Tuesday, April 17, 2007

THE HECK WITH THE JONESES

A while back I happened to change channels and stumble an episode of a foreign TV reality show as they are called, and what do you know, these otherwise brilliant and beautiful young people were agreeing to the most disgusting kinds of torture in order to win a prize.
Some of them had to eat sausages made of living , squealing beetles which sprouted bitter liquid when they were touched, or munch and swallow clumps of furry caterpillars, or huge chunks of four day old rotten fish with the maggots crawling in it. All this to pass through stages of this game which meant higher levels of loathsome torture and a possible grand prize of so many USD -With the amount of retching, vomiting and sheer suffering going on I ended up wondering if I should SMS Amnesty International (-not to mention PETA: after all- how do you think the poor darned caterpillars felt being chewed to death on Candid Camera? ), and would I do this sort of thing even if someone obviously really sick offered me a million dollars to do it?
I figured finally that it wasn’t the money really (you really cant get very far with so many USD in USA-they have a real high COL), these kids had taken on something and wanted to prove themselves, that they can do this , that they would win this – and stubbornly did not want to back out of the series of tortures arranged for them.-because they didn’t want to lose face.
Well , have you ever found yourself going though something really uncomfortable, miserable and downright painful , just because it was the done thing ?because you wanted to prove a point? Or because your loved ones or peers expected this from you ? This all sounds quite Noble and Meaningful and its probably how man got on the moon (big deal) but at the end of the day its also the root cause underlying some less glamourous institutions ranging from FGM, bulimia, body piercing and widow burning, to of course, the taking of ones own life when all else fails…in other words , perhaps sometimes it would be actually safer and less fatal, to say “Heck ,no” if you don’t want to do something, in spite of what the people at office think. …

I hail from a family of non conformists. No, its not a cult, but it does mean we have most of the time lived our lives the way we please, and are often thus inexplicably happy.
We gave up worrying about public opinion a long while back. So our actions and reactions in life are not governed by such worries as “Chee lamayo what will the neighbors say ?”(or for the word neighbors, you can safely substitute: “ relations” “classmates” or “people in the staff van” etc)
Before you get me wrong here, this does not mean that we run naked through the streets *or drive without third party insurance or sit around doing any of the hyper embarrassing things that drunk people do when they lose their inhibitions; it just means we have a family code of not letting world opinion interfere with our decision making and how we find happiness in life.

Its extremely sad to me therefore when I see so many of my lovely friends suffering in life , not because they believe in something , but because they will worry about what the neighbours/relations/co workers or what have you are likely to say to their decisions.

Take local marriages. I know you’ve seen them too, the sad examples of obviously mismatched people dragging through years of misery because they cannot gather the courage to end it decently and face the brief publicity involved . They grasp desperately to the excuse that its “For The Sake of the Kids,” as a stock reason to continue with a gloomy limbo of emotional imprisonment, until the kids themselves turn back in their mid thirties and probably choke with guilty amazement at the prolonged anguish they have unwittingly caused.
I suspect too, that this is again nothing but a stock excuse, because people who live together through years of arguing, screaming and cheating- “for the sake of the kids”- hardly ever take to more constructive ways to stay married, such as marriage counseling, therapy or alternative arrangements (heck – even swinging-) because again even those words have certain stigmas attached to them…
Finally since adultery is fairly well accepted socially (by the guy population anyway who keep it a well guarded secret) this becomes the first and last resort and you don’t need me to tell you there is a heck of a lot of it going on…
There is of course a positive and limiting factor in public opinion: 21st century man doesn’t run round naked, copulate or defecate on the streets and that is good. But in practice has it ever prevented dastardly crime or any of the atrocities that really matter? Have terrorists or dictators or underworld killers ever actually thought twice before they lobbed a hand grenade and killed people, on the lines of “oh goodness what will mallika-anti think if this is traced to me ?” Highly unlikely – but neither probably would they like to be caught picking their noses on State TV – that’s just so not cool.

Perhaps then, its time to non-conform. To take a step back and think – this is your life .You are finally responsible for how happy you are, you can make it happen, you can decide how it goes and since these are not the dark ages there is some measure of freedom of choice.
You wont be burnt at the stake in Town Hall just because you decided to walk away from something that is making you miserable. Quit worrying about the opinions of the people up the road –chances are they have their own problems to sort out and would probably want you to be happy anyway.
Or at least not another messy statistic.

……………………………………………………………
*Not a good idea anyway with all this dust and pollution
Authors note: Non conformity, in general, should not result in damage to self either.-so avoid doing things you see on the Jackass Movies-some of those guys don’t have teeth, and you can imagine how they lost them . One wonders what else they don’t have.

2 comments:

Java Jones said...

Well put! But hey, I ain't no conformist an if I were, I be offended at dat title of yo's

al juhara said...

aw hey,what can i say - thousand apologies