The Exemptions for Excuses

Miscellaneous Aug 1, 2017

The contemplations of an engineering student on the day-to-day ignorance and subtleties of our society which have managed to find acceptance as legitimate excuses  
By Mohith Kaameswaran (B.E Mechanical, 2014-2018)
Let us start by drawing reference to Al Pacino’s 1979 classic ‘…And Justice for All’. In this movie, Al Pacino portrays Arthur Kirkland, an American lawyer who is forced to represent a judge standing trial for assault, who he knows is guilty. Arthur finds himself in a dilemma on whether to strip off the judge’s non-existential honor which would cost him his professional career or do his duty by defending the judge and get on with it. He does the former. In the eyes of any good man, what he did was just without a question, but as a lawyer, he had failed his oath by breaching his client’s trust and confidentiality.
Many a time in our lives, we find ourselves asking ‘Is this right? Could we be wrong? Should laws which are deemed silly or unjust be followed?‘  A few contemplate over these questions, looking for justifiable answers. But the innumerable rest just choose to follow. A lot have faded with time. And one among them is the line between right and wrong.
With the advent of demonetization last November, the idea of corruption has been brought to limelight more often. Let’s talk more about black money. The modus operandi of the black money incursion happens through two common methods; either their income was through illegal sources or they understated their income. While the former is out rightly immoral, our people have always had some reservations about the latter. The common justification would be like ‘Why should I give a considerable portion of my hard earned money to the government?’ And the very few who think otherwise get a change in opinion as soon as they step inside a government office. One of the factors which is believed to be fostering such ideas is the various prevailing predispositions of our Indian communities. Because in a community where, falling in love is a sin, studying anything other than engineering or medicine is a compromise,  speaking good English is intelligence, surprisingly enough, evading tax is not much of a taboo.  To all those who think the taxation policy in this country is unfair, it should be worth noting that in a democracy like ours, one does not get to choose the laws they would like to follow. But one is empowered with the right to choose the leader they find worthy of following. And all one has to do is to ensure that his voice gets loud enough in 5 years.’
Now let’s steer the attention to the youth of this great nation, so that they don’t feel left out. Ruby Rai, the second most popular Rai in India, was the state topper in Bihar board exams in 2016. Well, state toppers are special, but what makes this one stand out? Well, apparently she topped the exams by writing the names of movies in one answer sheet and the name of the poet Tulsidas, more than a hundred times, in another sheet. It was revealed that her father bought her a state rank. But the bottom line (As per popular opinion) is that ‘She cheated in an exam‘. If cheating is what she stands guilty of, wouldn’t most of the journalists who covered the scam be guilty? Wouldn’t most students older than 12 be guilty? Wouldn’t you and I be guilty? And as Al Paccino would put it ‘I have been out of order, you probably would have been out of order and almost every fellow student I know is being out of order’. Yes, maybe we didn’t buy our marks, maybe we didn’t cheat our way to the very top, but in this case too, as per Miss. Ruby Rai’s statement ‘All she wanted was to pass’. On a fundamental level, it’s all the same thing.  So why are the day-to-day ‘mal’practices, which we indulge in, considered okay? It may be because it has become too common that it ain’t wrong anymore. It may be because it would make us fit in with the ‘cool’ kids. It may be because we would be disadvantaged if we were the only ones who didn’t get along with it. Or it may be plainly because we find it easier and convenient.

Our thoughts, like electricity, follow one of the fundamental laws of natural physics. They always tend to flow in the path of least resistance.

The folly in our sense of right and wrong doesn’t end there. We term people from northeast India as Chinese because most of us don’t see the difference. We seek satisfaction and reputation through bullying and trolling because people can be lame. We break all traffic rules because ‘It’s India!’. We drive rashly because we are late or because we own fast cars or rather simply because we can. We can be irresponsible, inconsiderate or inappropriate because apparently we must live life! We have justification for every single thing we do. After all, we live in a world where terrorism could be justified, in a country where corruption could be justified and in a state where questionable political leaders could be justified. And  by now, somewhere, some Indian, who is reading this would have found a way to pin all these incongruousness on our politicians and corrupt bureaucrats. In simple, we’ve made life an excuse to live the way we are living right now.
It’s not the very intent of the author to belittle anyone or to show anyone in bad light. The point to be taken is that ‘We are all not Arthur Kirkland trying to choose between morality and professional ethics. We are just an abominable group of people who fail to stand by righteousness and morality in a simple battle of right vs wrong not because we are forced to, as we tend to claim, but because we like to.
India is a country which makes an awful lot of movies (and a lot of awful movies). Most of these Indian movies have a chauvinistic hero with surreal strength, all ‘macho’ed up in tacky clothes who is portrayed throughout the movie with an unquestionable sense of justice and righteousness. What is more disappointing is that people trying to cook up the same aura of superiority and dominance by trying to imitate his style, his dressing, his physique and his mockery so that they too  can tower over everyone else like a typical Indian hero would. It’s not that everyone should stop trying to be hero. All we need to do now is to try to imitate his sense of justice and righteousness. For once, maybe, we could do things the less convenient way, the less common way – the more right way. And maybe, for once, we could stand up to the ways of this world, not because we want to be heroes, but because we try to be good people.
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S.MOHITH KAAMESWARAN (B.E Mechanical, 2014-2018) is just another lost youth looking for answers. He believes in evolution through expression and never turns his back to any kind of discussion.

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