A stage for inner voices, opinions, ideas and experiences

What are we?

Posted by Harish at Tuesday, April 6, 2010

We live somewhere, we observe things around us. Things such as people, their behavior, character, events and inanimate things like the buildings and vehicles. We learn from our observations. As a mortal, I have been observing the things around me. I wish to present some of my learning in this post.
Let me start with the question “What is right and what is wrong?” The answer one might come up is “Anything that is right to a person’s conscience is right and whatever that does not is wrong”. One more possible answer is “Anything that is accepted by the society is right and others are wrong”. Both these answers are correct. At times these two things may contradict but still they are right from their perspective. The actions of a terrorist may be right in his conscience but the world will never accept it and hence it is wrong from the society’s perspective. When it comes to the society, what is right in one part of the world may not be right in other part of the world. A friendly kiss when people of opposite gender meet or drinking wine is right in France but it is not so in India. What is right at one point of time may not be right at some other point. Polygamy was legal during the times when kings ruled in India but now it is not. Society changes and so do its views and the distinction of right from the wrong.
As kids we learnt from our environment. We did not know what is right and what is not. We were an empty slate waiting to be written with rules and distinctions on what is right and wrong from the society. Gradually, this knowledge we acquire penetrates deep into us. After a few years, what we call as conscience tells us what is right and wrong and guides us. When we look into it from a clear sense, this conscience which we say to possess is nothing but a collection of lessons and rules we acquire from the society. This is why a terrorist thinks his actions are right but the world does not agree.  
When we grew up we had parents guiding us everywhere and in everything. They showed us what is right and wrong. But again, they form a part of the society from which we learn and they are nothing but a collection of learning from the society they grew up in. What we see in our parents is what has been decided by them to show us and what they feel is right based on their learning. We firmly believe the rightness of this knowledge we get from them and pass it on to our kids. So when a kid grows up, he gets the knowledge from his parents, which is nothing but the essence of the society they were brought up in and also the society in which he is a part of. Thus I may say that society models us.
After a few years of growing we start reading books and do other things which expose us to cultures, ideologies and societies from across the globe. We learn from them as well and again they have their influence in creating us. I think a friendly hug is right. But my parents think it is not. I think it is right because I have at some point been exposed to a society in which hugging is considered an expression and sharing of love. That had influenced me to thinking that it is right. But my parents haven’t gone through the same experience or had been to a contradicting experience and so they feel it is not right. This is just a small example I used to demonstrate how what we call as ‘generation gap’ is created.  In such cases both the parties are right from their perspective but wrong from the other. Other examples might be birthday bums, loud music, ‘modern’ dressing etc.
By now, you would have understood what point I am trying to prove here. We are nothing but an essence of the society. We agree on something because we have been influenced to agree by the society at a very premature stage of life and we disagree because of the same reason. Only when we do or act which cannot be called as influenced by the society we have come across, it can be truly stated as the characteristic behavior of us. Try to take a moment and think of how much the society has influenced your thoughts, actions, dreams, verbiage, in short you.  
Until my next post, take care!


Manoj.S.Rao said...

I agree to your idea that the society influences an individual's right-wrong. But, I very strongly feel that the individual is largely groomed by his thought process and thinking pattern.

The society just gives stage for thinking. Well, take an example, when a person sees someone smoking,he can decide to do it himself too or also decide not to do it on health/morality grounds.

So the society is a liberalist guide. Its not an instructor. It just gives you the space to learn.

The call is yours. You always have the choice. It is upto you to decide.


Harish said...

First of all, thanks for your comments.

I agree with you that when a person is exposed to something like smoking for instance, it is left to him to decide whether to take it or not. But he decides this based on his experience in the past. He might have come across the ill effects of smoking and so he decides no to smoke. This is again, influenced by the society. But there are some things which are not and cannot be influenced by the society. For example a person liking someone or falling in love. Everything else, in my humble opinion, is an essence of the society in which the individual has been a part of at some point in life.

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