Recent goings-on have been very divisive. Some have revealed deep fault lines in our society as seldom before. Many friends messaged me saying that I am wrong. “You are wrong” they say. Some concede that I am merely biased.
That is true. I am biased. There are certain unchangeable facts about me. I am male, middle aged and something I forgot (mean?- many seem to think so ;-)). I am from Kerala. I belong to the Syrian Christian or so-called Nasrani caste (A particular caste of Christians who have been historically there, from ancient times. ) there is no point in asking whether or how much belief I have in organised religion etc. Caste is something others ascribe to you, and hence, not changeable.
I am reasonably well-off and a professional. I am an Indian. The government takes almost thirty to forty percent of my earnings on various pretexts to maintain the society in which I live.
There are many more. The way, in which I was brought up, the people in my life, the choices I have made- my past- is unchangeable. It is done.
All this influences me greatly. The fact I am Male, means that while I may understand a woman’s perspective, my gut instincts are basically that of a man’s.
The fact that I am a south Indian and speak a language which is part of a language family that is almost exclusive to the south of India and the fact that my religion and caste of my birth are not of the majority of this country means that I will forever remain critical and suspicious of any narrative that aims to establish that my country is a place where only a particular uniform interpretation of a very diverse religion and culture is deemed to be the sole truth and basis for the Indian state. I agree-this is a type of intolerance.
The fact that I don’t starve and in this particular corner of the world, most don’t look down upon me due to my caste, makes me unable to see the full extent of the concerns of the very underprivileged in my society. I could never sympathise with hard core Marxist ideology.
All these and much more make me a biased person. But a systematic enquiry into truths has helped me overcome some of my biases.
The discourse on woman’s rights has made me less chauvinistic on that front. Science and history taught me that organised religion has contradictions that cannot be resolved. I remain a theist and I pray- but that is actually just a bias. I rationalise that one. But ultimately, that is what it is.
I had no sympathy with homosexuals. But a systematic study of trans-genders and homosexuals taught me that the vast majority cannot help it. And that I had no right to be judgemental.
An analysis of my surrounding society have shown me that most of my comfortable life and achievements are a product of plain luck- an accident of my birth and bringing up. Others need your help. This has made me move from centre right to centre left.
I can go on and on. Crux is that despite efforts to reduce bias, they remain. Most of my core attitude to any issue, is shaped by two things:
My inherent gut feeling, or bias.
The truths and facts involved.
But so is everyone else’s. But the contribution of each varies.
I would like to think that I am reasonably objective and look at the facts more. But that is just a self assessment, which is something that is maximally prone to bias. Everyone thinks that. I may just be rationalising my gut.
So, should we just shut up? I don’t think so. Don’t different voices help to tease the truth out into the open and force us to confront our deepest and most shameful biases? That will help us embrace the truths, along with our biases.
All men are biased. Some are more biased than others. (Damn. It should have been people, not men. I have become a chauvinist pig- again.)