A rule book is important for any society to draw a line but there is a reason we still have judges sitting in our courts and not machines to take decisions. Humans are complex for a machine to understand, machines can understand 0 or 1, the black or white but you need humans to understand the shades of grey.
My society believes it to be everyone’s job to view everything through evaluating lenses and judge it. We see things very critically and label them as right or wrong, black or white but we don’t have any shades of grey. We have our own preconceived notions of right and wrong, guiding us through our journey of the ‘judgmental us’. We judge others when they don’t conform to the standards we have set up and we start stereotyping them.
I grew up in a family which I call as one of the largest families found in the recorded human history 😛 Well! Jokes apart, I have huge families on both sides, my Mom’s as well as my Dad’s side. I would not comment much on my Dad’s side of family, since I haven’t got much opportunity to really observe them so well. I will share my experience of my maternal family. We have close to 35 members staying in a stretch of 10 acres of house at all times, with equal number of servants to serve them. During summers this number reaches somewhere around 150 with the daughters of the house visiting their maiden family, along with their kids. I was one of the child visiting my maternal grandma along with my mother during my summer breaks. Though I still wonder why, since my dad stayed in Muscat (Arab) and I loved visiting him. He had a beautiful traditional house in sand color and right behind my dad’s house in Muscat (Arab) was a non-commercial natural beach. The most breathtaking beauty of nature, I hold a memory of. Well! Back to my learning, growing up in a family that huge, makes you a conscious part of the society that we live in and I learned that, to make a place in this society you need to fake all the time, fake a happy life, fake your riches, how wonderful and cultural your kid’s upbringing is. How decent you are and so on but nothing which actually is normal like, how you dress up when they are not around, drinking, sex, Partying with your friends, having friends from both the sexes, eating non veg just to name a few, here are a taboo. Not that all those 35 natives of this place lead a life which is different from us and hence might be a cultural shock to them but just because we shy off in accepting a CHANGE and hence we all play along pretending to have never changed from my Granny’s times. No hard feelings because I understand this is a gesture of respect from them to their elders who might be rigid to change. Now, faking is one thing done in front of your elders, out of so called respect but also gossiping about it when these elders are not even around is what bogs me out. We gossip about who is not speaking the truth about conforming to these fake norms, whereas, we being kids knew that none of them does because kids are innocent and they tell their friends what they do or don’t but how they are trained well before bringing them here to not tell the truth.
Knowing how our elders lied, this became a lesson for me and my cousins to stereotype and judge people. I started judging everyone, at school, within friends, family everyone around me. In fact I started seeing myself from those judging lenses to the extent that I stopped being myself. Now when I grew up practicing it, I realized that this was all too fake to be yourself and life was becoming difficult because you are all the time trying to think from other’s point of view and unfortunately you would never succeed in it as you are not them, you are you. It was only then that I found it staggering difficult to conform to these fake societal norms and still be happy, is when I made a choice, A CHOICE of being receptive to the shades of grey. Life is very simple and we unnecessarily complicate it. I live in a wonderful society now than my mother did. A society I chose, a society of likeminded people and others are not even welcome in my life any more. I don’t have to fake extravagant riches but it is a society where it is ok to tell my friends I am not so happy about a few things in my life and how I enjoy a few others which were tabooed as sinful in the society I grew up. How can wearing a western dress which is completely covered a taboo but wearing a revealing sari is not, getting married to someone you know and love be a taboo but marrying a stranger and start producing his kids is not, how is a society expecting a woman to marry in their late twenties or when they turn thirty but still keep their virginity intact. How do we believe a straight woman not to get attracted to the opposite sex? Why do we expect a woman not so happy in her marriage ties to not break it and live with it so that she is not judged? Aren’t our expectations opposing the nature, opposing the intent of God? No disrespect to my culture but now I have come a long way, where I still hold the quality of trying to understand how others feel, which I call as ‘empathy’ but also have stopped living just for others. I hope to see a society where we are still empathetic but at the same time we are more accepting to personal choices made out of personal situations. I have learnt my lesson well that everything cannot be ‘Black and White, that there are shades of grey’.