Of Debates and Disagreements

I have been lucky enough to be brought up in a family where healthy debates, discussions and disagreements were an integral part of our younger years. My parents used to encourage us to ask more questions all the time .

I remember, on our day trips, Dad used to keep throwing general knowledge questions at us through the entire trip. Questions like, do you know which point is considered the centre of a town, why are trees planted along the roadside, what do those milestones mean, and so on and so forth. It served multiple purposes but two of the most important ones were –

  1. It built our curiosity and analytical thinking
  2. It made us more observant, developing the habit of being vigilant of our surroundings.

The analytical thinking promoted another habit – questioning everything. It has served me good but sometimes it becomes my Achilles heel. I do not possess the quality of being agreeable. I don’t trust people very quickly. It was furthered by me following advise from people and ending up with huge losses many times. So now, I do my own research about every little piece of detail and information.

Most times, people get furious when I question something that has been going on for years. If I ask why, they give me a questioning look as if I am the stupid one. This applies at office as well as in my personal life.

A simple thing as getting my parent’s passports. When we dint receive the passport even after a month, people started asking did we pay the 3000/- fees. I was surprised because I did not know about this fees. I started reading about the steps again to see if I missed some fine print in the process. I could not find any mention of any money to be paid anywhere. When I mentioned this, people gave me dumbfounded looks. Such has become the ubiquitous existence of bribery. But I refused to budge and kept calling the passport office about the status every week. Finally, in another month, the passports came, without us having to warm anyone’s palm. Just because something has been going on for years, doesnt mean it has to continue the same way. Question everything. You never know when you might become an agent of change.

In my observation, people confidently give you advise in a blink even about topics regarding which they might have minimal to no knowledge. And if you don’t do your homework, you end up loosing.

My Dad was having trouble getting his pension released from office. After about 6 months of wait, people told him he should file a case in court because as per law, his pension should be released immediately after retirement. My Dad told me this and I started to research about pension laws. Unsurprisingly, there was no such law! There are only guidelines for offices to release pensions as soon as possible. If the person feels he/she hasn’t received the due even after a considerably long wait and his money is being held without any reason, he/she can approach the court. But technically, no law has been broken if you havent received your funds yet. So don’t fire your guns from someone else’s shoulder.

Also, with the extensive reach of social media, misinformation and misguided data has become so prevalent that for the innocent public, it’s almost impossible to know right from wrong. The ‘fake news’ as we call it, is everywhere. And how would a person who just got to know that he/she can read news online, know which are those “fake” news channels or fabricated story promoters?

The only way to save yourself from spiralling downward through this malicious network of corrupt information era is to have more healthy debates. Analyse and discuss topics and issues within your network. Hear opposing views and propose your counter point. Separate the pros from the cons. Most importantly, do not circulate information which you yourself have not verified. Because there is no dearth of morons who believe every hateful propagandist story they see online rather than using their brains.

The more perspective you have, the more you will grow and the more maturity you will reflect. The world is not black and white. It’s foolish to assume that you can pick a side and spend your life there.

Change is the only constant. The only way you can keep yourself sane in this generation is to talk with people and engage in conversations, rather than sitting behind the veil of social media screens and indulge in silly agendas.

This attitude puts me in bad light more often than I would like, but I am happy to take that risk rather than make uninformed opinions about something that I have no first hand knowledge about.

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