It’s disconcerting to realize that years of first world existence, education, experience and travel to exotic destinations often do very little to open up minds. Once you decide what you think is right, is right, you will never be short of excuses to deride beliefs that are different from yours. Different is a concept that most of us are not comfortable with. We baulk at men dressed as women, find the sight of gay men holding hands hilarious, crack jokes at the eating habits of people from certain regions…In our little universe inside the well, we are perfect. So, when it’s someone else who ridicules our skin colour, customs and rituals, we bristle with indignation.
I grew up having to put up with “ami tomake bhalobashi” and “roshogulla” jokes. I took pains to explain that our cuisine is beyond “machh-bhaath”. But that didn’t stop me from making fun of my butter chicken loving Punjabi friends. In our limited perceptions – all Punjabis are crass, anybody living in the south of the Vindhyas is a brainy South Indian who licks sambhar off his elbows, North Easterners are Chinkies and Nepalis, watchmen.
We colour our opinions with many shades of prejudice.
We waste no time in forming opinions, castigating our fallen heroes, shaking our heads with disgust at the falling morals while safely assuming that there’s nothing wrong with us. It is as if we have never lied, been unfair, hurt our loved ones and been insincere.
The thing is, we expect very little from us and too much from others. We are never short of excuses to justify our failures but quick to condemn other’s failings.
So, if an employee gets chastised by his employer for not delivering – it is the boss who is nasty. If someone decides to be truthful rather than pretend to be nice, that person is hurtful. If someone’s opinion clashed with yours, she is dismissed as a troll. The girl, who’d rather immerse herself in her thoughts than indulge in inanities, has attitude problems. The guy driving faster than you is a show off and the guy driving slower is an idiot.
Everyone in this world is an asshole but you.
It is easier to pronounce someone guilty, make him the villain because it makes us feel like the hero and absolve ourselves of guilt. But you should know, a victim can victimize, the prey can predate in different contexts, from different points of view. There are no absolute rights and wrongs, truth is but a perception. There exists a duality in all of us. We are constantly battling thoughts of envy, revenge, lust and greed! Yet, when it’s someone else who succumbs we are quick to pronounce him guilty in our court of judgment.
It is so much simpler to indulge in hypocrisy, make sweeping generalizations than try and comprehend diversity. Stereotyping people on basis of their gender, attire, religion, preferences is intellectual laziness. Remember, judging a person does not define who they are. It defines who you are.
In my opinion, basing half-baked opinions on little or no information is a crime worse than hate.
We are all different as chalk and cheese, but if we can’t accept someone’s sexual preference, waist size, philosophy or opinions we might as well keep our mouths shut.
What if, in your endeavour to make someone else appear foolish, it is you who might end up looking like one!
Maybe it’s not as bad as it sounds. According to Psychology Today, racism, sexism and ageism come naturally to us. We are merely mirroring what we have been hearing and reading our whole life. We pick up the patterns that culture happily spoon feeds us, and we haplessly store it all in our thirsty memory banks, gladly retrieving the connection and filling in the blanks. For most of us, the racist/sexist/ageist inside us may not be a monster of our own making; s/he is not a reflection of who we are, but a reflection of where we've been. At times, it appears we are still stuck in medieval times.
Can we now all sigh in relief, now that we know we can blame our prejudices on social belief passed down the ages?
Beliefs are not facts. These are but interpretations that we have made in our minds and have nothing to do with reality. Not all old people are stuck in the past, not all politicians are corrupt, light skin is not a virtue, women are not weak, fat doesn’t equate to sloth and not every Muslim is a fanatic!
Accepting that we have preconceived notions is half the battle won.
So, look at your prejudices straight in the eye and either shake them away or tame them. But please, take a good look in the mirror, before you make someone the object of your derision, ridicule and loathing.
|Courtesy - Google|