On second thought
This conversation took place today between me and a colleague.
Person1: “I believe in God. You?”
Person2: “World peace.”
Person1: “So, we are both into things that don’t exist.”
The first impression of this exchange would point to the belief system in place; the urge to learn what one believes in one’s personal capacity. But on closer inspection, you’ll notice that it’s more about what the other doesn’t believe in. The question’s more about knowing where your doubts are hidden inside.
We like to believe not because we know it’s right but because it gives our otherwise hollow life some meaning. More often than not, our beliefs are a figment of somebody else’s imagination. This great guy said so, that great lady proved so, blah blah. But what about you? When will your beliefs get a chance to wake up? For instance, if i believe that the earth is flat, it doesn’t matter whether it’s round, spherical, elliptical or hyperbolic because i’ve already made my flat choice. Moreover, it doesn’t make an iota of difference to the planet what i believe in. It’ll continue to go dervish on the sun irrespective of the contours of my thoughts. That’s the power of a belief when it concerns elements that are bigger and much more powerful than us.
Problems arise when a belief is closer home and deals with societal issues.
You may believe whatever you please but sooner or later, your hypocrisy will lay bare in public if you don’t put your thought process to test. For example, if i believe that south Indians are naturally better than north Indians, then i’m basically heading towards Bigotsville. Without relevant data to support a hypothesis, all beliefs are just that: beliefs without wings. Just because we can think out loud doesn’t mean we are always right. Just because we are the only mammal who can make a conscious choice between breathing and speaking doesn’t mean we spew rubbish with impunity. On the contrary, we should take a step back and introspect everything we dip our nose in. Most of the time, we give away benefit of doubt to stuff we sympathize with. Sympathy is a nice reaction but is it always trustworthy? Shouldn’t there be a more scientific approach towards ourselves? Don’t we expect science to solve almost all our problems? If yes, why not solve our problems too?
In a world where science is too much to ask for, statistics should do the trick, right? Not really. The art of dropping numbers with no basis in reality has crossed all limits of decency. Earlier, you needed massive study to quote a percentage. Not anymore. You can just blurt “90% of the youth don’t care about this country” and get away with it too because nobody’s demanding you the empirical data required to make a gigantic statement like that. It’s the professional equivalent of waving a stethoscope without a physician’s pedigree or peeping into a stranger’s mouth without a dentist’s degree.
These are some of the several reasons why we should keep in check the fastest growing religion of our generation: confirmation bias. We are fast turning into beings who ignore everything that questions our beliefs and parade everything that validates our preconceived notions. If this is going to continue, then the status quo will ensure that the world remains how it is right now: fucked up beyond repair. Until and unless we harbour a turbulent desire to judge ourselves for who we think we are and others for who they genuinely are, our beliefs are bound to make a mockery out of us for being their spineless chauffeurs.