Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The hard way

Everyone is born naive but I seem to have stayed that way. There is so much that I never do understand though everyone else around me seems to be quite wise to everything. And so I, periodically, need to seek clarifications from my friends. Not that it has been a great help so far but...

There I was, as usual, with a friend, who had that how-long-is-this-going-to-last look on his face, asking him to clarify my latest confusion. A natural one, I thought. In a country where 'Jugaad' is the normal war-cry, this idea of doing a thing the hard way and eliminating a problem from the root up surely ranks as something out of the way.

"How easy do you think it is to change people's opinions and mindsets?"

"You ask me? I have been trying to change your opinion that you have a brain for so many years but..."

"Yes...yes...stop that will you? I am serious."

"So was I. Anyway...tell me what you want to say", he said, with that world weary 'let us indulge the moron even though he will bore me to tears' tone.

"See, I know you think my wearing tracks and tees to your parties is not done. But, if you beat me up for it..."

"I would, if I were convinced you would look better in anything else. As it is..."

"Listen, will you. If you beat me up, do people say we have to work to change your opinions about the acceptability of tracks and tees or to stop you thinking that you can beat up people because of your opinions?"

"The latter, I suppose..."

"If I go to the police with an assault complaint, do they advice me to stop wearing tracks and tees to parties, even if the policeman actually shares your opinions?"

"Well...try going to the police with this..."

"OK...if I leave my house unlocked and there is a robbery, does the police think that I was at fault for tempting the poor thief or do they register my complaint?"

"Where are you going with all this?"

"I mean, does my opinion count at all in this. Whether I think something is wrong or not, it is only the law that makes it a crime or legal. And even when someone is doing something illegal, it is still illegal for the citizen to take it upon him to punish him, isn't it?"

"You astonish me! I never knew that you could even understand anything...leave alone saying it cogently."

Experience had taught me to ignore these learned commentaries on my abilities. In the past, discussions had been diverted to increasingly tearful defenses of my abilities to no avail.

"Whatever...but the point is that, whenever there is an issue of molestation of women, say, why does everyone talk mainly about changing mindsets? I mean, the mindsets about how they assess women by their dresses and actions, say."

"Are you saying it is not important?"

"Important, yes! But if, say, there is a robbery, you do not say that you need to find ways to make all people honest. Or, eliminate all income disparities...certainly not as the first step. All of that may be desirable...but more difficult to enforce than the illegality of the act."

"A Solomon!! But you fail to consider one thing."

"What is that?"

"See, when someone makes suggestive comments to a woman in a bus and she beats him up, she is lauded as a braveheart...not as a criminal."

"So? She is supposed to take it all silently?"

"Not so! She is supposed to hand him over to the police for punishment, not punish him herself. If she is physically molested, whatever necessary violence she uses is self-defense. If the man is trying to escape, any violence she uses to restrain him is acceptable. But to beat him up as a punishment is illegal. And, yet, Society accepts it and the police accept it too."

"You cannot say both things are the same..."

"Can't I? I mean, if you accept that Society and the police can wink at some illegal actions because, in their opinion, it is justified, then have you not given leeway for them to use their opinions to guide their actions rather than act strictly as per the law of the land?"

"It is precisely because women cannot trust the law to handle these criminals that..."

"Yes! You see, when it comes to opinions about right and wrong, we all differ. Comes to...what is that quaint phrase...ah...'taking the law into your own hands'...we are all agreed that it is alright to do so if we can justify our actions to our own satisfaction."

THIS always happens...I come for clarifications and people confuse me further. The chap was still speaking...

"Since EVERYONE is supportive of putting their own opinions ahead of the law, you need to change the mindset of everyone in society to make them law-abiding. Whereas at least a proportion of society will share your opinion on other things. Changing mindsets there will involve change in lesser people and, so, it is easier to do."

He smirked at me with the satisfaction of an Einstein proposing the 'General Theory of Relativity' and I was as confused as, possibly, Einstein's audience was.

When you are convinced to the core that the law is an ass...and treat it as such...


  1. This is rather direct in many ways and I'm glad to read it from you. No easy answers, are there ever? Well put, Wiseman. Well put.

    1. Thanks Percy! The problem of wanting the police to wink at some 'social crimes' based on their own assessment is that you accustom them to wink at all crimes that THEY think can be condoned. THAT's something that people generally tend to overlook. This is particularly true of the so-called 'social crimes' as opposed to the 'economic crimes'.

  2. A layered article--Deep but subtly so with the glamour and sheen of humor that you have given it.

  3. That was quintessentially 'Suresh'. You make a fabulous point. I'm impressed afresh.

  4. It's such an interesting discussion to follow on what is legally right or wrong, morally right or wrong. I'd like to speak about the greatest good over evil through our actions or the least evil over biggest wrong. A very impressive debate with no closure.

  5. Very well written. I loved the witty and humourous way how you addressed this serious problem. Your article gets people smiling and thinking in a nice way. For example this same issue could have been very inflamatory making everyone with different opinions clash but no...you first cooled the mind of the reader and just smoothly one by one laid down your points of argument. Nice one.

    1. I try to do just that. Good to know I succeeded in this :)

  6. A lot of points covered rather effortlessly ! Kudos to you !

  7. True. People never get the lines between law, ethics and personal preferences.