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Why It’s Great To Have An Opinion, But Not When You’re Blindly Following The Herd

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In this fiercely opinionated world, not having an opinion is considered a crime unparalleled by any other on Earth. But how is it possible to maintain a consistent stance in a world full of paradoxes? Let alone the run-of-the-mine mortals among us, even those gifted with superior brains can’t do so. You don’t have to look too hard to believe that. Just pick any article that talks about the benefits of, say, a ‘healthy vegetarian diet’, beneficial both to our bodies and the environment, while warning of the hazardous environmental consequences from consuming meat products, and see how it convinces you to take its word as Gospel, backed by decades of research by the most eminent scientists, as it were.

Now don’t be too shocked when the next day you are informed that, lettuce is more than three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon.”

Not that I have anything against such dubious investigations. It’s part and parcel of an advancing, knowledge hungry society after all.

But what becomes problematic is when opinions, both in the personal as well as the social realm, start sounding ludicrous to everyone except the one holding them with such extreme fanatic fervour. Perhaps their lowly brains don’t understand the mechanisms of our society at large. What they think is not really what they think, but what they feel they should think. Or in other words, what the society wants them to think. Having an opinion then becomes not a matter of choice, but a matter of coercion, as what you think ( or like to think), becomes of paramount importance to others, if not to yourself. Sounds confusing, does it?

Take for example the recent debates over religious intolerance and the Dadri lynching doing the rounds in our country. It only takes one motor mouth to start off, either in action or through words, and the entire nation starts chanting the same tune. So if society thinks eating beef is bad, how can we not nod our heads in agreement and kill a Muslim man for allegedly storing it in his house; like a bunch of cowards committing a murder in the cover of darkness, dense enough to hide our deeds, but not our insecurities or, rather, inhumanity. And if the same cowardice leads to the nation standing up against such acts of intolerance, how can we not be the first to return our awards in protest, and talk about leaving the country?

This vicious chain of events escapes the eyes of all those who boast of having an ‘opinion’, and acting on it. Whether it’s right or wrong is totally irrelevant.

So where, and more importantly, when does all this stop? The answer is, nowhere. Because as long as we humans inhabit this world, there is no respite. We will never breathe freely, nor let anyone else do the same. And don’t worry about running out of topics, if you can’t find one, just create one.

In a world beset with opinions contradicting each other at every step, and clamouring to fight for attention, how do we know when to stop thinking?

Thomas Nagel very rightly said that if we tried to rely entirely on reason (or in our case the lack of it), and pressed it hard enough, our lives and beliefs would collapse. This is not to say that having an opinion is bad; just that an excess of it, like everything else, diminishes the very act of productive thinking. All your resources and energy are directed towards coming up with an individual opinion, forced or otherwise, with the aim of indulging in a battle of intellectual prowess with ten other nitwits who, including you, don’t know the first thing about having a discussion.

Face it, even as you’re reading this, your mind cannot stop working in ten different directions to either refute or concede my point. Merely throwing caution to the winds has become passe, it’s more like throwing missiles, rockets, bombs, (hell, whatever it is you can get hold of) disguised as explosive earth-shattering opinions that has become the mantra of today’s world.

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  1. Srinivas

    So how different from the million motor mouths that talked about “growing intolerance” and “Malda lynching” are you ? There were other examples to cite, from a counter point of view, I didn't see you exercise that?

    1. shasya goel

      You just proved the point I was trying to make. 🙂

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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