To say we live in interesting times will not quite capture the paradigm shift in values that has occurred and continues to represent a departure from what used to be the norm. No deep research is needed to come up with receipts of a whole new world where nothing is sacred; where the lines between good and bad are microscopic. We are in an era of “do whatever makes you happy”, “put yourself first” and “secure the bag however you can”. We preach body positivity and reinforce the right of others to express themselves in the most unconventional ways even when we don’t understand it.
It’s safe to say we have evolved. We, who were once largely conservative and would buck at the mention of concepts such as cosmetic surgeries and body piercing are not just embracing it but also shutting down voices of caution.
I am not about to go into a moral debate of what constitutes right and wrong because these days, we seem to have two groups of people: those who have managed to hold on to their traditional views and for whom the level of liberalism unleashed in today’s world is a little too much. They exist in the 21st century but struggle to grasp new age conversations around feminism, patriarchy, LGBTQ rights, diversity, equity, and inclusion among other hot topics.
They are content with the old time ways of doing things. They can’t fathom what the noise is about equality and kick vehemently against anything that suggests the status quo should change.
The second group are the liberals: anything and everything goes for this category of people. They are unhinged, unfettered, willing to experiment, and they own their unorthodox posturing without regret. They are at home with nudity, dismantling patriarchy, single motherhood, surrogacy, lewd jokes, uncoventional parenting and other controversial notions. Everything that is cringeworthy to the conservatives is embraced by the liberals. They have no scruples and believe conventional people are either boring or pretentious.
The conventionals believe the liberals have sacrificed their moral compass on the altar of wokeness. They are wary of their untamed mentality and maverick ways.
Many times, the disagreements and fights that find their way to the streets of social media are a result of this clash in values. A party reasons a certain way and tries to foist their conviction on others. There’s never going to peace when this happens.
The good news is, it is possible to not be defined by either of these groups even though one may lean more towards one.
The issues that arise are more a function of intolerance than they are of divergent ideals.
“We do not believe the same things” should not be tantamount to “I think you are the devil’s spawn” or “You have refused to evolve, therefore, you aren’t fit to exist in the new world.”
I have learnt to acknowledge differing dispositions to life even when I don’t necessarily understand them let alone imbibe them. I was not always this way. I frowned at things that did not align with my life’s philosophy and would consider those who were at the other end of the spectrum to be bereft of home training or unreasonable rebels.
Over time, that changed because I grew to understand that not agreeing with a person’s outlook on life does not validate yours. It is a matter of varying opinions and choices. I can respect a person’s path without electing to embark on the journey with them or deriding them for their decision.
I may resolve never to pierce my nose, change my gender or bleach my skin, but I can accept the right of those who do so without being condescending, disrespectful or judgemental; especially when over time, we have seen that there’s hardly any correlation between a person’s looks and their character.
In the same way, concepts like virginity and reverence for elders may be unfashionable in these times, but the least we can do is to recognise their right to stick to their beliefs.
You may not participate or even believe in a particular road yet, concede that those who have chosen that route are human too and deserve to be left alone to thread their path.