- This text is copyrighted to Chirag Mehta, 2003.
- For reproduction / copyright information contact me.
- I've tried my best to make sure that all the information herein is 100% accurate.
- But you can't sue me if there are some discrepancies.
- And remember... Plagiarism is uncool.
- I think very fast.
- And tonight I tried to write it down.
- 20 Jan. 2003
What is most interesting about this little piece of writing is the number of times I've written down a whole paragraph and deleted it. I've been trying to jot down my thoughts for over two hours now, and every time I end up with something mildly coherent, I go back and cut it out, because it just doesn't make up for 'interesting reading material.' Has this every happened to you? You felt this extreme urge to do something creative, but realized that since you really can't draw, paint, sing, play (musical instruments), or suck at writing poems, you just feel hopelessly lost, as if in a sink flushing out creativity? Right now, I want to express myself (don't ask me why) and finding no other way out, I decide to just write down my thoughts. Ha! Trust me it is not as easy as it sounds.
For most people, writing down what they think is a simple two step process: a) Think of something; b) Write it down. In my case, it's more of an infinite loop situation: a) Think of something; b) Write it dow... think of something else... go back to a) Think of something; b) Write it... think of something else again... go back to... you know where I'm getting at. Most people think linearly, that is their thought process can be broken down into a series of forward-moving steps, like a game of Snakes & Ladders. For some reason, the thought process in my head resembles more of a back-and-forth movement in six directions at the same time, like jumping marbles on a Chinese Checkers board. Take the last three lines above for instance; I just hate them now. It took me more than five minutes to think and write them down, and as I was thinking, they made perfect sense, but now I feel they are boring and don't really reflect what I wanted to say. I'm not even sure if everyone even knows the game of Snakes & Ladders! I just might decide to delete this whole paragraph later on. If I do, you wouldn't even know. How is that for interesting reading? Nah, I thought so.
I'm going to let my mind wander for a second now and come up with weird questions and try to answer them myself. So, first question:
Q) Why do we think?
A) For survival maybe. But I really don't need to think what I am thinking right now, to survive. I could just think of food and money, because that is all I need to think to survive. Then why do I think beyond? To present a Cartesian proof of my existence? That I am? I highly doubt it. I think we think because we can't help but think. The mind is constantly being pumped by blood and if it wants to live, it has to keep thinking. It could just be thinking about repairing the dents on the old car, or it could be planning the invasion of a foreign communist nation, but it keeps thinking 24/7. This brings me to an interesting musing:
Q) Do our thoughts imply our character?
A) I mean, if I get a good thought, does that mean I am a good person, and if I get a bad thought, does it prove that I have a bad heart? In other words, if the mind's job is to just think constantly, are we responsible for what our mind thinks? Note, the context here is what the mind thinks and NOT what the mind reasons to be good or bad. I feel that just because I get some thought in my brain, it doesn't necessarily mean that I am going to do it and hence it should not be a variable that affects how my character is judged. For instance, if Hitler had a mere thought that by providing food and clothing to the needy, he could bring peace to the world, but he never considered acting it out in real life, then it doesn't change my judgment of how horrible I think he was. So, just having a good or a bad thought, doesn't really say anything about you. So then what does say something about you? Your decisions? Actions? If so, then...
Q) How do we reason?
A) I mean, how do we measure up the rights and wrongs in our brains and come up with a choice? We all know nobody is right all the time, and in most cases, both the parties think they are right. Of course, all disputes can be explained by one simple word: Selfishness. Both parties want the most favorable options for themselves, and trying to please oneself is no crime. However, when there are no personal benefits or losses involved, how do we reason? I would personally gain nothing nor lose anything by reasoning that how Taliban treated their women was pathetic. But what made me come to this decision? More importantly, what made the Taliban come to that decision, that treating their female counterparts in such unfortunate ways, was perfectly acceptable? Surely there was some thought-process going on in their brains that marked all such activities against women as normal and good. I mean, according to the leaders of Taliban, what they were doing, was perfectly right. And that is true for almost all serious criminals also - they think they are right. So we come to another question:
Q) What if you think you are right, but others think you are not?
A) When I do something that I am cent-percent sure is correct and right, but nobody else thinks so, does that mean I am right or wrong? One on hand, I could be a patriotic revolutionary who might show the world the right way unlike anyone before myself, or on the other hand, I could be a delirious delinquent hell bent upon committing the gravest crime ever. But no matter what I am to the world, I am still 100% right according to myself. So, if I make a decision because I think I am correct, and you decide that I am not, what gives you, as a person (not as a law-enforcing authority) the right to judge me?
Q) If all judgments are personal opinions, how credible are our judgments?
A) Of course, I agree that blowing up a building is crime, and one has to be really messed up in the head to commit such a horrible act, but isn't this just a personal opinion? On an absolute scale, how can I say I am anymore holier-than-thou who just killed an innocent thousand? Note, both of us simply acted on what we thought, and as I said above, neither of us controls our thoughts, and even if we do control what we act on, why we act for or against a belief is not a judge of our true character. I mean, what is the guarantee that if I were placed in the place of a vicious criminal, I would act any different than a savage beast? After all, his mind was patterned to think that the wrong was right from the beginning.
We can ignore cases of revenge, anger, jealous etc. in this context. I am merely referring to 'sound' decisions that people make when they are in control of their minds. So if you make a decision willingly, is it really you that is making the decision? Or would anyone in your position unquestionably make the same choice? By anyone in your position, I mean someone else with the same body and mind as you. If I were a pale pimple-faced high-school nerd, teased constantly by my classmates throughout the course of my high-school education, would I commit the same Columbine-esque shootings or just suck it up and move on with life?
Thankfully, I never had to endure harsh ridicule by my peers when growing up, but it is not hard to picture myself among the people who never 'fit in.' Being somewhat smarter than the average kid makes you look at things differently than others. It often affects your choices and likes & dislikes. And that eventually shapes up your personality. Most people think that it is the physical appearance that defines a person's character, but as far as I know, it is the mind that writes the prescription for your identity. You can be tall, good-looking, charming, and extremely low in confidence, or you can be short, fat, and not-so-pretty, but have an enviable self-esteem and belief in yourself. Understandably, a lot of what makes up one's confidence is the circumstances that life presents and more or less, how one reacts to it. However...
Q) What defines how one reacts to something?
A) Two average eight-graders could both be going through the same family situations, and yet both react differently to it. That is, you could have a sick parent and so could a friend of yours. However, both of you will react differently and treat it differently. Maybe you are strong and very optimistic that your parent will be healthy soon, and may be your friend has lost all hope in life and is about to quit his job because of depression. What makes you, you, and him, him? Certainly, the mind.
Fortunately, you got a mind that made the seemingly right choices and decided that it was best for all to stay optimistic, and sadly your friend's mind decided to give up hope. We humans often blame the people who give up, for their lack of courage, but what would you have done if you had your friend's mind and his thought-process? As I write this, I realize that I have just admitted that we have no right to judge anyone else. I mean, in personal matters. In the eye of law, crimes are punishable and I wholeheartedly support it. But I think I don't really have the right to judge a friend of mine who decided to break up with his girlfriend because he met someone better. Sure, I would never do that personally, but that is when I take into account my current mind. But what would I do if I were indeed him? I'm afraid I can't guarantee.