The Power to Shift Perception
I do not know if I have progressed in life so far as to have the purported wisdom in taking up a topic like this with authority. What I do know is that though this may be taken as one of my rants by the reader(s??), but they are what I believe so much now, ideas sculpted from each hammer blow life has dealt me.
When I write a blog post, I always keep in my head the audience to whom I am addressing. This entire post could be taken from a religious perspective. But that is an entirely different discussion and definitely not the direction that I want the reader to take up. The semi autobiographical nature of my three previous posts were aimed at the most universal,generic group. This one I believe is also of the same fundamental type although it may not appear to be so. Look around you, the people around you and then you will understand why I had to write this. I have not added personal experiences here, because they are my personal experiences and when you recount them, they are merely stories and they would have lost their crux. Read this post and look within yourself and link your own experiences to it and the resulting experience will be Powerful and Unique. But more importantly it would be Personal.
Some of you may find it sexist to find me using the word 'man' instead of 'individual' below. I use it merely because I find it powerful. I do not use man in the traditional sense of man. The word and its power appeals to me more than its physical connotation. You may still find this to be sexist, but I see man & woman in the same sense, the same mentality and in possession of the same power and judged in the same regard. I stopped seeing men and women different long back. I don't claim that I had this disposition always, with so much finality in my stance. That stance is when the hammering stops for a moment and you pause to see that a specific part of the sculpture is perfect and complete and it should not be changed ever again.
We have all been brought up to believe that in the context of morality, black is bad and white is good, metaphorically speaking. We all so believed it when we were young. But society does an injustice here. We will never ever deal with situations that can be classified as black or white. Never ever..The black and white system of contrasting that society provides is simply a framework that society hopes (and wishes) will be useful when we will eventually face gray. Because the truth of the world is that we will always and almost only have to deal with gray. Shades of gray. And us in our all naivety try to find whether that shade of gray that we are forced to deal every now and then is closer to white and farther from black. But how can we ever judge which shade of gray is closer when the shade isn't properly defined in the color spectrum? Our own interpretation of the framework can only be extrapolated so far without having a common consensus within our peers on morality. After that is the abyss of the unknown,the undefined,the uncharted path. After that every man makes his own morality. His morality can be interpreted in a number of ways simply because extrapolation can only go so far. His gut feeling becomes (but isn't gut feeling only an 'algebraic' sum of all his moulding experiences, good and bad?), his moral guide. Darkness is such an easy concept to understand. There is light and by association there should be darkness. But how difficult is it to venture out in the dark without light. And thus to help men venturing out into the morally gray areas society provides another system.I call it The Social Feedback System
Social Feedback system: The all-pervasive, restraining systemI know it by this name. You may have another name. Some of you may have been under its influence and yet would not have been aware of it at all. Some of you care about it as much as you care if someone told you that corruption is rampant in India. You know it is prevalent in India but that is how things are now. There is nothing you could do to change the system.
I call it a system and not simply an elaborate process. It is a full fledged system with its own machinery to achieve its aim. But what is it?
It is that fearful clinging feeling that prevents you from doing something different that is in gross opposition to what is perceived 'normal' by the society at large.
Why do people hesitate to steal? Because it is wrong? But who told you what was wrong and what was right? Because it is unbecoming of a 'normal' social person? So what difference does it make to you or anyone else if society thinks anything about you?
Ultimately it is because every man hates to be the odd man out. As simple as that. Men want to be perceived as 'normal' to his peers. When they want to do something different which has not yet been defined by public opinion, he tries to extrapolate it in his mental framework to see if it falls within the normalcy demanded by society. More often than not, fear pulls them back and they stay within the 'loop'.
And then there are men who do not understand the need for this social restraining system.(They may or may not come under the purview of morally sound men as perceived by society)..More specifically they have outgrown the need for this feedback system. For they have seen what lies outside of this 'loop'.
The endless opportunities without any more strings pulling them back. The power to accomplish anything that they wish. The power to build and destroy empires without the tiniest bit of remorse.The power to be the richest man in the world without the tiniest bit of guilt.The power to proudly declare that the world is wrong when the world screams back "Heresy!!". There was a time when the white man expected the black man to be his slave and society perceived it to be perfectly normal. Abraham Lincoln felt it was wrong in his eyes and his Emancipation Proclamation is his legacy to the world. Today our society cringes on the fact that slavery was very real and existed in our so called civilized society. On the same note Hitler felt that Jews were responsible for Germany's failure and his persecution of Jews was his legacy. If World War II had ended differently our social perception to Jews would have changed forever
Now those who outgrow this system are two. The first bunch include those men whose actions result indirectly in significant changes in the collective, in the public opinion. The Public Opinion appears to be a force of power, enforcing its will on others, bringing back the 'lost sheep' to the fold.But it is ironic that this collectivism is formed from seeds of ideas knowingly or unknowingly planted by a few determined individuals. The rest are merely following the tenets set by them.These men are the ones who shift society's collective morality..And when their actions result in the threshold of enlightenment of public opinion overtaking the threshold of the usually accompanied arrogance society assumes them to have for straying far from the 'path', it is then the public which would shift its stance and it would indeed be a tectonic shift. It is essentially a race between enlightenment of the new idea propagated by the visionaries vs hostile opposition to these ideas in their own separate races to cross threshold/finish line and the first one to cross finish results in the public adopting or rejecting an idea. It takes time but such men do come and when they go they take the responsibility for shifting society's morality.
And then are other men. These are the ones who too do outgrow the system, but do not realise why the system was there in the first place. To provide a safety net. The system was designed to be a safety net for those men who dared not to venture out lest they face the unknown and the inexplicable. They outgrow the system but with no strong conviction of what to do next. Their sense of direction, of purpose has not matured to lead them from there on or dangerously may have never even existed. They are quoted frequently as the reason why the Social Restraining System should always exist. As a safety net. To pull those who are not ready to face the truly Chaotic "World".
You might think that the feedback system kills innovation, original ideas, discouraging people walking down the less trodden path. But it is a necessary evil. Not everyone was born to be an "Individual". The pro pounder of original ideas. The shapers of Human Morality. Most of them tend to gravitate towards opinions which are already set in stone. They feel safer. They are happy as the collective than as the individual. The 'loop' is their home. Outside of the loop is the strange and the unknown. And the beauty of life is that there is nothing right or wrong in staying within the loop or outside!