People are larger than life or smaller depending upon the pair of eyes that is observing them and on the mind that analyzes these sights. We, based on our observations create an image of a person to be extraordinary and then when that image behaves in a manner unacceptable or our perception of perfection, we tag him/her with names. Most often it is people, their judgments and their rules that make someone popular or infamous. A very good example in front of us is Swami Nitayananda who has recently been on headlines for all the so called wrong reasons. His doings are debatable and hence I do not wish to bring that up but what strikes to me is how people change their perspective towards a person. He is the same today as he was yesterday but all that has changed is how we look at him based on our judging capabilities, our strong opinions of how others should behave and our perception of perfection that we want to see in others.
This could happen to someone famous or to people around us. We tend to see someone as an astonishing person and we create image of him/her which is larger than life and then as days pass we expect the person to behave in the way we have perceived of him/her; when they do not, the image is shattered and behind it is a very common man.
I can’t agree with Virginia Woolf any less when she writes- “The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.” Every moment as one is observing us, we become a prisoner of an opinion. I am presently reading a lot of stories on common people who have done extraordinary things, “India today” list 20 great innovations and “The Hindu” frequently records stories of farmers who have made small innovations in their field to ease their burden at a nominal price. And in many of these stories there was one common sentence everywhere – “People always laughed at him, calling him insane.” And we still quote examples of a Galileo or a Socrates.
During late 2007, I was very fond of Script writing and hence joined a script writing workshop. Everything went well until the instructor shared one thought – Observe people with a critical perspective; ask questions – What are they thinking? Did they have illegal relationship? Only then can you come up with a good character definition and a story line. When I came back home, I hated that learning. We all do it, we question others actions and credibility and this statement made me conscious of that truth. It had made me aware of the fact that we humans judge others so easily. I gave up script writing soon after the course and it is taking me a lot of time to unlearn this teaching; teaching not just from the course but from childhood, where we are compared with siblings, neighbours, classmates through competitions, marks we score in exam, games we play, friends we make etc. I would love to observe people but I don’t want to judge them, I don’t want to be skeptical.
I recently read an interview of director Mahesh Manjarekar where he says – “I rather be a farmer growing tomatoes because he shall have a satisfaction of having created something without being judged.” Great thought but I really doubt that. We perhaps cannot escape the judgments but can only ignore them; earlier the better.