Discolored Discrepancy

The situations people are in prove very instrumental in framing opinions and judgments

Freeze FRAME

SYEDA AFSHANA

Certain discourses and debates are timeless. To be genuine and substantial, opinions and judgments about them need to be freed from trappings of timeliness. For time factor cannot mould the realities which take birth to remain unchanged and undaunted.
Of course, the situations people are in prove very instrumental in framing opinions and judgments. Most of the people have a tendency to form their viewpoints out of the situational soil. Their analysis is woven around the elements of that very situation and their understanding of its different units in order to examine and explain its nature.
This is quite contrary to Adele Clark’s famous concept of situational analysis, the new grounded theory approach that takes into account the postmodern turn and talks about mapping the real data (facts) to construct the situation of inquiry. In a way, it de-constructs the whole unit of reference and examines the processes dispassionately.
However, for many a people, de-constructing the situation and filtering the authentic opinion out, is very difficult. That’s why we live in a world of self-made biases and prejudices. Our perceptions are colored by the information of the state we are held up in, from time to time. It requires intellectual honesty and courage to delink ourselves from anything, personal or impersonal, which influences our point of view.  We cannot generalize the personal or personalize the general. Every dialogue has a domain, and every domain is characterized by a dilemma of discrepancy and consistency.
One of the reasons for getting meshed up is such a dilemma and feeling discomfort is what the psychologists’ term as the cognitive dissonance. As per them, “it can occur in many areas of life, but it is particularly evident in situations where an individual’s behavior conflicts with beliefs that are integral to his or her self-identity”.
So as the conflict bursts open between beliefs and behavior, the value judgments get flawed. We start seeing the world with discolored spectacles. We struggle to seek consistency between our perceptions and actions. And in this tussle, we become subjective in everything.
Perhaps, the whole world around is wrestling with this malady. Nations, communities, individuals—all are displaying the tarnished perceptions about various situations.
A case in point is the story of three different women treated differently by different powers.  A languishing neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, popularly known as ‘Prisoner 650’, who was not convicted of the prime accusation against her (being a ‘terrorist’), and instead was penalized for the lesser crime of shooting at US personnel in Afghanistan. For a nation like America, its belief in fair play and justice was subservient to its abuse of power. Except a few voices of outrage against her life imprisonment, the rest of the world could offer nothing to Aafia who continues to pine away in pain and humiliation. 
Here is the teenager girl who hogs the media since she was shot at in Pakistan and has been projected as a “symbol of resistance” against extremist forces and has received messages of support from across the globe with some suggesting a Nobel Peace Prize for her.  Malala Yousafzai is recuperating in Birmingham’s Hospital and Prez Pakistan is reportedly visiting United Kingdom to meet her only. For a nation like Pakistan, strewn by civil strife and reeling under international bashing for many reasons, Malala has to be its representative. The home- country of Aafia has to use varied benchmarks for a choice of people.
However, for a 21-year-old Shaheen Dhada, the ‘crime committed’ is very trifle. She and her friend were arrested for a Facebook post. Shaheen had questioned the shutdown of Mumbai when Shiv Sena president Bal Thackeray died. Her friend Renu had liked the comment. For a nation like India where belief in freedom of expression is touted so loudly, a single comment flurried the wrath. Shaheen and her family were forced to leave the place and move to Gujarat. This incident cannot be trivialized by linking it to “irresponsible facebooking” but has a deeper and insightful connotation. Though it received the public attention, but it has actually raised questions about selective freedom and erosion of democratic space in any country.

(The columnist teaches at Media Education Research Centre, MERC, University of Kashmir)

Lastupdate on : Sat, 8 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 8 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 9 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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