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I AM WHAT I AM WHAT I AM WHAT I Kritika Deval S.Y.B.M.M. Roll No.

: 4113 All the worlds a stage, and all the men and women merely players This oft repeated, rather trite sounding bit of wisdom, to me, is evocative of all that human life is about. The need for survival in organized society ordains that a person play various roles. Religion craves unquestioning belief. Filial love decrees wholehearted obedience. Education, career, relationships, social expectation and all the other inescapable obligations contribute further to shaping ones personality. How, then, does a person decide the extent to which a role takes over their personality or even, amongst all their roles, whether or not their personality exists? I will not call it character because character involves a persons innate perception of right or wrong that does not have much to do with the above factors. I mean, a person who has been told all their life that women ought to be treated with respect can still commit rape and make themselves believe that the woman asked for it Go figure. How do we differentiate roles? Everything in world is made up of opposites. One can identify white only after acquaintance with black. For anything to really be grasped, it must be juxtaposed with its exact opposite. Thus, the first and foremost role in human history and, according to me, the most cumbersome one of all, that of the man and the woman (as distinct from male and female), was born. It comes with all its expectations of macho-ness and, conversely, femininity. A woman is brainwashed into to believing that there really isnt any other way for her except to be dependent on men. Any woman showing masculine traits like independence and, maybe, a mind (sigh!) is quickly labelled as brazen. A man, on the other hand, is raised with the belief that because he is bigger and stronger, he is responsible for everything, and, conversely, can do anything they want. Since the beginning of time, any person daring to stray from the confines of these expectations has been subjected to ridicule, suspicion and outright expulsion from society. The next role arises in the form of filial love and obligation. Parents and immediate family give us our very first perceptions. They give us the basis for our first ideas, thoughts, beliefs, opinions etc.. They are also the first basis for juxtaposition with the outside world. All this, however, isnt necessarily a good thing, the reason being that parents generally seek to relive their youth and correct their mistakes through their children. They figure that since they were responsible for an individuals very existence, they have the right to mould him/her into whatever they want him/her to be. If they dont get their way, they dont suffer the smallest pangs of conscience before declaring their beloved offspring a snake they nestled in their bosom, a Judas, a backstabber (You get my drift)

The roles following these primary roles get more complex, as they are played simultaneously. Also they are dependent on more complex things like religion, education, social standing, political ethos etc.. Its the role that one plays based on the above grounds that give rise to faith, prejudice, personal habits and various other likes and dislikes. One of the biggest, most bewildering conflicts that a person faces is of how they can mould their religion, their faith in God or the Entity to their expectations of it instead of being mere puppets in the hands of their religious leaders. Faith is a very intimate concept. Prayer or communion with your higher self, and how you go about it, should not require the approval of a bunch of holier than thou, self-proclaimed overseers of channels to God. All religion arose out of a peoples need to believe that the entire world that they lived in was not a mere freak accident and that there was rhyme and reason to their existence. It made them feel less vulnerable, more in control. In addition, one needed a whipping boy to blame for their losses and somebody to thank in case of success. From this basic necessity, it went on to become a scale with which to gauge personal behaviour. This led to there being a few people who believed that they rated higher than the others did on this scale, giving them a better standing with God. They were made religious heads. From there on, melded with politics, it was a Domino effect leading to religion as it is today, with the blood of innocents on its hands, no more a sanctuary. Now, how someone can base their lifestyle, personality, their very thought processes on something this treacherous is entirely beyond me. Also, most religions have their roots in a time period when survival was the foremost requirement. Entire cultures and populations were built on these guidelines that gave them a foundation against which to base their behaviour in a bewildering world that they were just beginning to discover. It made sense for men to hunt and protect and for women to stay home and nurture for the obvious reasons of their respective physical attributes and the womans ability to bear children. Survival was difficult due to disease, harsh conditions and lack of hygiene. Therefore, prohibition on voluntary abortion made sense. However, these necessities were turned into religious duties to give the people further conviction that they were going about life in the right way. We do not require men to hunt or women to give birth anymore, nor do we require a religion that holds us back. One should always be free to agree or disagree to anything. If your religion dictates that women are unclean during their menstrual periods and you disagree, if your culture decrees that a person with a dark complexion is inferior and you differ, you ought to be able to say so and then act accordingly. A person is several things and one thing all at the same time. All your prejudices, habits, opinions, your very ideas are borrowed from your immediate environs. The only thing that is yours, which nobody can take away from you, is your sense of right and wrong, your freedom to choose, your freedom not to be judgemental You are what your choices make you.