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Monday, 21 December 2015

Form and content...

A friend of mine happens to be a doctor. Furthermore, he happens to be a surgeon. His field of specialization is considered to be a difficult one. Now many a times, it happened that we would go with him to a bar or a club, where we would meet new people, and in the course of introductions, when he would tell that he was a surgeon, 99% of the times the new acquaintances would not believe it. The most common reaction was: "You don't look like a ------- surgeon". 
It must had been frustrating for my friend, but even for me it always sounded so ridiculous. Apparently, the people we talked to looked sensible, and their demeanour and conversation proved that they were not stupid. But, why did they ask that stupid question? 
I am a person, who would not discount everything to lack of common sense or stupidity. So I kept on pondering about the reasons. And the more I pondered the more I realized that such was the common approach, which we took in relation to lot of things on daily basis. 
For example, we see a black man, and I mean a real jet-black person, and we readily think of that person as African. But, when this person says that he/she is Swedish, we have a hard time accepting it. That person would need to prove it. 
Similarly, when we see a man with a long beard and a round cap or a turban, we are ready to accept that person as a rigid Muslim, but when that person says that he was from Wisconsin and was a member of an Evangelist parish, we have our doubts. 
When we see a well-dressed person, with a nice hairdo and shining black shoes, we have a hard time believing that the person in question was an artist or a painter. There are so many other examples, of us falling into disbelief, once we hear the statement, contrary to our initial assessment.
Now, I know you would say that it is stereotypical behaviour, and I would agree with you, to a certain extent, but once we delve into things beyond physical appearances, and visual effects, we cannot blame the stereotypes only. 
For example, Christians wear ornamental crosses. Now that is not stereotypical. Tagging a person Christian, because he/she is sitting at a church, during a Sunday service, is stereotypical. But wearing a cross a person is announcing him/herself to be Christian.
I grew up in a society, although you might have your doubts about it, reading, what I write. However, fact of the matter is that I did grow-up in a very usually normal society. I loved to play games and sports, just like any normal kid, but I always noted a slight difference in my approach, towards the same things that we all did. For example, when I played cricket, the cost and make of the ball or the bat or the gloves, never meant anything for me. For me the important thing was the process of playing and I enjoyed the game, rather than the apparatus. For me the most important thing was playing cricket, not wearing the white trousers and white shirt or to wear the spikes. I would wear spikes, but I would not mandate my bowling with spikes. It was not important, how I looked; the most important thing was the understanding of the game. 
I never thought that I could become a great sportsman by bowling like some acclaimed bowler or looking like some great bowler. I always pondered, why I did not think, like everyone else did? Maybe I did not care about spikes, because I could not afford them? But that was not a valid argument, because, I had a different approach in things that did not even cost a penny. 
But, looking at my friend’s example, I understood something very crucial. The problem is that we are oriented towards forms, and we care the least about the content of things. 
Each, and everyone, of us follows or admires some kind of thought or ideology. But have we ever taken a minute out of our precious time to consider if we were admiring and appreciating the form of it or the content? 
Majority of the people, living today, have faith in one or the other religion. However, majority, and a large majority, of these believers in fact just follows and understands the form of the ideology, having no clue about the content. 
If that would not be the case, there would be no religious rituals. And, when I say ritual, I mean all these Friday prayers, Sabbaths, Sunday services, Thursday fasts, revolving around a tree, tying ribbons to banyan trees etc. etc. I also mean the mandatory character of Kippah, turban, green or white cap, wearing a cross, hijab, black dress for widows, white dress for widows etc. etc.
What do you call a priest standing with a bible in is hand and asking you if you take each other as husband and wife? I call it the form. The content of the marriage is an honest commitment, made with yourself and the partner. And the ever after, can be happy or unhappy. Marriage is an undertaking not the dinner and the cake, and the anniversary.
Anyway, I am not trying to define marriage here. I am just using it as metaphor. When we go to watch a movie, we seldom give any shit about the content. What we talk about, before and after the movie, is the form of it. 
To understand this, the easier way, let’s ask ourselves, how many times have we decided to watch a movie, because of the director, and on the contrary, how many times have we decided to watch a movie because of the cast? The answer would be astonishing, but simple. How many people remember the director of God Father 1? But I am sure that everybody remembers Marlon Brando.
Let me give you the example of a comparatively newer movie. We all remember The Matrix. This movie made a lot of impact, but unfortunately, that impact was also form dominated. Some people believed that it was all about the leather overcoat. Others, who considered themselves philosophical, got stuck with the red pill and the blue pill. For the vast majority, The Matrix was all about visual effects.
Once again, my purpose is not to define The God Father or The Matrix. 
I think that such following of form is pretty dangerous. For example, in the late 19th century, a newer ideology started making ground, and soon, in the beginning of the twentieth century, this ideology leapt into action, in at least one country of the world. If you have not guessed it yet, I am talking about Socialism/Communism. The essence or the content of Socialism/Communism was the freedom of the working classes, from the oppressive Capitalist system. Socialism, in its essence, gave you the freedom to do what you wanted to do for self-development, and as a result, when every individual develops the society develops (Please be sure that this is not the definition of Socialism/Communism). But what happened in reality?
In its application, the ideology of Socialism/Communism was just left out on the street. The only difference was that in Capitalism, you worked for a person or a group of people (company), but the Socialist system made you work for the state. The common man or the worker/peasant was still a slave. Now, it was the slavery of the state instead of personal slavery. 
To be a Socialist, you needed to have a party membership card. You had to accept Red as the colour of freedom and revolution. And for a brighter tomorrow, you had to do what the state asked you to do. Women had to toil in factories, just like men, because they were equals. You had to read Marx’s Capital, because that was the Socialist Bible. And, there were a lot of other things that you needed to do, to be a Socialist. But, the most important thing, which Socialism promised you, was taken out of the equation. You could not be free. 
So the point of the matter is that had the people understood the content of Socialism, they could be socialists, without the Communist Party’s membership card.
If you still don’t agree with me, look into the trend of tattoo making, which has been very popular in the Western countries, for the last few years. This tattooing is complimented by piercing.
Now, I don’t have anything for or against these activities, but I have yet failed to find even a single tattooed or pierced person, who could put some sense into it. Tattoos look good! Piercing is an expression! These are ways of self-expression! This allows you to be what you want to be! And I can spill loads of such bullshit, but the fact remains the fact. There is no content behind these Western piercings and tattoos. A person, who puts a giant ring in his/her earlobe, just like the representatives of some African tribe, does not even have the vaguest of ideas, why?
My friends, form is great, when it has some content!

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