By Dhruv Arora:
“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”
â€• Oscar Wilde
A few days ago, I was talking to a friend about how I find it extremely difficult to find unbiased information about GM (Genetically Modified) Crops, in order for me to form an opinion about the advantages as well as the problems that GM crops present. Over the course of the next hour, however, the conversation drifted into something far from the matter at hand, after my friend asked me why I am conflicted about my stance on GM crops if I associate myself with the Political Left. This really hit home for me, because it talks a lot about the way things are functioning today.
More often than not, because of some identities that I am seen to be a part of, my opinions may not actually come from me at all. In fact, a major chunk of my stances on various issues that matter to me have a lot to do with what other people assume my identity should carry, and breaking free of these stereotypes is no easy task. More often than not, my quest for knowledge about an issue may also be tainted by the lens I use to look at it, or I am told to look through. Are my opinions really mine if they never came from me in the first place?
One does not have to travel far to identify camp politics in play, either. Looking around, it is quite easy to segregate and find the commonalities between people’s stances and the political camps they represent. If you look at the recent uproar (against/for) Israel with respect to the Gaza conflict, somewhere down the line two very clear distinctions come up. Somehow, and this may not make any sense at all, most of the right wing camp was in support of Israel attacking (or defending themselves against, depending on where you belong) Gaza, whereas the Indian Left was strongly in support of the citizens of Gaza and wanted to highlight what exactly the state of affairs was for the people living there. Now, on the outset, this conflict may or may not have a direct correlation with which party you voted for in the Lok Sabha elections, and yet, the patterns do emerge.
Many describe this as being a result of the fundamental differences between what matters to people a fact which also plays a major role in deciding the political alignment of people, or the fact that not many prefer reading or learning about things that they can just hear about. This does make a lot of sense and also falls in line with the extremely short attention span that seems to be plaguing our generation; however, it begs the question: should my political ideology determine my stance on issues, or should it be the other way around?
Human beings are driven by curiosity and thirst for knowledge, and it is deeply saddening to me that a lot of us are not willing to spend enough time learning about an issue before forming an opinion about it based on what is told to them by other people. This gives the mainstream media a lot of unwarranted power over young minds, and serves as a major hindrance in the way of growth and mental development. Develop your stance on things based on what you know, and if you don’t know enough, read and listen. Don’t let your “political camp” develop your opinion for you, because if your opinion has been given to you, it was never yours to begin with.