Oscar Wilde once said – What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
People end up reminding me of that quote too often. On a dull cloudy Monday morning, during an official meeting, someone passed a blame. It was subtle. Well crafted. I snapped. It was one of those WTF moments. What allows people to be so shamelessly naked and still claim to be draped in Cashmere yarn? We had an internal gossip meeting later on and my British colleagues asked a simple question – Why? They were apparently in a shock. They told me that they have never done that. To err is human and why is it so hard to just say “I am sorry” instead of pointing fingers – they asked. I had no answer at that point of time, but it set me thinking.
Was it an Indian thing? The naked guy definitely was. Is this kind of a behaviour an outcome of the competitive and cut throat environment we are brought up in? Is it because we have always seen our elders keep their ego above right and wrong? Is it because our parents always teach us to be good than the rest of the herd and in the process turn us into evil money generating cynics? Is it “actually” an Indian thing or is there another layer below it?
Well, it could be. Consider my job. I few bad ratings and I could be easily thrown out. I just have to rub someone on the wrong side. The rating system is royally out of shape like Rani Mukherjee’s waistline. There won’t be any repercussions for the company because the laws which hold an employee to his job are as fragile and dumb as Paris Hilton. There won’t be any compensations. So, what do I do when I commit a mistake? I try to hide it. Plain and Simple. I have a car loan to pay. And sometime later on in time, a house loan too. I can’t afford to commit mistakes.
Have we just dissolved away the idea of attaching a moral and ethical value to our acts and simply end up putting a price tag on everything?
Its all right to put price tags on “things”, but now there are invisible price tags on the repercussions of our actions too?
Isn’t it a shame? We belong to a land where people stood by each other and fought the war of Independence, fought for what was morally right(Its another story that they killed each other after the war was won, but lets not get there).
AND, maybe its not an Indian thing. Its a human thing. Its just that it is we(in this case), who were caught with our pants down. What if I switch the working environments and the living conditions? Will my British colleagues end up in a whirlpool of moral upheaval and cynicism? More importantly, will my Indian colleagues shed the price tags from their acts and stop pointing fingers if they knew that things would be very stable? I am not sure if there are answers to these questions, because human nature is as unpredictable as the weather in Manchester.
Of-course, there is an “Utopian” scenario too. Think of a team where all the members are good friends. They all understand that they have to together make the project work and have a common goal. They like each others company and are ready to help. I have worked in such a team and believe me, it is at that point when cynicism is taken over by trust and responsibility of one’s own acts and the social conditions/wrong upbringing are thrown at the back-burner. But then, that’s rare.
Its human to point fingers. Nations have pointed fingers at other nations and completely destroyed them. We point fingers at God even when we slip on a banana peel. When Gollum pointed finger at Sam and said – “He took it!!”, he was not just influencing Frodo. He was creating a path to reach the ring. No matter how contrived and shrewd he might have looked at that point but he had his own justified-to-himself reasons. Everyone has.
But is there a way out? Or is it just that we are all Gollums in our own way?