No moral support, please

Bikram Vohra
Filed on November 22, 2019

It's free. And it's worse than advice as an imposition. It's called moral support. Advice is far easier to handle. You can take it or reject it or even select fragments that suit you and get rid of the rest. You have control. Advice can be cast aside and ignored or simply used in a selective fashion. It might even be a little helpful and, sometimes, there is a commodity called good advice, especially if it is distilled through expertise or experience.
Not so with moral support. It has an adhesive underside and it sticks to you. You cannot ignore it and what makes that tiresome is the call on you to acknowledge this utterly useless pledge of support. Moral supporters know this very well and use it as an entry pass into your privacy. It costs them nothing and in the guise of checking one out and getting the 'inside story', they can barge into your sanctum sanctorum both figuratively and metaphorically. Thing is, you cannot stop them because they are carrying the precious gift of moral support. Even if they have no morals or their morals are suspect.
I don't need a pat on the back or a chin up or your backing because that does not solve anything, however sweetly it is put. Here you are sweating it out, facing your crisis and all they can say is "there, there". Then they tell you not to worry (even as you are climbing walls) and something gratuitous like this too shall pass. Oh, thanks very much, that will help a great deal, exactly what I need.
Till this point it is all probably still tolerable because in the initial phase of the down you are in, you do need the shoulders and the utterances of regret and indignation, what with misery loving company and all that. Gee, that was so nice of them, they were there when we needed them, coughing up moral support. Yes, sure. But there's nothing tangible about it, it is like a flat soda, no fizz. I cannot take moral support to the bank. Did you help me get the job, the visa, the bank loan, use your connections, make the effort, succeed or fail? No, you didn't, then what good is your moral support? What can I possibly do with the gestures in futility? Frame them?
Oddly, moral supporters actually believe they are good people and have the milk of human kindness sloshing about in their veins. Look at us, we are there for you. No, you are not, you are there for yourselves. Thing is, we are all conditioned to respond gratefully to expressions of moral support. See, he is so kind. Look at her, so sensitive.
But gradually, the moral support being flung at you in big clods assumes an awkward quality. Like a bat in the belfry, it just does not leave you. Keeps fluttering up and down, causing you to be watchful.
Before you know it, you are placed into some sort of shapeless and ongoing debt to everyone who rallied around and cheered you on or up. That's the insidious beauty of moral support. It is like a mamba. Mesmerising and deadly. Unlike advice, where you at least have to think up a scenario and offer options, thereby at least studying the situation before slathering someone with your take, you do not have to conduct any such cerebral exercise for extending moral support. It is totally mindless and sweeping in its reach. Everyone can practise it without actually providing anything towards a solution. You can even detract from the solution by adding a dollop of advice (just a small scoop) to the target and make him or her even more obligated to you. Like when you use superglue and it sticks to your fingers. And you cannot get it off.
Then they can remind you endlessly that they were there for you. Remember the hard times when we stuck by you. Hope you remember. How can I forget, you won't let me.
Which is why whenever someone says they want to give me moral support, I say, please don't; a deal, fine; a job, sure; a contract, any time; but moral support, no. Keep it to bolster yourself.  
bikram@khaleejtimes.com


 
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