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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Were a Judgmental Bunch and Maybe no changing that

Movies come, movies go. Theater comes, theater goes, art comes and it goes, yet the message that the various arts including the performing arts leave for us fail to become a part of our thought process. Most film makers and theatrical companies try their very best to instill a positive and sound message to their audiences, usually communicating good values and ideas to us. Their purpose of communicating such values is more than  just entertaining us, they are also communicating such values to reach out to us on a very human level and inspire a change of sorts in our behavior. For so many of us, we fail to understand or embrace what is being communicated to us, and we walk out of the cinema or theater unaffected, returning to life as if it were business as usual.
There are many short comings of Pakistani society and to some extent South Asians in general with respect to our values and our code of behavior that needs some work and our resistance to over come some of our short shortsightedness needs to be worked on. One such characteristic of our behavior is our ability to be naturally judgmental towards others around us. Not something to be proud off, but it is one of those things that has become deeply a part of our society that we either take its existence for granted or completely overlook it as if it is the most normal natural thing in the world.

By being judgmental, we are forming or creating an opinion about another person based on usually an insignificant trait or characteristic of their behavior, personality or who they generally are. At times people who are judgmental look for excuses to dislike, discriminate or marginalize another person without knowing them or trying to know them on a personal or social level. We are often very rigid about how a lot of us see the world, we see it from our spectrum, our rigid criteria of what is or what is not acceptable, and on occasions even mild deviations or variations are unacceptable to us. In a n nutshell, we are not very tolerant of social diversity, instead of looking for reasons to find good in some one, we look for the smallest of excuses to dislike some one.

This issue has often been touched upon in theater and cinema. Anwar Maqsood tried to highlight this point in this theatrical debut Pawnay 14 August also where it was briefly highlighted that our judgmental attitude towards one another prevents us from coming together as one nation, as Pakistanis. Even more recently this was touched upon in a Bollywood film from across the border 'English Vinglish' marking the return of the screen legend Sri Devi. In the film, her family is shown as being judgmental towards her and taking her for granted because of her inability to speak English. Her husband takes her for granted, her daughter mocks her, making her feel as if she is not respected. She manages to surprise everyone by secretly taking English classes on a trip to America and giving a speech at her niece's wedding.

I along with countless other bloggers and writers can say this again and again that there are severe demerits of being judgmental, even performing arts will try and communicate this message for years and years, but maybe all this effort will go in vain. In order to beat judgmental attitudes, it is important for their to exist a sense of empathy among people for other human beings, to feel the pinch of what it is like when others are judgmental towards you. But alas one can't teach another to feel empathy, it is after all a natural process.

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