Isn’t it strange that we all have alarmingly opposite reactions to the same stimulus, describe the same event in millions of different ways and reach all kind of polarised conclusions on the same experience? Fascinating. Isn’t it? Let’s face it. We are different. No, not just you, not just me, not just he, she, they. We all are.
What makes us different? Our upbringing? Our experiences? Our age? Our nationality or is it just the way our brains are wired, I really can’t say. Though, I have read about it but comprehension still eludes me, so let’s just say that I don’t know. All I know is that a movie trashed by one critic is always enjoyed by the other; the comment said in jest at a party is considered witty by some but criticised by the other, and an innocuous point of view may be seen as ‘just being honest’ by some but called, ‘inflammatory’ by the other. Unfortunately, these differences have consequences. They invariably leave a trail of arguments, fights and chaos in their wake.
The fact is that it’s hard to shy away from individual differences, especially when you are an inherent part of a society. There will always be differences in the way you live, the kind of food you eat, the way you conduct yourself and even the books you read. For example, when I began reading and recommending ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins, many parents showed their displeasure. How could I allow my young readers to read about killing friends in the pretext of this ‘Dystopian fiction’? It was preposterous, they said! Well, I agreed. The idea of ‘killing’ by children does indeed leave a very bad taste and this deluge of ‘Dystopian World’ thrust upon us, in the form of printed words and visual images are disturbing to say the least. But, the trend is around us and upon us. So, should we hide? Should we keep our young readers secluded and safe with blinders on? Or should we use this opportunity to discuss moral rights and wrongs with the young minds? Think about it. Shouldn’t we initiate a discussion at this point to introduce the real world of child soldiers and guide their information with sensitivity? Honestly, I myself would like to keep the little ones safe for as long as I can, but I believe in- ‘inform, arm and educate rather than shield, hide and forbid’. That’s my take. Yours might be different.
Let’s take another example of ‘differences’ and how differently people react to circumstances. Zora Naele Hurston and Virginia Woolf were two women authors with independent thoughts and great writing styles, but both had two contrasting views of life. One celebrated it and the other unfortunately, ended it. Zora was a woman of colour in segregated America, who chose to remain buoyant and optimistic in spite of being discriminated against and Virginia, a woman of privilege decided to stuff her pockets with stones and drown in a shallow river. Let it be known that I enjoy both their writings but the point I want to make is that whether it’s a common man or a literary genius, we can have differences in attitudes and that makes us different.
Now, attitude in life and moral rights may be serious stuff so, let’s see our reactions to ordinary, mundane things like ‘Bollywood Masala’ movies. Yes, I am talking about the new SRK film, Chennai Express, which has neatly divided my friend circle in to two. Those who could not stand the movie and those who could not see it trashed. Who is right? Probably both and not because the movie is good or bad but because both have rights to an opinion and both may have their own valid reasons.
The point to ponder is not whether you like Shah Rukh khan or not but, the fact that people have the right to being different. Interestingly, most people know that they have a right to being different and a right to their own opinion. Oh yes mister! Even the weakest and the smallest and the youngest knows this right. People assert this right often enough (watch a two-year old throwing a tantrum, if you are not convinced). In this respect, even the adults are not too different from a two-year old, except that they do not throw themselves on the floor to wail, but are a bit more discreet. Their displeasure, though remains obvious enough (yes, I am a mortal too and I have been known to show such signs as well). Unfortunately, we seem to forget that this world is made up of people, all equally important and all equally entitled to an opinion.
Now that I am older (ahem!) I think, differences need to be celebrated. After all, if we all were Usain Bolts then who would be cheering for him in Moscow now. Talking about Bolt, I have a confession. Though I celebrate emotional and psychological victories here, I am a big fan of physical endurance and achievements as well. Victory, in any form makes me gape in amazement. Be it, Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce or Russian Isinbayeva, or even the 18 tribal girls from the farms of Ormanjhi, India who ended up in the U-14 soccer team against all odds. I am a fan of physical excellence! It’s a tribute to the hours of hard work, dedication and sheer determination. And that’s another example of differences. I can never achieve that brand of physical excellence, but then I can appreciate it. Can’t I?
Leaving you all with the thought that differences in reactions make us human, make us real and make us individuals. Or else, we would all be robots in some sci-fi movie, answering in the same monotone somewhere in a ‘Dystopian World’ of the future! So, reconcile with the differences, my friends! We may have been irked by someone’s opinion at some point of time, but since we don’t have an inkling or an idea of their circumstances, we may as well respect their opinions. In spite of the differences, they might be as justified as we all are.
By the way, I am meeting lovely people with ideas, dreams and willing hearts these days. The fact that they are all strangers who have come forward, connected and joined hands, gives me an indication of what keeps the world moving– faith. I am extremely grateful to these people from various walks of life for their support. We all may be different you see, but somewhere the cause is common.
Coming up- An expert in Counselling Psychometric Therapies, wishes to dispel myths and educate people about mental health and depression. More about her and her views in my next post. Till then, celebrate the differences!