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On Achieving Consensus: A Losing Struggle

Gaurav Dey

The inescapable thirst of the human mind to be understood and be accepted has ensnared the populace since, what can be said somewhat tritely, as times immemorial.

This phenomena, if one might so call it is not entirely novel. For most of our existence in this planet, since at least 300,000 years when we evolved in planes on the African Savannah till atleast 60,000 years ago when we migrated out in nuclear bands of hunter - gatherers and foragers, social cohesion and acceptance was a prerequisite for survival, much more so than the comparatively affluent societies which have flourished since then.
To be left behind was consigned to starvation and death. So a case can be made about the evolutionary benefits of conformity with tribes, cults, beliefs and arcane ideologies.

This ancient social structure also roughly anticipated, what we today know as the Barnum Effect, a psychological condition where people show a proclivity towards kindred spirits and groups, thereby providing humans with a sense of well being and emotional fortitude.

But,

The advent of The Industrial Revolution, that initiated roughly 150 years ago has vastly morphed our societies and at a pace that even Natural Selection cannot keep up.
So is conformity to other groups and ideologies still imperative to survival, and more importantly is important on moral grounds? I prefer to say Not.

It is today commonly known that it's not entirely uncommon or even entirely out of place for people on large numbers to be wrong about something in particular.
And yet, when men and women of reason speak against some prevalent vice they are veridically frowned upon. It becomes a source of repulsion. Of enmity. Of bigotry and castration on the side of the dissenter. A label which I believe takes a lot of courage and fortitude to even earn.

Such people are greeted with raises eyebrows, and often treated with brow beating to change their position, to extend the expression. The concerned individuals often through bouts of depression and isolation and at times, persecution by the more influential of our societies.
Such are the effects of such a social paradigm that today we do not due to wars, but from suicide. Isn't that morally outrageous? Such a wasteful process of human potential.
Must the voice of reason and honestly and rationality be vehemently suppressed and silenced just because few individuals do not adhere to it?

After all, as Sigmund Freud once reportedly said," The voice of Reason is Soft but it is Persistent."
On the contrary, we need rational discussions, debates and arguments and uphold them.
The totalitarian(a term coined by Victor Serge) impulse of the smashing of individualized and the suspension of morality must be abnegated and
subsequently expunged.


The way forward and something in my opinion is the foundation of human progress still is as was skepticism, free enquiry and speech and unfettered doubt and curiosity.
It's time for psychological bullying to stop and is replaced by acceptance and openness of discussion.
It also has to be duly noted that hedonism shouldn't be looked down.
Men and women, should be allowed with the opportunity to flourish and achieve everything that life has to offer and that should not be the concern of people. And why should it be if I'm not a detriment to someone else's style of living?

It is, I hope, a common understanding that one cannot please and appease everyone, and the process itself is to an extent self degrading. No matter how much one endeavours to be sweet and courteous, there will be those who will be quick on their feet to criticize and make you a poster boy of derision. If only they exercised some degree of introspection and acknowledge the fact that all of us have defects that need to be addressed.
It appears to be a losing struggle.

In case one does choose to be silent and as they say, "go with the flow" and put on a facade of conformity, will the person be spared from the pangs of conscience? Especially for not having followed one's own convictions in the face of an unjust or immoral situation. I think not. Again, a losing struggle on both ends.

My message and invitation to you dear reader, will be to join me in emancipating ourselves from being to conscious of other's opinions and follow our interests of both the fulfillment of ourselves and of our societies. Admittedly, it takes immense fortitude and strength to start this journey and is rife with obstacles.

However, in my closing I address the brilliant and educated 21st century men and women everywhere by saying that the process of such an emancipation will ensure that much more beauty, success and prosperity will come to you that way.


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