Thursday, September 17, 2009

Small-mindedness: One of life’s biggest tragedies

Last week’s blog post evoked an interesting, variety of responses - a revealing ride into human mindsets. We all know that it takes all sorts to make the world. And I feel that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. My parents have always said, “Personal experiences and conscience influence how people express themselves in any situation.” I couldn’t agree more.

Constructive criticism is key to growth. To be honest, my “curious” gray cells would perish, if I didn’t get alternative viewpoints, in a civil fashion. No one knows everything and nobody in the world can always be right. Only a schmuck can afford to believe that they know best. And, as clichéd as it may sound, there are two sides to a coin—meaning two perspectives, at a minimum, on any given issue. To remain grounded and to evolve, we all need intelligent and honest people around us, who can expose us to an angle different from what’s integral to our own belief system.

That said, as a writer, what I took away most, from my blog last week, was a revelation: How fortunate am I to be blessed with a family that is open-minded – on both my side and my husband’s side. These are people who have nurtured astuteness and encouraged inquisitiveness. My family has always been cognizant of the knowledge-hungry, philosophical, sociological, and human rights activist side of me. I, almost never, accept what’s presented to me unless it’s backed with logic and reasoning. At the same time, I have been taught to NEVER discard the garb of respect while expressing my curiosity.

When my brother and I were kids, he would tease me that I should wear a chain around my neck with either a mini dictionary or an encyclopedia as a pendant. That way I could find answers, to my umpteen questions, in moments. ☺ I remember, even as a pre-teenager, this one time, I was extremely upset to find out that one of my widowed aunts had to give up non-veg after her husband passed away. Not because she wanted to but because the society expected her to. Really? Like eating meat would translate to her mourning any less? It seemed iniquitous, so I discussed it with my parents. My father patiently answered my questions and conceded that the system was insipid, but in the same breadth he explained the expectations of the Indian society and why this ritual was carried out. By the way, respect was never lost in this communication. Neither did my parents think, that as a person from the younger generation, I had no right (or mental capacity) to question the norm nor did I express my disagreement, with the societal rules, in a discourteous fashion.

To me, the world would be a mundane place, if there was no desire to know more. How do you progress if people were mentally content with what was presented to them? Homo sapiens are where we are today because few of our ancestors weren’t satisfied with what they had. And thank you for not accepting what you had and thinking progressively! If Steve Jobs hadn’t thought of revolutionizing the available technology and inventing chic Apple products, the world would have never known what an iPod or MacBook Air feel like (As an ardent Apple devotee, the one fact I can tell you is that they are divine!)

I am deeply indebted to my family for cultivating a non-judgmental and sound outlook. It helps me remain objective through a lot of situations. I know that intimidation and fear can’t earn you respect and neither can, “Do it because I told you so.” When my ten and seven-year old nieces say something, I hear them out and don’t dismiss their stance just because they are decades younger than I am. In fact, I learn a lot from them because their side represents their generations’ viewpoint. It nudges me to think beyond what I know or have experienced. My father has always taught me that everyone has something to share so hear him or her out. Age, gender, race, and class shouldn’t be used as a discriminating factor against opinion.

More until next time.


Copyright © 09.17.2009

“I am not young enough to know every thing”
- Oscar Wilde


Anonymous said...

Fantastic again. Too often in our Indian society, age especially is played out as being a tool to quell thoughts, ideas and opinions. Yes, a young person may not have had the experience to play things out a certain way but their opinion may be no less valid or real. In our society we young people are supposed to accord "respect" to an older person, especially if they are part of our family even if they are buffoons. And the younger generation is brushed off as being too inexperienced or or condescendingly told "these new-fashioned ideas!". In my humble opinion us younger generation has been exposed to far more in our years than the older ones were at our age. We are better traveled, better read and thanks to new media, better informed. It is not fair to expect to cow tow to the older lot just because they are older. Grow up please uncles and aunties. We younger folks because we may really have sometime valid to add if you care to go past your attitudes. And even if we do not, don't think just because you are older than us you have the right to demand "respect". Especially you Mr. Vijay Sinha who brushed of the blogger because she was "too young".

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