Controversies -the how and why of them?
Writing on controversial and sensitive issues is like simultaneously doing tight rope walking, swinging and leaping as trapezium player, shooting arrows and training to avoid bullets.
In the present day there is a highly competitive race to generate controversy it is indeed a bold attempt to write on an extremely controversial as well as a volatile issue like "RACE".
Because there is a sickening tendency to cherry pick and twist certain, observations and statements even out of reports of ordinary facts and information.
It is so bad that even auto spell check mostly does not allow the word 'Humane'.
So, it is really welcome that Gautam Adhikari has ventured to write is column about one such controversial issue in today's TOI Chennai edition and I am also happy that he quotes from 'Metaphors We Live By' written by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson
My rejoinder below as comment is more of an observation on the root causes of such vexed issues that disturb humanity periodically and at regular intervals and this comment is rather long as usual spiced with many links and sublinks because I feel we must address root causes rather than jumping to offer quick fix remedies or offering sweeping statements or sermonizing.
While almost no aspect of the issue racism can be justified on any ground it would be hypocritical to deny that it exists .
However , unfortunately human perceptions and perspectives have not matured to evolve to implement impartial frames of references at least in the domain of social cohabitation as a species to share the natural resources and opportunities for survival with normal humane compassion.
We cannot solve any wrong doing or problem by denying certain obvious facts, nor can we correct any historical blunders through histrionic reactions.
Evolution of civilization as well as civilized evolution both depend on adaptation, adjustments, accommodation and assimilation of multiple ways of life and valuing the verity and virtue of variety.
It is sign of immaturity as well as symptom of sick mentality to get cocooned in identity cages avoiding intruders and restricting migrations.
It is equally bad and sad when terms or words or labels like 'liberal' that refer to some lofty ideal are appropriated by some self proclaimed vested interest groups as a batch of self certification.
It is equally bad and sad when terms or words or labels like ' racist' or ' sectarian' are wantonly assigned to certain outfits again by vested interest groups to engage in brain washing techniques to manipulate the narratives.
Certain inevitable aspects of life are accretions that act as both a protective carapace as well as an extraneous luggage which may not be not intrinsically necessary to live a life like certain identities that emanate out of socio-cultural , religious , political, regional, linguistic affinities. There is nothing wrong even feeling proud about such identities because they , very often, define our personalities too and are inevitable part of our personality but what is more important to have the maturity to acknowledge everyone has a right to wear a proud batch of their own identity without mocking at or hurting others' identities.
While all of us feel the need for unity what unity needs is felling for all by all.
Unless we accept facts and realities, willing to include every human beings with all his/her strengths and weaknesses ; shed our strong prejudices [though difficult at times] ; appreciate different identities and proactively promote acceptance of differences ; kick off xenophobic attitudes; inculcate tolerance and compassion as inevitable values,; value variety to vindicate unity we may not be able to get rid of divisive designs of vested interest lobbies.
Unfortunately, unintentionally, unconsciously we may all end up extolling the wrong things. Both our individual self and social self are to a large extent shaped by how we relate with our circumstances and how our contexts relate with us.
Cognitive neuroscientist Bruce Hood's exploration of the building blocks of what we experience as the “self” in "The Self Illusion: How the Social Brain Creates Identity'
Amazon review of the book runs excellently as , "Most of us believe that we are unique and coherent individuals, but are we? The idea of a "self" has existed ever since humans began to live in groups and become sociable. Those who embrace the self as an individual in the West, or a member of the group in the East, feel fulfilled and purposeful. This experience seems incredibly real but a wealth of recent scientific evidence reveals that this notion of the independent, coherent self is an illusion - it is not what it seems. Reality as we perceive it is not something that objectively exists, but something that our brains construct from moment to moment, interpreting, summarizing, and substituting information along the way. Like a science fiction movie, we are living in a matrix that is our mind.
In The Self Illusion, Dr. Bruce Hood reveals how the self emerges during childhood and how the architecture of the developing brain enables us to become social animals dependent on each other. He explains that self is the product of our relationships and interactions with others, and it exists only in our brains. The author argues, however, that though the self is an illusion, it is one that humans cannot live without.
But things are changing as our technology develops and shapes society. The social bonds and relationships that used to take time and effort to form are now undergoing a revolution as we start to put our self online. Social networking activities such as blogging, Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter threaten to change the way we behave. Social networking is fast becoming socialization on steroids. The speed and ease at which we can form alliances and relationships is outstripping the same selection processes that shaped our self prior to the internet era. This book ventures into unchartered territory to explain how the idea of the self will never be the same again in the online social world."
The author does all these while analyzing the biography of the most paradoxical character .Howard Hughes, at once a legendary aviator, movie mogul, tycoon, and socialite, and a reclusive billionaire housebound by his deathly phobia of dirt. He was a fearless aviation pioneer who set and broke countless records, yet he remained terrified of dying from germs. Hughes spent his final days unbathed, dressed in rags, with long sticky hair, curling nails, and the remnants of five hypodermic needles in his arms. He was worth $2 billion!!
Reality is neither any axiomatic certainty nor is it a frozen faith to be scrupulously followed by blinkered believes operating within fixed fences or identity cages but it is mostly contextually shaped by relationships and how we relate to others and things and environment etc . No human being can be know all or omniscient personality to dictate anything to the rest but we all need to respect certain time cherished and time tested values for the good of everyone.
All media persons must realize that the world has evolved beyond and besides stereotyped and homogenized narrow labels left and right.
Identities of all hues while they enable creating social groups at the same time enfeeble options for universal acceptance.
The whole gamut of identity -its veneration and votaries of its politicization
Nicely the Oneness of all.
“In the end nothing less than the whole of everything can be the truth of anything at all”- William James
“We live in a changing universe, and few things are changing faster than our conception of it”-Timothy Ferris
“There is no tomorrow. There is only a planet turning on its axis, and a creature given to optimistic fancies”-Robert Brault
“Evolution itself is an open ended and indeterminate process”… “Given the remarkable progress in our understanding of biochemistry, molecular biology, and evolution as a whole … we have failed to develop concepts, ideas, even a language that could capture the dance of this life” - Guy Murchie
“Humans have a need for a stable frame of reference. Religion apparently fills this need. In effect, humans crave answers to questions that no other source of knowledge has an answer to, which only religion may seem to answer. However, a sense of free will must be given in order for religion to appear healthy. An authoritarian notion of religion appears detrimental.”- Erich Fromm.
In the end media integrity must be emphasized over press freedom.
Matured and diplomatically worded reporting of facts must be emphasized over manipulative controversy generating and sensationalism and scandal peddling journalism.