for anything call on people who ARE good for something — maybe they’ve made a lot of money, built something great, or accomplished something that is worthy, it bugs the hell out of me. No successful person in the world has got there just based on luck. No olympic athlete, major Basket Ball player, web entrepreneur, Nobel Prize-winning Scientist, ‘got lucky’ and parred the dip. They dreamt, worked, and conquered, and managed to do it so successfully that at the end of the day, their efforts to those not in the know resemble an ‘overnight success’ and their efforts pure luck. But only they know how far from luck they truly are and have been. These unsuccessful losers don’t realize that, and instead blame their own failure or faults on the success of others. Mark Cuban, billionaire and truly visionary, teaches this in the most direct way to Loren Feldman.
In India, where I lived for 10 years of my life, people like to refer to people who are elder, more successful, or have a higher rank in society, with the title of “Sir” as a sign of respect. This is not only true for students and teachers, but also for bosses, colleagues, mentors, judges, and complete nobodies who look like they’re somebody or come from a Western country.
I am all for Indian tradition and respecting elders, but I think referring to a supposed somebody with “Sir” in every couple of sentences is purely, um, what’s the word? Oh yeah, bullshit. As you can imagine, this is a HUGE pet-peeve of mine whenever I go there. I can’t stand living in a society and being in a place where there are ranks and people feeling superior/inferior to each other at every moment. Can you imagine what it does to the self-esteem of millions of bright minds?
I have, of course, been on both sides of the table.
When I went there a few years ago, I stayed with my grandmother in a city near Bombay called Nagpur. On the second day, she introduced me to a lower-class “helper-boy” who happened to be my guide for my stay. He was older than me, much smarter, and came from a relatively poor-middle class family, hence he used to hang around my grandmother’s house (which, btw, is open 24/7 to everybody) and help her with groceries and fixing things around the house.
So, as you can imagine, I felt weird as hell when he first referred to me as “sir.” Yes, I was from New Zealand, but no, I wasn’t older than him, smarter than him, taller than him, or had any characteristics or life experience that made me superior to him. After a while, the ego in me started to show, and I liked being called it, but there was no way in hell my conscience would let someone feel inferior to me when they really weren’t, so had to I tell him to stop.
On the other hand, I remember doing some web work for an uncle once, where I worked under one of his top people. My uncle, of course, was cool with whatever suited, but this person I worked under had a bit of an ego. Apart from the fact that he was 10 - 20 years older than me, I think I was a lot smarter than him. And yet, everytime I referred to him by his first name, he insisted that I call him “sir.” He was, of course, of Indian origin, and having lived in Western society for the majority of my life, this just annoyed the HELL out of me, to the point that I ended up quitting because I hated feeling inferior to people who weren’t really superior to me in any way other than natural circumstance.
In a lot of aspects of society, I think the West has it wrong and Indian traditions go miles in projecting basic ideas in society like respect to elders, being nice to people, opening your door to anyone (my grandmother is the best example), and doing things that make the world a better place. Unfortunately though, I’m not really down with this “sir” thing, and it has to stop. And I’m not only talking about the title, but the way one has to react when he refers to someone as “sir.” From what I have noticed, a “sir” to most people is almost like a godfather and exaggeratedly a master. They have to agree to everything, complement them at every given occasion out of ‘modesty’, and give way to them if they try to walk through you.
And this sucks.
I think, though, Indian tradition isn’t really to blame for this. Since “sir” is an old Western/English thing, I imagine what likely happened is that since Indians were under British rule, they were inclined to refer to them as “sir,” and this concept stayed on even after the Britishers left, amongst Indians themselves. While the West moved on and became a more equal society, India went the other direction, and so did the meaning of titles.