You are new to a city. Work gets you there and you commute hours each day to reach home from office and back. You are walking in a suburban crossway. You pass by the same person, a stranger everyday. You simply happen to develop a liking for him out of the want for familiarity and routine. The tenth next time you meet him, you get acquainted with each other. Your conversations being restricted to – “Hi, How is work?, family?, weather?…the current affairs and the likes of it.” . On one of these days, you are pale and fall flat on the ground when luckily this someone is around and helps you to reach home, go to a doctor. He understands that you live alone and hence do not have anybody to take care of you. He is humane enough and visits you everyday taking care of your medicines and your meals. He sees you through and is just a call away when you are in need. In all the conversations you have had with him till now, you have been general and maintained a superficial level. But you are thankful to him for all the extra pain he has taken and been with you. Sub consciously somewhere within you, you begin trusting him and start opening up yourself. Within a few days, you develop a camaraderie of years that any two human beings are worthy of sharing.
One fine day, you understand that your pal for the last one month is not that normal as you thought him to be. He is a homosexual or may be a person nursing HIV or simply from a caste or religion that you have been conditioned since childhood, not to trust (for example you could be a Hindu and have been taught not to trust a Muslim). It is not that he hid the fact from you, but the fact remains that in the time you spent with each other it seemed almost immaterial or irrelevant to know this. Both of you enjoy the company of each other and that’s that. Does your outlook to the person change by the mere fact that nature has bestowed him with either a different sexual preference or that he is born into a religion which is today substituted (wrongly though) with terrorism or that he picked up a dreading virus while he was donating blood to a needy?
What happens to you? Do you choose to let these notions built by someone else to overrule you? You have no fact or no incident to prove that your association with him has been harmful in any manner. Do you choose to stay within a blanket of beliefs which are not your own?
Just as any normal human being (as we like to address ourselves when we wish to express our joy in our incapability of making our own decisions) would do, you would probably accuse him of having hidden a life changing fact. What is this convenient difference that we create when we discover some facts as mentioned above? The above mentioned facts are still a bit drastic, what happens when we discover that one of our friends who is married, has fallen in love all over again? As much as such a person and the other adult involved know what they are doing, the people around them exhibit more concern by shrinking away from them.
In most of the cases that I come across wherein people wear these convenience blankets , people has chosen the easier way out of not seeing each person in objectivity but through coloured lenses of either social stigma or peer/parental pressure. In their own hearts, they know that nothing is much greater than humanity but yes, it also calls for challenging the paradigms that have been set in through the conditioning given to us over the years.
It ain’t a person’s fault if he happens to acquire a virus( unless of course he was aware and has chosen to perform certain acts which could lead to this), or if he has a sexual preference that we fail to acknowledge or if he is born to a religion that we have given names and labeled as untrustworthy. It is our denial somewhere inside to accept some part of ourselves that gets projected in rejection externally.
What prompted me to write this, was the sheer frivolousness and the casual approach with which we acquire rights to deny an individual his own rights to lead a life that he wishes to in his or her own way. Many a time, it comes out of our need to protect our own self and we create such defenses or adopt the ones already existing. To protect yourself from your own insecurities is fair but forcing your views on someone else (simply to have a group of people agree to you) aint fair to nature. I fail to understand what changes in your relationship with a friend when you discover that any of the above holds true. The person remains the same, may be our thoughts about the person change. Just as I write this, I am reminded of a saying “Most people are other people…” who live by the thoughts planted in them by someone else (not saying good or bad). Generalizations/ generalizing and projections based on these have become a favourite pastime with many of us today.
Not that I have been blessed with a conditioning that has taught me this, even my parents brother/ friends have some of these beliefs in them which they tried to influence me with. For some reasons whatsoever, I managed to challenge such thoughts when they occurred to me and move beyond them. If I cannot accept something in someone, it is my incapacity to take it in and not the other person’s fault for being the way he is. Some basic questions here would be…When was the last time you were misunderstood and how did you feel when nobody listened to you? What are the chances that your colleague working with your for years decides to move away from you knowing that you or your family member has AIDS? How would you feel if you were softly denied employment on the premise that the caste/ religion that you belong to are not well accepted? When we talk of Unity in Diversity, it is all these kinds of diversities that we need to learn to deal with and rise above them.
It is this, which we do with many people around us who seem to have acquired some situations which are perceived as being different from normal. I am not here to propagate any thing, but just to make you question yourself, the next time you are in such a situation and your mind wants to wear a blanket!