What Is Normal?

Why do we end up defining normality – always?!

I was just wondering if we have been taught to follow what is normal. I wonder who sets the rules. Who tells us what is good/ bad, correct/ incorrect, normal/ abnormal?

The problem is, at that age when we are taught all this, we don’t even have the option of raising a doubt. Either we are too afraid or we don’t even know what it means to raise our voice. We are just taught to impress others by doing the same things that everyone “normally” does. Anything contradictory will mean

  1. You are a revolutionist – a pain in the ass for our parents.
  2. You are a born idiot – looked down like a worm by other kids.

And fear is instilled to us, even as they teach us not to be afraid of anything. Our creativity is not encouraged if it is contrary to the “general human” norms. Lets take a small example, shall we:

Teacher: So Ashok, what color do you see (pointing to a painting of green trees)?
Ashok (thinking): Color heh?! What do you mean, why are you trying to instill your thoughts into mine? Why should I see the same things as you do?
A: … white!
T: White! My goodness, are you color blind or something?! Answer again (raising the stick in her hand).
A: Hmmm… errr… huh… I see white cauliflowers.
T: (Whack) (thinking) How dumb can children get these days! 5 year old, not even able to recognize colors and trees. What is this world coming to?
T: Anu, tell me what do you see?
Anu: (eying Ashok with pity) Green Trees…
T: (Sigh! Eying the teary Ashok with contempt) Thank god at least one in the class got it right.
A: (Thinking/Sobbing) What was wrong in what I said? Do I have to see the same things as everyone? I guess, that would be better than getting a beating everyday.

I guess more or less the same happens to us all. Just think about it.

But we can’t break the shackles to which we are bound. No, not even me can think of letting a kid answer like that. It’s just that – it’s the way of the world. If we do let it go at this stage what will become of the “general” human race.

We need a line to be drawn to decide what is sane/ insane for we have never been taught to analyse any situation without establishing a normalcy. Unfortunately, it is we who have to decide that thin line.

The most beautiful thing about humans is we managed to culture ourself. The worst thing is we can never do it alone.

Follow the line. At least then, people will consider us sane enough!

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Author: Rajesh Narayanan

A small speck of dust in the ever expanding ether

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