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The Art of Adjusting

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in attempting to adapt the world to himself. All progress in the world, therefore, is dependent on the unreasonable man.

-G.B. Shaw

We Indians (yes, call me a racist here, but I still plod on) are not taught this when we are kids. We are told the story of the king.

Once there was a king who used to live a luxurious life – as is very expected of kings in stories. Once, he had to make a long journey – by foot or something? – and he realized that the hard roads were very uncomfortable. In his paranoia for luxury everywhere, he commanded his subjects to spread leather all over the roads, so his feet never hurt in walking on them. And then, one very smart subject – a clone of Birbal perhaps? – offered an instant solution – lets make a shoe of leather for the king, so wherever he went, he’d feel comfortable. 

Henceforth, we were taught that we aren’t supposed to go about changing the world. We ought to change ourselves. It is “easier to point out other’s faults than our own, but it’s still easier to rectify what’s within us, than what’s outside of us”. This is how we went. I was strongly reminded of this when I read this post by Espera – which talked of some stereotypical very shameless guy who actually went about telling that it’s the rape victims who ought to protect themselves – it is only their fault they get raped at all. 
Many of us Indians, anyways hold that opinion. Go ask my mother. Ask her what she  thought should be done to get rid of eve-teasers etc (I asked that because it was in context of the TV serial we were watching), and she’ll say herself – the girl should choose a better route, and dress more decently. How will it benefit us if we get on to improving the world?

For God’s sake, we need to learn to get rid of that mentality. We were also taught to be satisfied with what he had – and this lesson was pushed in way more often than – “We should want more and more out fo life – until we’ve conquered the world”.I don’t know why we are directed in such a way, but it is definitely very annoying. It is also very frustrating – to think that you live in such a country of passive people – people who are willing to accept a visibly imperfect society, in just such a way, that they manage. Is that what we were born for? To manage? To adjust? It is freaking unimaginable when you think strongly about this.

It is a remarkably brainless characteristic, and it explains a hell lot as to why people can lie back and say that stuff ain’t how it ought to be; and then do nothing at all about it. They’ll live. They are not exactly doing what they think they’d have liked to. But what the hell? They have a salary, a family – what more could they want? Really? You couldn’t want more, could you?
Well, I couldn’t want less. I’d rather die than live that life. I’d want to be a politician someday, and that’s after I’ve done a hell lot of that stuff I love to do. Why? Becasue I want to see change. And actually, I want to cause it. I want to be that one lame guy, totally unremarkable person with no business, or political background, who causes change – most importantly in the mentality of the country. I know that that sounds impossible, but I don’t think it very highly is. I will very soon rant on the absurd mentality of the Kapil Sibal removal of class X Board exams move too. I wish I could help change that. For the meantime –

Read A Mathematician’s Lament, by a certain mathematician called Paul Lockhart. You might get some insight into what direction of mentality change I want. And also why I’d rather prefer to be an education minister….


  • This ‘chalta hai’ attitude is very common among Indians. Whether something is wrong with the political system, education system, society at large…anything at all, the standard response is “You should change”, rather than trying to get things fixed.

  • Exactly my point. And more than anything. what I find most appalling is how it is clearly accepted into our lives – as I said, people who “grow old” and have a family to run, leave all initiative from life. Even if they ever wanted to do something in their lives, they entirely give it up – they say life doesn’t give then time to. It’s actually their own satisfising attitude that lets them live without it. This, in my view, also justifies the lack of the spirit of achievement, and efforts among us Indians. I hope this changes soon… 🙁

  • Devika

    True. But then again, isn’t this all easier said than done? Didn’t we all cry out in exasperation at the pub incident and subsequently the Kanpur College bakwaas? I mean frankly, all of this is quite a bit of a hopeless situation don’t you think? I mean, a case of karein bhi, to kya karein?

  • @Devika: A lot can be done and a lot was done about the Mangalore incident. The Pink Chaddi campaign got international attention and actually shamed the local government into making preventive arrests. It’s not about ‘kya karein’ but ‘kaise karein’.