What a deep thought to be placed at the pedestal of one’s life philosophy, something dense enough to make each one of us reflect on what we are doing right and where we may be going wrong. I remember penning this quote on the back of the main door of my hostel room, because I wanted to be constantly reminded of the fact that there is nothing called ‘enough’ in a law student’s mental dictionary and that growing up actually means ‘finding our quests’. But to be honest, I didn’t quite realise the deeper meaning of it until I started sieving the ingredients of knowledge from the chaft of a gigantic amount of information that the world provides us.
As a law student, it is absolutely pertinent to have an opinion, and opinions become absolutely necessary as a way of life, but we all tend to miss the few stages of opinion building and straight away jump to conclusions, because in this ever so fast world, nobody seems to have the time to follow protocols, and after all there is no iota of doubt that in today’s time protocols are only left to be followed exclusively by army men.
Opinions, what a fancy word, a word that can turn a talk into a full-fledged war of words if they belong to the opposite sides of the spectrum, and the same can increase the size of the people on your team, if they happen to belong to what you’ve been striving to prove. But are opinions really that important, is polarisation a boon or is it a simpered bane?
I always supported the former, and thought for the longest time that staunch opinions define your line of thought, ultimately defining who you are.
We all have opinions on women empowerment, bans, the government and its ideologies, International polity, basically about every and anything as remote as Timbakhtu, that exists on the surface of the Earth. But what we forget is, fighting for an ideology a singular one doesn’t signify awakening, and that too a knowledgeable one.
To me, it is surprising to realise that in one’s quest to attain knowledge one finds oneself drifting away from the rigidity of opinions. Knowledge has the power to melt your sturdy opinions and shows you the two sides of the same coin, which makes you realise how unaware you’ve been all this while. It coaxes you to see, how the world can be viewed from a plethora of prisms and still make absolute and complete sense and last but not the least it makes you realise that being opinionated makes you selfish to propagate your point of view till the time, it doesn’t triumphs over the other. I mention so because, from the little I have learnt about human behaviour that exists on Darwin’s Law of survival of the fittest and how we process information, I have realised it rather late that, opinions are generally blind to the flipside and it is believed that in this rat race of life, whosoever’s opinions overpowers that of the others, wins. We all saw a solid demonstration of the same, when both USA and USSR, even after two gory World Wars slipped into a Cold War, a war of ideologies that selfishly divided the world into two factions, an act which I feel deserves to be looked down upon as a naive display of political diplomacy. But unlike sole propagators of USA and USSR’s ideologies, to a prudent man who bases his beliefs on knowledge, both Socialism and Capitalism are appealing, because he’d deliberately notice the pro’s of both and would clearly discard the cons of the same, feeling at the end of the process, that after a neutral assessment of what was provided to him, he can make an informed choice of what is right and what could become right with plugging a few loopholes here and there. It is true that A foolish person is ‘quick’ to condemn what they do not understand and a wise person is ‘slow’ to condemn what they do understand
This goes on to say that if one finds oneself, having a strong opinion, a rather unshakable one, which one is sure that it is right, then I am afraid to mention that such a person seems to be masking one’s lack of knowledge with a cloak of a unilateral argument, that seems to glorify one’s side and one’s stance. But that’s where I say, we go wrong. the first step to process information is to make oneself abreast with both the sides, claims of the parties and their arguments for and against the issue, then one should possibly proceed to analyse what in the contentions of both the divisions is justified and appeals to a rational mind and what is rather only added to create a facade to strengthen one’s line of argument.
An Analytical approach is what makes a good lawyer or rather an informed and intelligent lawyer. The point is that, in our profession, there is nothing known as right or wrong, in fact we are infamous for converting black to white and vice versa.
So I refuse to believe that there is something that can be categorised under these two heads, it is all about perception. And because our profession demands us to pay closer detail to perception, we need to start exploring outside our fixated notions, to build perception. We should be in the position to see both the sides, neutrally to start with to cover both the aspect of the situation.
I’d like to quote, a saying that I stumbled upon recently which accentuates my claims of perception, “There is nothing in the world that is wrong, even a clock that doesn’t work shows the time accurately, twice a day.” Now that is something that made me realise how important it is to have the knowledge, of a particular subject to formulate a perception that would be a product of gathered knowledge and not the polarisation of opinions that believes in bashing the other side. In fact, it is worthy to note that with more and more knowledge, we start to calm down from an agitated one party mind to become a neutral unbiased personality, to the whole scenario.
So what am I advocating here via my article, the first very simple aspect is that it is of prime significance that we learn to listen to both the sides, which means one before hand needs to think what the other would bring to the table and then assess how their argument makes sense and how our assertion fits beautifully into the whole scenario. As law students we are taught to stick to our ground, no matter what and that is the trick of the trade, but as a human being, a larger member of the society acceptance of all kinds of ideas and thoughts, to formulate one’s own thoughts, is the key.
Imagine if the members of the ISIS or the Shiv Sena, or let’s say people involved in the Dadri lynching, Udhampur killings, Sirmaur Lyching etc. were knowledgeable? (Btw. By placing ISIS next to Shiv Sena next to each other, the author is not trying to equate the two but has mentioned them as separate isolated examples to expand the level of academic debate) now had they been knowledgeable they won’t have been polarised vis a vis being opinionated where the quest of proving their opinion as superior, they have been doing what we all have been seeing them doing.
Now I must mention that knowledge is not something that someone can impart us with, it is something we seek, and when we seek we realise there is so much in the world that is waiting to be grasped and there is so little, that we can understand and be rational about.
Hence, the only way to differentiate between a fool and a wise man is that the latter is always the one who feels he knows less even if every cell in his body appears to know way more than either of us collectively ever can.
The write-up was submitted by Kudrat Dutta Chaudhary.