BY SATYEN K. BORDOLOI
Statistics, they say, are like bikinis – they show and titillate, but refuse to reveal the vital. Well, here’s a case where that wisdom is reversed. And the case here is about normality.
Everybody wants to be normal, to blend in, to be like others. Nothing wrong in that after all even monkeys do that and we have the right to deny our evolution and try be like our ancestors. For wanting to be normal is just that, a delusional, paranoid perception of inadequacy that lends itself to behaviour that is self destructive (when you want to be like someone else, you lose what you truly are). Thus in just trying to be normal, you prove that you are abnormal. But we are not talking about that today. We’re talking about those that are ‘not’ normal.
Now let’s see, who’s normal. To do that we need to understand the word. As an adjective, normal is defined as “Conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected” while as a noun it is meant “The usual, average, or typical state or condition.” Thus it is obvious that It is given that the too old, too young, handicapped, poor and starving, the homosexual, the minority, the aborigines are naturally excluded in this ‘normal’ equation.
Keeping this in mind let us then try and find the normal in India using statistics.
These are some known statistics about India, and define people who are, well, not normal:
- Over 35% people chronically malnutritioned.
- Over 15% people are handicapped enough, physically and mentally, for their daily activities to be not ‘normal’.
- Over 10% people are supposed to be homosexual, either closeted or in the open.
- Nearly10% people in India are aborigines, tribals.
- Between 3 to 5% are chronically criminal.
- Over 20% population are too young, or too old.
- Over 30% people are minorities, or of lower castes (dalits) and such.
- … the list can go on for someone much more statistically inclined that I am.
Now if you look at the above and roughly try to eliminate the subsets that overlap in each of these sets, you’ll realize that the number of truly ‘normal’ people would be in single digit percentages. Someone still more statistically inclined would break that up and say that most of them also have some or the other form of minor abnormality (like many of them could be actors ;)) with many either being emotionally, mentally or psychologically abnormal despite symptoms otherwise.
The question thus emerges: WHO THE HELL IN THIS NATION IS NORMAL? The answer, perhaps is that no one is normal and that normality is nothing more than an illusion, perhaps even an utopia.
Another simple fact that thus naturally emerges, is that the ABNORMAL IS ACTUALLY NORMAL, and that perhaps it is absolutely abnormal, to be normal. And that perhaps the most abnormal thing in the world is the desire to be normal (all of us stand accused).
So some simple questions to ask is whether amidst the handicapped, the able bodied is abnormal. Among the malnutritioned the one who eats two meals a day is abnormal. Among the Hindus is a Muslim abnormal and amidst Muslims is a Hindu abnormal. Amidst the atheist is a religions man abnormal. Amidst the homosexual, is the heterosexual abnormal? Amidst a corrupt nation is honesty abnormality. And if it be so, why don’t the abnormal try to be normal, since normal is so important for all of us, the non-existent ideal we are taught to aspire to be?
So why punish someone for being ‘abnormal’ in the first place. Why punish a Muslim for living in a Hindu India by killing him en-masse every once in a while? Why punish the tribal by killing and raping him and taking away his home and his livelihood? Why punish the homosexual by telling him he is unnatural, abnormal? Why punish the handicapped by ensuring that even if he wants to live a self-reliant life, we refuse him that dignity by making our buildings, our shopping malls, and everything unfriendly and unwelcome to him/her?
The solution thus is perhaps to realize that everyone, despite his abnormality, has the right to live and exist with as much dignity. Even the most honestly deviant ones among us as long as that person does not directly or with direct indirectness cause or cause others to cause physical harm to those around. The rest is just a matter of adjustment for others. And do make the effort to adjust, knowing well that there are many others who adjust to your existence and to your ‘abnormality’.
Remember that no matter what you are going through, you can’t even remotely fantasize what being a mother with a disabled child going through the taunts of society for decades could be, or of a farming father who grows food for others but sees his own kids starving to death, or of a tribal child watching his parents shot by or raped for what he does not know, or of a soldier who fought valiantly in war to defend his nation but got his legs blown off and his life being made hell by society’s indifference for him, or the shame of a person who is attracted to his own sex but cannot discuss it with parents or friends for fear of being called ‘abnormal’ or a ‘freak’ etc.
Don’t merely ‘tolerate’ those that are different, for even being tolerant is but being violent, but try and understand them. Adjust to everyone. Include everyone possible and continue expanding your horizon of inclusion, for in true honestly, exclusion for any reason, is the greatest abnormality of them all.
(Satyen K. Bordoloi is a guest writer with Canary Trap. You can read his blog at 0-9 – A-Z. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)