Art of Defining Ourselves

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Art of Defining Ourselves - Blog Archive of Darpan Foundation

Functional definitions are necessary. However, the significance and urgency of definitions vary from field to field.

For humanity and society to function coherently, smoothly and harmoniously. functional definitions are necessary. In the absence of clear functional definitions, chances of our experiencing incoherence in our conscience as individuals and undergoing disturbance and disharmony at various social levels become more probable. However, the importance and urgency of definitions vary from field to field. Precisely, in few fields the need to keep defining everything may be very urgent but in certain others fields the urgency to define may not be similarly intense and urgent, For example, in the field of medicine updating definitions is very important as this field directly and immediately impacts human well being.

Imagine, if a procedure in cardiac surgery is not defined properly in the light of latest discoveries and inventions, the impact of the absence of definition may be fatal. Or imagine, when people belonging to common national or global identity find themselves divided as groups on the basis of ethnicities, mores, norms and perceptions. In the absence of clear definitions of mores, norms and perceptions, how can the importance of priority of one mode of behaviour can be emphasised over the other so that differences could be quelled (as mores, norms and perceptions translates directly in our personal and interpersonal behaviour)?

Many such examples can be given wherein situations like this may arise where competing perceptions of rights of people might clash. Such situations are solved only on the basis of clearly defined definitions Where conflicting matters concerning sub- identities are solved amicably without weakening the strength. intensity and spirit of the unity, such societies, nations (or the world if I may say so) alone may be termed as democratically evolved entities.

It is only through definitions that clarity about any subject and object becomes describable and documentable. Once documented, it becomes understandable to the ones who are studying it and shareable with all other stakeholders as well.

Suppose, I ask you a question that who all are the stakeholders in defining ourselves (we/us)? What would be your answer?

The answer would vary according to the field. For example, if the field to define ourselves is that of the nation then ‘the ones who are citizens of nation and. consider obeying constitutional provisions enshrined in the Constitution as their first mutually shared priority would constitute stakeholders in defining ourselves.

If the field is cultural identity, then you would like to go as far back in time (say. history) as your consciousness wills to go and it is by accommodating all the components to the best of your knowledge that we will name the stakeholders. Therefore, in the latter case, constituents will vary so much so that many definitions would be needed to define the clear field constituting ourselves. For instance, if one individual’s cultural sensibility identifies oneself extending to the medieval period alone and not beyond, while another individual identifies oneself to the ancient period including all other (previous/latter) phases too then in order to include both type of individuals we will need very different definitions to define the field from which constituents to define ourselves could be taken.

The common minimum denominator and maximum imaginable denominator are apt in defining ourselves (ie. we). Therefore, if the definition of us/we is not based on priorities then internalising it in behaviour will be difficult. But, once few basics are prioritised then it becomes easier to fathom the rest and discover the rest.

Continuously updating definitions becomes an elixir to cure differences. Army people wearing camouflaging jungle dress is one such example where you justify that in order to survive you have to camouflage your identity. Else, the enemy takes the advantage of your openness.

But how do you do such a thing when you are very much within the in-group where there is no enmity. only the bond that defines ‘us’ is not strong and. priorities aren’t clear? For instance when we glance through world history we find many such instances where religious identities clashed with national identities in the conscience and consciousness of the people.

People stayed confused and divided within and suffered a lot. Many innocent lives were lost in the violence how else would you see various partitions” which world witnessed on the basis of religion? Had there been clear definitions taught to all concerned through the school curriculum very much as part of the universal educational syllabus that how to see religious identity and, how to see national and cultural identity and, which one to prioritise over the other then definitely history wouldn’t have been as bloodied as it is. Therefore, our educational curriculum. media and public discourses must keep updating definitions across various fields of knowledge in the light of new discoveries, insights, revelations and inventions Culturally we consider ourselves eternally evolving beings who accept change which keep occurring in us and around us incessantly. When this opinion/trusting the world is building up and many across the globe are acknowledging it including one of the warring party namely Ukraine that India alone has the judiciousness. strength and worthiness of mediating cultural national conflicts between nations then we must become more humble in acknowledging the sweetness and strength of the stream of eternal Indic wisdom perennially running through cultural continuity since eons.