WHO DECIDES?

You are at sabzi mandi (vegetable market) with your wife, you just manage to stay clear of rotten or semi rotten veggies strewn on sabzi mandi floor. While she shops veggies and you look around, you pull out a candy from your pocket tear off wrapper eat the candy and drop its wrapper where you are standing. Few days later you are flying with your family for holidays. At airport, you again pop up a candy and look around for a dustbin, you find none, and silently slip wrapper into your pocket to be disposed properly later. Which action of yours was good? Who decides?

You are at office working on a very important project; your team has been working on this project for stretched hours. At around 8 pm you walk up to a female coworker, seeing her tired, you, out of reflex give a light message with your fingers on her shoulder. She complains of sexual harassment, you plead it was not intended the way it was interpreted. Were you guilty or not? Who decides? Was your coworker correct in blaming you or was your friendly gesture misinterpreted?

Your son/daughter has just graduated from a business school and found job in another city. He wants to move into a live in relationship and both want to give it a try before they marry. You disapprove it as immoral act, on contrary, your son calls you narrow minded. Is your son right or are you right? Who decides?

We all come across many such issues in our routine life, at times we have conflict with others and at times we are at conflict within. How do we decide what is correct and what not? Is it really always important to determine what is correct and what not?

In absolute terms, there is nothing correct or incorrect, every thing is dynamic. What society today deems correct, tomorrow, it might call it a sin. What I find to be correct behavior might be immoral behavior by your measure.

Before we judge someone based on his behavior or reaction to a situation, or we cast aspersions on someone and hold him guilty, while being prosecutor, judge and jury, it’s important; we weigh him with all fairness. In case of frivolous issues it might not have immediate and palpable impact. In case of serious issues it might define the future of people involved. Also, our ability to stay fair and equitable will define our future. The interpretation of small, not so serious issues will become tradition or parampara, as we call it in Hindi. Parampars put to gather will be called Dharma. Paramparas, and thus Dharm are in constant transition.

The principles which help us define what is correct and what is wrong will remain constant over centuries, but, their interpretations are in constant drift of change.

First principle of social, religious and intellectual justice is ‘Karuna’, this Hindi word, perhaps has no equivalent word in English. It can be defined as a mix of empathy, sympathy, kindness and forgiveness.

Any Decision made with indifference, hatred, intolerance and intent to punish will always be wrong. Only virtues take you on right path vices don’t.

Freedom from fear is second principle. Fearlessness is one virtue which leads to self empowerment. Nothing empowers you as much; and no one is as fair as an empowered person is. Fearlessness at the same time stems from complete surrender in front of God. Decisions made in state of fearlessness make consequences inconsequential, but, with a caveat, it should be free from hubris and arrogance. There is often a thin, indistinguishable line between fearlessness and ego, power & arrogance.

Nothing can be fair till the time both parties involved are measured on same scale, what applies to Gander applies to Goose too. Equality dismantles the power structure in the family, organization or society, making discussions more objective and with clear accountabilities for decisions and actions. Power, on the other hand has unique quality to destroy any thing that is constructive, be it dialogue or action. Once, power is replaced by capability decisions and actions become extremely effective. Capability inspires confidence and kills fear in ones self and others, while power creates environment of threat and uncertainty.

Having said all this, one question still goes unanswered, is it always important for us as individuals and collectively as society to decide upon what is correct and what is not. Is it necessary to make judgment on morality of acts of others? Is it at all required that we raise eye brows on everything which by our standards is wrong? What I believe on this might sound a queer, and thus, is open for debate and discussion.

For all firmly laid down rules and traditions of society its important we adhere to them, anywhere, when ever we disagree, its important we initiate debate on that and this shall become the initiation for much needed change, finally nothing is permanent but change. Just consider, Indian society, firmly, is against prostitution, and many countries have it as legal trade and prostitutes pay taxes like all tax payers. We personally are entitled to our own view point on this till the time it does not impact society at large, and no one can stop us from acting according to our beliefs. Still, visiting a prostitute will be considered a sin in India, though it remains individual choice and should be decided upon by person in question himself.

Still more do we have right to forgive or punish someone for the apparent deceit or harm he did to us? We can’t unilaterally decide if deceit or harm was actually done, still we are entitled to think the way we think and hold others as knave. This is followed by a series of curses we shower upon others or take punitive actions wherever we have power to do so, and even displaying our greatness we forgive them. Morally, we are entitled to none of above, only choice we have is of forgetting and moving ahead. We should not curse as it erodes our spiritual being. We can’t forgive anyone as it means we have presumed him to be guilty that too unilaterally, while every thing is wide and open for debate and discussion. Punishment can not be a choice as it involves use of power, which, by very nature is destructive.

I don’t decide for you. You make your own decisions.

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