To this point, I feel we have been brought up amidst a bunch of lies. We are told that being different is not an asset but indeed a liability. This refers to many cases: Abnormality in the way one looks, one behaves, one thinks, ones choice of living, etc. Thankfully, a few of us now consider those who do not do the normal thinking as ‘out-of-box’ thinking. Saying so, we are surprisingly still expected to do something outside the routine, stand out from the crowd while simultaneously toeing the lines of stereotypes.
Imagine a situation where we see physically disabled persons. The first thing which grabs our attention is the disability. We soon forget that apart from that, these people are just like us; they have friends, families, hang out with them, love ice creams, pets and every other single thing. We either sympathize with their condition or cringe our noses depending on how less unpleasing their disability is to our eyes. And this is totally uncool, isn’t it?
A person who wants to give up his professional career to attend his calling is called by several names: weirdo, ‘that-out-of-mind’ guy, poor fella, monk, fakir (depending on what his calling is). Remember ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’? So why is such a fuss being made about doing unconventional things? Because your current job can pay your bills, you can get insured, can attract a suitable groom/bride? That your calling does none of the above, huh? Remember what everyone wish when they are on their death-beds- that they should have listened to their conscience, risked, and not cared what people around them had thought about their actions!
And yes, breaking the gender stereotypes is my favourite, ‘in-you-face’ (no pun intended), kind of abnormality (pun intended). I appreciate it when a girl rides a bike, anything from a Scooty to a Bullet, and better when a guy pillion rides! It’s like a double shot of breaking stereotypes. After all, we all are hardwired to think that macho guys ride Bullets and their girls go gaga over this! Unfortunately, there are only a few girls in our society who can bravely stride steps along with boys, their heads held high, not feeling scared or embarrassed of being judged as ‘loose’ girls for walking with guys; of all those strange, nasty and menacing looks they get. Trust me, more people are only curious to see who the girl is. In case if she is one of his/her acquaintances, that’s enough to spread a wild fire of rumours in the neighbourhood and consequently, fear in her.
Having a squint, being an albino, following a guru, becoming a nun, working for the needy despite coming from a ‘high-class’, having good education and job, a girl and a boy being best friends maintaining a platonic relationship, getting tattoos or piercing rings, accepting and supporting the LGBT community (As if doing so will make us one amongst them. Even then that shouldn’t be a problem, should it?). I can go on and on about the perceived abnormalities according to our society. It never ceases to astonish and appal us simultaneously. But why are we taught to play it safe? Why are we asked to stick to the norms and stereotypes? Does doing so will make us an anti-social element? Think think!
So next time when you see a kid or your younger cousin, or whoever you think you have liberty to tell them good things, perceives something as abnormal and starts getting judgemental do the following: Explain that abnormality is relative and not absolute; that he/she might be perceived abnormal in a vice versa case by the victimized person. Explain how things are not always black and white, that at times grey exists and that’s not bad. But for all these to take place, we should first unlearn and bid goodbye to our old way of thinking and learn, give way to new thoughts. Empathy is such a strong and powerful word. Being empathetic is surely a better way of living that makes our world more beautiful and our lives more essence filled.