Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Line Between Morality and Freedom - A Guide to the Confused

Morality is a dilemma for many - "What is right for me is not necessarily right for you. Am I right in forcing you to see things my way?"

Christopher Hitchens and Shashi Tharoor debate for over an hour in the above video about which is more important - "freedom of speech" or "not hurting others' sentiments".

The dilemma is that if we concede to Tharoor's argument and censor ourselves in whatever we say we will turn into a gun without bullet, and on the other hand if we follow what Hitchens says, to speak our mind out without worrying about the consequences, we will all turn into guns shooting each other.

After thinking about this issue for weeks, literally, I have come up with a middle ground.

First I'll explain why it is necessary.

We should do what we feel is right because otherwise we are doing it wrong. It is mean on our part to see "wrong" and not react. Do not conform to majority opinion, or minority opinion, or anyone's opinion because they could all be wrong. We do not know the absolute truth, or the absolute right. But what we do know is our "rights" and our "truths". Be courageous to put it forth.

Now I am sure some of the readers will take it down the slippery slope and say that this argument favours terrorism - what they feel is right, they do. But I have not finished my point. Keep reading.

But what if I am not sure what is right? In such a situation just listen to all sides and form an informed opinion which you are ready to change if proved wrong later. It is fine to change your opinion. You could support someone and later oppose them if it turned out you were wrong, or vice versa. You could support an ideology and later oppose it if that is better in the light of new knowledge.

Okay, I know what is "right". But am I right in forcing others into my "right"? They have their right to have their "right", right?
True that. This is where terrorists are wrong. While asserting their right they are taking away the others' right to live, learn, etc. We can do what we feel is right as long as we don't deny others their rights.

Is that the ground-breaking middle ground insight that I promised? No. We have all heard "Your freedom ends where my nose begins". But what we have not heard is how to swing our hands in such a way that it almost reaches the opponent's nose and scares them, but does not touch their nose and cause harm.

It is this line that we must aim at. A war in which both parties shoot, but not at each other. Where do they shoot then?

They shoot into the consciousness of the society. I can explain.

You know that ethyl alcohol is a harmful substance. When you see a lot of people drinking it, you feel like the government should ban it. But by banning drinking - even when a person is not a government servant, not responsible for anything, or is a dead waste in the world - you're essentially shooting at the alcoholics and denying their right to drink whatever poison they want to (Note: Of course there's a question about suicide being legal or not). There is an alternate way. Though it is more difficult and long, it puts you in a moral ease. And that way is to shoot your argument at the masses and convince them collectively that alcohol is a harmful substance. Like what Dr Dharav Shah does.

You know that Bollywood/Tollywood/Kollywood/Sandalwood movies are produced by perverts who want to make money by tickling our dicks. You know that actors and actresses are selling their bodies off under the pretext of "doing it for the script", "what the character demands", and you feel the society is being exploited. But you shall not ask the government to ban these movies. You shall not tear the posters and make filming impossible. What you can do without consciousness prick is criticize them vehemently, call them what they are - hypocrites, expose their lies, and raise the society's awareness about how they are being exploited.

Still not sure you are right enough to do such good things for the society? Think of this. Collectively our society thinks very less. Its opinions are heavily shaped by the mainstream media and easily biased by glamour and money.

It is a place which cannot understand sarcasm, takes words by the face value, and listens to celebrities (politicians and actors) - whatever shit they say.

It is a place where emotion rules over logic, and superfluous thoughts and ideas triumph over deep, far-sighted visions on any day.

And if you read so far be assured your "rights" and "wrongs" are better than those of 95% of this society.

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