Saturday, January 22, 2005

Debilitated person exalted

I have been reading a couple of posts by Atanu Dey on the Nehru dynasty and another on his collection of articles against the image of Mother Teresa. Such articles and many others I read occassionally and forget to note, make me wonder: Why do we exalt people and find their debunking unacceptable? No seriously. We need to go into this earnestly. The recent ongoing case against the acharya of a well known South Indian monastary reveals the same trait at large amongst human beings. I supposed a good elephant, when it is in musth, is treated accordingly. The analogy stops there. People being people are likely to do things which is part of their system. Our main problem is in our inability to accept certain human traits as equally posited as others. We love people who are caring and giving and call them good at times prefering to leave out one of the "o", and the instant they do lie or cheat or steal we cover up for them and ignore all the evidence screaming out at us. Why do we tend to do this? There is no point running away to another mumbling to yourself, "I am not like that. Why bother?"

Here is my take on this:
Is it more our reluctance to accept the wrong doings of the godly-person or is it the disgust and associated shame in accepting our own short-sightedness? We hate to admit that we are wrong. When the good images of a person keep running back to our mind's eye and facts keep shouting out the flaws of a person, we are caught between the embarrassing scene of our admitting our lack of judgement and the chance of covering things up to save face. Most people prefer the latter and follow it in their own style. In personal relationships, we blame the other person for misleading us. We summon incidents when s/he was so nice and ask out aloud, "What else was I to believe?" and then follow it up with incidents and our own interpretations of the same and say louder still, "See? Was there anything wrong on my part? What else was I to do? I tried so hard, but..." In more public relations and cults, an organised cover-up operation takes place. Depending on the strength of the cult the phases of this operation take a colour of its own. Some are clever enough to adopt accepting to their lack of judgement and then using that to emotionally turn the tide in their favour by hinging on the human love for reaching out to the vulnerable and readily sensitive kind!!! Let's spend some time in running over our life and seeing the play of this conflict at various points in time. I suppose recognising this is sufficient work in moving towards the "solution".
So what do we do to avoid this? A couple of possibilities:
1. Don't exalt people (Reflected in the wonderful verse in the Tao Te Ching).
2. Don't debunk people. (I love this speech by Marc Antony)
3. Exalt when you feel the need, and debunk when you feel the need. (I am afraid I have nothing to cite here!!)
4. Don't exalt or debunk anyone. (Quite different from 1 and 2 above. Another verse from the Tao Te Ching)

Here above I have covered cases like one covers the truth table for a bivariate expression.

I was wondering whether the following suggestion is well taken. It strikes me as I write this post.
What if a person is taken as s/he is?
Coming to think of it, it pretty much matches the description in possibility 3 above (if you remove the frivolous tones from it). If a person does something good, you complement her/him and move on. If s/he does something which is punishable (as the then laws are defined in the state containing her/him and her/his crime) then punish her/him but do no rebuke her/his past good deed or start finding faults with it. Each stand as separate incidents. Presentism seems to do more damage than the good it promises (did it ever?). If the criminal does good, s/he loses his title of a criminal (why did s/he even get it in the first place?). Take a breath as it comes. So be it with a human being.

Bad Boy Good

In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time. --- Leonardo da Vinci (More about him later)


  1. Parvati10:49 AM

    I think that the only thing I agree with in this post is the third point that you have written - Exalt when you feel the need, debunk when you feel the need.

    And that's what everyone does anyway. And even if one chooses to look at each instance from the same personality as a special present moment, and not look at his past good or bad, one cannot help the fact that there is a continuum to it because of the actions originating from thesame person. Connections need not be made - they are always there, because they are one person then and now, because they belong to one institution then and now. And because they are celebrities and icons then and now.

    2. As to the Tao verses what can I say! - I dont agree with the first one at all. I dont believe in mollycoddling and spoon feeding people all the time for them to do the right thing. Let people have an inner strength and character and not always want things be done for them by others.

    Let me glorify achievers, let me treasure goods that are hard to obtain, but let the other person be solid enough, simple enough to enjoy and appreciate the achievements of the achievers instead of twisting all the glory into something disgusting in his own being, because of his smallness, meanness,pettiness and corrosive jealousy.

    Let us speak the truth, and to add "as we see it" is redundant; because that's what we do anyway.Let us be honest about their being a hierarchy, their being a lateralarchy so to speak, of their being different levels of depth - and once we acknowledge these facts of life and existence we can develop in ourselves the strength to accept them, appreciate the greater and denounce the lesser. Because less and great exist, everytime, every second, everywhere. We cannot run away from this. Let us know to discriminate, to choose, to reject in the right manner.

    And the second verse of Tao again goes against the grain for me - we are always using the power of discrimination, the heavens too are not that equal, it is floods here and good monsoons there, moderation here and an excess just one kilometre away. What possibly can be equal is our own attitude inside of us, it can be one of equal love and compassion towards all, all the time; but again, that doesnt mean that we become blind to the differences in achievement or criminal and non criminal actions.

    Exalting and debunking have to be done all the time, if not of personalities, definitely of their actions / behaviour. But why differentiate between the two? Greatness is as greatness does, and so with meanness too.

    Maybe all is ok with the world;because God is in heaven..Or rather, because I have freedom of speech and expression to denounce or praise as I will and when I will.

  2. Parvati11:16 AM


    In the fifth paragraph of my comment please replace "their being a" to "there being a" in 3 places..