Many people admire or worship some people as their heroes. Some even start to behave like or adopt some qualities of the person they admire. While on one hand such an attitude may do them some good, on the other hand, it may be harmful too, as it subdues their originality and might suppress some of the good qualities of the person who is blindly aping his/her hero.
Taken generally, two kinds of people may have heroes. Those who do not have either the capacity or the time to think about social and ethical problems, or those who think about social and ethical problems and come to one or more workable solutions.
In the first case, either the person is so ill-informed or uninformed that he can’t think beyond his personal needs and that of his family, and so, prefers outsourcing the thinking of world and social problems to someone else. So any person who seems to have logical solutions and rational reasonings for the social and ethical problems is taken as a hero of sorts by such a person.
In the latter case, the people who are intelligent and intellectual enough to be able to devote time and think about social and ethical problems logically and come to rational conclusions and solutions, know the kind of dedication that goes in into this kind of thinking, the arguments and discussions which occur with other people and within one’s own self, and so they respect and admire any person, who, like them, has the courage to stand up to the rest of the world. They may just respect these people as their equals or they might genuinely choose this kind of a person as their hero.
The rest of the people are those who think but are not able to come to any logical and workable solutions, either because they do not have the dedication enough to come to any logical conclusion themselves, or even if they do come to any conclusion it is only for a short while as their thinking is going through a transitory phase and keeps on changing with every new experience and because their knowledge and experience is simply not enough to guide them towards a workable solution. They may honestly believe their thinking to be logical, but even if they know they are going through a phase, most of them would not have the honesty to admit it. They are those who would discuss or argue just for the sake of discussion but would not like to come to any conclusions because if the conclusion is arrived at by their adversary, it would show their own incompetence and could bring a stop in their direction of thinking. So they would prefer to be sceptical. They would rather criticise anyone who has reached a conclusion before them and has full confidence in his reasoning and its inferences. They would rather say “How can you be so sure?”, or “That answer might work for you, but what makes you think it will work for others?”, instead of taking the route he took and exploring the validity of that conclusion themselves. They would rather attack him and defend their own shortcomings than applaud his confidence and reasoning.
The ultimate question which arises at this juncture is – Whose confidence to admire? Whose thinking is logical? Whose dedication is real?
Without knowing — really knowing — the person/s in question the answers to these questions are just about impossible to find out. Just about every person whose thinking is inclined towards philosophy or has an inquisitive mind, might feel his dedication to philosophy, ethics, or whatever his subject of interest, is real. That his thinking is logical. And there is no way of knowing whether this person’s apparent confidence is true or if it is just a phase, a pretence, or overconfidence; except when you know the person deeply.
Similarly one person’s thinking may seem logical to him but not to others and another person’s thinking may seem logical to himself as well as others too. So even though at a given time and for a given problem, a logical solution is objectively logical, i.e; universally logical, other people’s subjective views towards it may hinder its universal acceptance. And going by the literacy statistics, the percentage of people against the logical solution might be more than the percentage of people who favour it.
So how can a logical solution be established as objectively logical? How can a logical hero be established as a hero objectively? More importantly, is Right and Wrong, Good and Bad, Beauty and Ugliness in an action, thought or a thing, objective or subjective? And if it subjective, what right do we have to judge anyone else? And if it objective then who decides the standards of objectivity? How are we to know that the decider is impartial or not, or in other words, is his decision objective or subject to his personal prejudices? It does not matter if it is a singular person or a group. The logic holds. And even if the solutions and the standards are arrived at objectively how can they be enforced upon or accepted by the rest of humanity who are too caught up in their own personal blinkered versions of life and ideas and refuse to open up to views contrary or contradictory to their own.
Can you imagine how the world would see Christ or Buddha, were they to roam the earth now and preach what they did over 2000 years ago?
Written in October 1990
Dialogues with myself
The above thoughts, or 'Dialogues with Myself', were a big part of my adolescent years, where not content with the way society and religion spoke about God and many other things and expected us kids to accept everything without questioning, since they knew better, I tried to debate against their beliefs using my own beliefs reached at by my logical understanding on the subject.
I was unwilling to accept their answers at face value and thus many questions arose in my heart, my mind, my soul for which I sought for the answers within. This gave rise to further questions that seemingly were posed by my own conditioning, the value system given by my family, related and unrelated elders, my education and the society, and I tried to find answers to these as well.
There will be more such posts of 'Dialogues with Myself' where I am questioning the existing norms and wisdoms of the society. Some of my thoughts and answers I reached back then in my high school and early college days are still relevant to me, some I have outgrown and yet some others I have built upon later as my thoughts and understanding matured and life experiences taught me more about others and myself.