Thursday, April 30, 2009

Re-arranging my prejudices

This one is inspired from a post made by a young blogger friend .. here goes

At school, my social studies teacher managed to bring in the entire world into the tiny class room, as kids of impressionable ages, we sat and almost watched her words. We loved the Freedom movement of India, felt the surge of national pride each time the freedom struggle was described. We visited the various states of India through her eyes and words, the beautiful seven sisters of the northeast, the majestic mystery of rajesthan, the lions of Gir, the temples of the south and the paradise called kashmir were as visible to us as the state we belonged to. Through her we learnt about the structure of society, of various types of government, we learnt of autocracy, dictatorship, democracy, socialism and capitalism.

That was our age of falling for ideals. Many of my friends, including me fell in love with the idea of socialism - an utopian state, a class less society, one for all and all for one. The vigour and the enthusiasm of our teacher made us believe in this ideal. we opposed capitalism, the industrial revolution was looked at only as a source of torture and endless hours of work for the labour class. We ignored all that was good about machines and factory systems, we ignored the massive inventions and the determined evolution of capitalism. For us it was simply a bane on society. The USSR was the place to be, Karl Marx and Lenin were the heroes. Belonging to Kolkata, this ideology was fully appreciated and promoted by my grandparents and various other elders of the family. I was thrilled to be RED and so were they.

We grew and ideologies changed, we started seeing the world through adult eyes and felt for the first time a contradiction. For the first time... I remember telling myself.. " Socialism looks a hell lot better on paper than in the queues I see waiting for a loaf of bread in the chilling winter nights of Russia." For the first time I looked again at Capitalism.. I sensed a freedom there, the freedom to choose my destiny, the freedom to work hard and reap the benefits. Yes I was in college now, almost ready to start a career, and Capitalism provided opportunities that I had failed to see in school, I had failed to see, the discrepeancy in socialism. Why I asked should I share the benefits of my hard work with a lazy bum, why should he get what I get, when he is not putting in even half my efforts?" And as if in validation to my thoughts Socialism was crumbling all over the Globe. "Yes!" I told myself, "My teacher didn't get it right!! Capitalism it is.."

Some more growing later.. a balanced view evolved. Nothing is probably right or wrong, there are shades that are grey in every sphere. In every structure, in every society, it is the flaws that probably make the structure unique. And so it is with these two economic philosophies . Socialism and Capitalism allure us based on our opportunistic nature or phase in life, similarly a lot of ideals lose their shine as we face the realities in life. Utopia becomes a state of mind and so do a lot of other things. None of us is beyond prejudice, because none of us is God. We deal with things the way it suits us best at a particular point in time. It is all fine to say, "I don't believe in casteism... " until its thrown on your face so close that you have no escape. That's when our reaction will prove the true mettle. I do not know how I will react, but I have no idealistic expectations from myself. But think about it.. prejudice is a two way thing... are not the victims prejudiced too?