On Non-Absoluteness, Hypocrisy and The Ideal

Sujoy Sur

The society has forever been, is, and forever will be impregnated with exceptions. There is no absoluteness, with the one exception being that of human will, thus, proving the inherent non-absoluteness of the principle itself. Civilisation has never been absolute in its mores, folkways, governance and logic. There have always been some exceptions to every societal norm, crime being the negative exception.

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A mean path is the best one, which should be pursued by one and all, but which having the characteristics of an Elysian ideal can seldom be achieved by an individual, let alone by a society. Anything which tips over to either side of this path has a good and bad side to it.

Life, and the world at large, can be best represented by the famous Chinese symbol of Yin-Yang. You cannot separate the white from the black, or vice-versa. If the white is the good, orderliness which a society represents or attempts to achieve and maintain, there will always be some black negativity which shall plague it. It is the rule of the non-absoluteness. Are you a pure human, free of all malice, discontent and greed? If not, then are you not a hypocrite to expect a society which is free of such negativities, for it is you and people similar to you who collectively constitute it. If an ocean drop is impure, and all drops have roughly the same characteristic, composition and origin, then how can the ocean be pure? It is nothing but stupidity to expect it to be having a pure nature. Even, let us for once, forego the principal of collectivity, then even if a single drop is impure, and all other drops in the ocean pure, then will not the presence of that one impure drop disallow the ocean to be absolutely pure, free of any discrepancies and homogeneity? Similarly, the presence of one person who has evil or malice in him prevents the society from attaining that Elysian utopia which the society strives towards through its laws and norms. And if you, yourself, on a an honest introspection believe that you have some malice or negativity inside of you then how can you expect the society to be indisputably good and pure? This is why Gandhi believed in and famously advocated the slogan, “Be the change you wish to see in the World”.

Similarly, it is not only futile but foolish to expect the society to be all good and free from crime. Crime is in the inherent nature of us humans, by virtue of the millennia of cultural indoctrination and reinforced impurity of thought and belief. There is no way that crime can be reduced to a nullity, for if it has to be achieved then the history and civilisation upon which we take such pride shall be required to be reduced to ashes, or a complete over-hauling of thought reconciled with action shall be needed.

Stop denouncing rapes and murders, by demanding extreme punishments for the people who commit them. We have tried such things even before men started to properly form words and write, and it cannot be expected to stop by words written in black and white in a system full of grey scales. What is the way out, then? As the rule of non-absoluteness would suggest, there is none.

The concept of justice advocated by Amartya Sen in his book ‘The Idea of Justice’ needs to be invoked here. He advocates, and rightly so, that true justice is nothing but a reduction of injustice. We cannot expect the world to have a positive scale and measure of justice, rather we should just make sure that the scale of injustice tends to zero, for injustice is inherent and omnipresent. Coupling this with Gandhian thought, it is you who has to start being just and fair, firstly to yourself and then to the society.

Misinterpret this not, for I don’t implore nor do I command you to do anything saintly or anarchic, all I seek is to stir introspection in you, to give you no false hopes and shatter not your dreams. Justice is the reduction of injustice just as cold is the absence of heat, darkness the absence of light, happiness the absence of pain and suffering. Our idea must be to accept non-absoluteness and our course must be directed towards achieving absoluteness for we may never reach the horizon but we ought to travel towards it.

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