I recently had a discussion with someone who was very particular about what is right and what is wrong, what is morally correct, why certain rules can’t be broken, and why there are certain unchangeable facts that just can’t be refuted.
Now I do not quite agree to some of the assertions he made and was mulling over them all throughout the day. The day passed and night came. I went to sleep. In my dreams, God came to me and asked me what was troubling me.
I was about to tell him but remembered something I have long felt, “Why do you have to ask when you know everything?”
He gave me a short, wicked laugh, “I just like to chat with people sometimes. It gets very lonely up there you know.”
“Hmmm…”, I glanced at him suspiciously, “Tell me how do I decide what is right and what is wrong?”
He laughed again, I was feeling irritated, “You laugh at everything, just like those demons in Indian mythological soaps. I am wondering if you are related to them.”
“Ha ha, that is not true. Anyway, I will not answer your question directly. I will explain this with the story of your own ancient ancestors.”
“Can’t you be more direct and tell me right away?”, I said, feeling more and more irritated.
“I told you…. I like to talk!”, he shrugged and winked at me.
“Go to hell!”, I cried.
“Oh that would be tomorrow.”, he said.
I looked at him, puzzled.
“I have to make regular inspection of their premises you know. This guy devil is not very serious about his work.”, he explained, serious for the first time.
“Of course”, I said resignedly, “Those who laugh so much can’t be very serious.”
He started :
Hundreds of thousands of years ago, when the first Man was sitting alone, brooding in his cave over how to manage long term survival against all those saber toothed tigers, mammoths and other wild animals, he grew bored and decided to wander out. He never used to go very far from his cave, it was a familiar place and it made him feel secure and comfortable. But this particular day, he was bored out of his wits and said, ‘What the hell…! I am going to go out and do.. do.. ummm… I’ll call it exploring’.
So, for the first time, he left his cave, and his mountain, and went over to the next one. To his surprise, he saw a similar cave here! He looked inside and was scared the hell out when he saw someone just like him sitting inside. The other creature saw him too and was scared equally. They both jumped about from stone to stone and shrieked. When they grew tired, they realized all this hullabaloo was hurting them more than the other creature, who was equally afraid. They looked at each other. Our man raised his eyebrows once, as if asking, ‘What do we do next?’ The other nodded, as if agreeing they had better sit together and decide. Our man crept closer, still keeping a safe distance.
“What are you?”, he asked.
“I am Man.”, came the reply.
“That’s not possible! I am Man.”
They looked at each other thoughtfully. Both were a little dismayed for loosing the exclusivity but they strangely liked each other’s company. It was interesting and exciting to talk to another man.
They talked for long and were surprised by how much they had in common. There were also things that they did not do similarly. Our man liked running up and down hills, and swinging around on trees. The other liked scratching walls with stones and creating pictures, and speaking in a strange sort of way, an exercise he liked to call… singing.
They both realized there might be others like them and decided to go and look at other mountains and caves. They found a number of other humans.
All of these people liked each other’s company and decided to live together. This would give them more security and solve the problem of facing all the wild animals. It seemed perfect!
We are a social animal and are better off living together with each other.
But as time went on, they faced some problems too. Living together was very different from living alone. In some ways, it proved to be stressful. They had only a few bananas around and some apples. There would always be a fight for who would have the bananas.
If two men liked the same women and each wanted to have her all to himself, they would fight again. Now most women liked the security of having strong mates, but there were some problems with this setup. Fights meant some people would be wounded and couldn’t do hunting/gathering. And some of the women liked the weaker guys who were good at other things, like singing, reading the stars to predict future, counting apples and arriving at just the right number for everyone.
There was also the problem of how many women each man will have, since a lot of them wanted more than one.
A time came when everyone was fed up of the constant fights and they decided they will have to form some rules that everyone will abide by.
So they sat down to decide a set of rules. Problem was, they could not get to a consensus. Everyone wanted different rules! The only possible way they saw was to decide by voting.
And so the first set of rules were formed.
We have different tastes and needs. We need rules to live together in harmony.
It was decided that bananas would be rotated between everyone, so that everyone got their fair share. Most people agreed to it and the rule was accepted by majority voting.
Since the man-woman ratio was about 1:1, it was decided to let each man have only one woman, so that every man can have one.
Further, when two men liked the same woman, it would be the woman who will decide whom she married.
Things started running smoothly after the rules were formed. As they kept finding more and more people, their group became larger and more organized.
One peculiar thing happened at this time. A lot of women started getting fat. Everyone was perplexed.
And then one day something even more strange happened. One of the fat women complained of severe pain in her stomach. She felt awful. While her man was contemplating(of which he could not do much) what to do, he heard a strange sound of crying. When he looked down, his eyes widened with disbelief when he saw a mini-man lying on the ground! This mini-man was very weak. Both the man and the women felt very attached to the mini-man and everyone in the village liked him too. Soon, many more mini-men and mini-women were born. They were called… kids!
Since these kids were all weak, it was decided that women should stay in the village to look after them and the men will fetch the food. All went good for sometime. Then some unrest was felt among certain men, particularly the ones without a women. They said when the women were not working, why should they get the same amount of bananas as men.
A lot of people expressed surprise and anger that rules were being questioned. They said rules cannot be changed, they cannot be questioned. They are sacrosanct. Others argued that the situation has changed and the rules did not seem practical anymore. They said rules were formed to help them live together as a society. If they were not helping anymore, they were not serving their purpose and needed modification. People finally agreed to modification and the banana rule was changed so that working males got twice as many bananas.
There is nothing right or wrong about the rules. They are to help us live together as a society and have to be modified according to changing situations and times.
There were certain people around who came out to be wiser than others. They were good with all sorts of counting, observing and analyzing. Over time, they came to be respected for their wisdom.
The wise ones said that their understanding of things around was based on certain irrefutable points of knowledge. They called them ‘facts’. These were so obvious and basic that no one could refute them. For example, it was obvious that plants and trees came out of the Earth of their own.
But as time went on, some facts appeared dubious. People found that plants didn’t just grow off their own, they grew when seeds were dropped on the Earth and received water and sunlight.
Basic facts may be found false too, as our knowledge improves.
Some people liked hunting and gathering. They didn’t like the thinking, analyzing and observing of the wise ones. But they never questioned the wisdom of the wise ones since they always found ways to make everyone’s life better. So when the rules were first formed, they accepted them with all their heart, although they didn’t understand how they were beneficial. Sometimes their kids would ask – “Father why are the rules this way?”
“Hush! Don’t ask such questions!”, they would tell their kids, “These are our morals, handed down by Gods themselves! These are above questioning.”
Over time, they really started believing what they were telling the kids. These rules became unchangeable laws of morality for them. Whenever the wise ones found the need to modify a particular rule, these people would resist with all their might. They felt the wise ones were loosing it.
Even what we understand as morals, are open to analysis and modification. Although it hurts our idea of security, truth is, nothing is final.
And so it has been since then… the tussle continues. Changes are never easy to bring about. It is difficult to make people even question things, for they are too comfortable with them. But change is inevitable. If the wise ones are not able to bring it about, it still happens. Change is the only constant, nothing is unchangeable.
With that, God ended his narration and left me with the question I leave to you now – Which side of the tussle are you on?
PS : I suppose most(the wise ones!!!?) would understand that I never had such a dream. I just wanted to try a different style. I thought I should clarify