In a world full of illusions, myths, constructed truths, and false memories, what is real and what is not, varies. The very idea of reality has become fluid. This fluidity means that realities can differ in intensity or depend on the subject in consideration. But does that mean that what is real is not absolute, but relative? Does that also mean that for every real, there is a counter-reality which also exists as a parallel?
For a city girl, being afraid of walking on the road alone after dark is a reality, at the same time girls being afraid of walking in the dark alone, feeds the idea into some people’s mind that it is how girls are supposed to feel. Both realities exist and draw on each other.
Since different individuals live with different realities that may be shared sometimes, similar, congruent or even polar opposites, all prevail. For a terminal patient left with a few days to live, the world may look like the most beautiful, pleasant place and the thought of having to leave it would leave them depressed or sad, ironic isn’t it?
Different realities may also exist for the same individual at the same time. Without even consciously acknowledging this fact, we live with parallel truths and through constant negotiations between these possibly binary opposites or somewhat similar truths, we attempt to construct what is real for us.
If black, white and grey – all exist together then why try and maintain a system of binaries? Why present a facade of objectivity when our every hour, minute and second is subjective and unique.
The concepts of uniformity, law, right and wrong all render futile in such a scenario. This is where logic and rationality make room. No matter how fluid reality or truth is, when one side or the other is assessed in terms of rationality, logic wins the battle.
However, there are chances that people apply rationale and logic through clouded visions of what their own reality is; this is what can be objectively called wrong. This is precisely why spaces have been created in the public discourse to dissent, debate, support, oppose, protest and argue.
In India, we presently are in a position where such spaces are under constant threat. State machinery and other authorities are incessantly trying to curb such spaces. It is not just an issue of extremism v/s the spirit of democratic deliberation. It is deeply problematic because one of the actors trying to suppress our free space is the state.
When an institution designed to protect people, harness their rights and maintain order in the society becomes a threat to the very values it is supposed to uphold, the potential existence of a dark, bleak and one-dimensional society becomes highly likely.