Saturday, May 19, 2007

Traditional Conformance

Non-conformism is undesirable. A great man (I think it was Einstein or George Bernard Shaw) once said "The reasonable man tries to adapt himself to the environment, while the unreasonable man makes the environment to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man". Well, who cares about great men, nowadays, anyways?

I am far away from the altar of greatness, even prospective greatness. If I were born in a different era - an era of philosophers, of thinkers, of historians, of sociologists maybe, by now, I would have already staked my claim to greatness!! But, it seems unlikely in this world.

But, I am a non-conformist. Not a radical, though. But, I refuse to believe that things could be done in one way only. That the beaten path is the best path. I would like to do something - anything in a way which no one has tried before. And it is not easy.

If people realize that, then its only trouble. Either way. In one case, you will be brandished as 'different' and you will not be considered for anything which is supposedly 'mundane' by their own dictum, in which case you lose out on a lot of things. In another, they will try to explain to you, that you lack basic sense of reason and intelligence and that they are the last torch-bearers of the highest form of intellect - that of following tradition.

The explanations are fascinating. And of course, what is spectacular and fascinating, glitzy and sparkling, in today's world, is more likely to be ridiculous and devoid of either rationality or intellect. Some of the choicest ones to have been thrown at the non-conformists and their possible replies:

"Our ancestors were not fools. They did it this way so there must be some merit in that!"
I am sure every one of us have heard one version of this or the other. I have no reason to believe that my ancestors were fools and in the same breath no reason either to believe that they were not. Generations after us, would think exactly the way about us. What they did, could have been right in their era but can be wrong in ours. After all, every philosophy does have a time.

"What will the people say?"
I do care what people think, but only when it does not interefere in anyone else's life. Apart from that, they may go to hell, for all I care. I can only give them an assurance on my part that I will be joining them there!

"My head is hung in shame when people speak to me of your actions!"
If you believe that you have done a fair job of inculcating the idea of questioning every premise put forth, that I will not accept any moral code blindly, unflinchingly, and exhaustively but would rationalize and filter out what is best in all, then you would not be ashamed of me even if I were the ONLY one talking nonsense in a sea of so-called sensible people. Otherwise, you have failed and if you have failed, then the only option left for you is to shut up, sit back and enjoy the spectacle!

"Why cannot you be normal? It is great if my neighbour's children do something of that sort. But I want my children not to disturb the social equilibrium!!"
I do not know what is normal. I am NOT normal. If I am capable of disturbing the social equilibrium, then, well, I have satisfied the first premise by which I started this post - I do belong to the club of 'greats'. And since, I do not, by reverse logic my actions would not even cause the flicker of an eyelid.

So here is to ancestral superiority, set structures, laid-out procedures and societal norms. May you all rest in peace. And let me be.