The Soothsayer’s Speech

“By the end of this article, you will restore your faith in humanity and certainly feel a lot better.”

– Kartik Narula

Once my dad said-“You must step into the man’s shoes and walk at least five miles before judging him”.

We live in a world which seems to be filled with debauchery, nepotism and malfeasance all over. Where murders and rapes adorn the first few pages the of newspaper every day, where the closest ones stab you in the back, there seems to be no one in this world whom you can trust and count upon.

Relax, this is just an exaggerated picture of the world. It is not so cruel, is it? We are all mockingbirds, sweet and innocent in our own little ways. Given a level playing field, all of us will overwhelmingly choose trust and cooperation.

By the end of this article, you will restore your faith in humanity and certainly feel a lot better.

The first line of this article has very profound implications. The criminal who commits murder,  the terrorist who is involved in brutal bloodshed or even the girlfriend that betrays you does so because he or she is prompted or conditioned by something very implicit.

For a while, let’s travel back to old times, say the Gupta or Mauryan empires. A story, which is perhaps apocryphal, goes on that people in those times did not even lock their doors at night. Why would they? When everyone has enough resources to live peaceful lives, why would they interfere in each other’s businesses? As society progressed, resources became scarce, gaps between the ‘have’ and ‘have nots’ widened and it became tougher to feed oneself and one’s family. Theft and other forms of crime were left as the last resort. Think of a policeman (or any other government official for that matter) who accepts bribes. He indulges in these illegal ways of money-making because there is absolutely no way for him to survive in a reasonable way with the salary that government provides him. It is easy to complain but first please step into his shoes and THINK!

Let’s take another example. Suppose you are born in a sparse and atrocious environment in the Taliban region. The only way you can feed yourself is by joining their ranks, being part of an insurgency and creating chaos. Do you have an option? Your partner who ditched you, probably didn’t love you at all. Both of you were probably stupid at the time of committing yourselves, and might have been saved from an impending disaster.

What if I tell you that the British were clearly justified in colonising India and other countries? That in the expanding nature of the world which was governed by the philosophies of ‘might and right’, it was absolutely natural for the powerful to do what they could. Surely, our philosophies have changed, so have we and with us have changed our definitions of right and wrong. But the British were right in that context.

Liberalist and constructivist theories work better in today’s era in comparison to realist theories. People have found that they are much better off in groups involving work by cooperation rather than working towards their goals single-handedly. This is the basic principle behind all international organisations, NGO’S and environmental organisations. The reason why the society has survived up to this point of time is that it is built on lines of trust and cooperation. We feel peaceful and content because we trust our parents, the civil engineer who designed our house,  the pilot who land us safely, etc. Just think about what will happen if you begin to doubt everyone.  We are certainly moving ahead here, look how connected and closer we are now. We all now begin to realize the importance of love and harmony and that we are much happier when we collaborate. Feelings of love and compassion make us feel a lot better and none of us would desire to go against and feel awful unless he or she is compelled otherwise.

Meslow described an individual having an hierarchy of needs, with a human being moving towards a higher level only when lower levels are satisfied. These levels include physiologic(food, clothing and sex), safety, love/belongingness, esteem and self-actualization. We start to deviate from the path of righteousness when one of our levels, especially the lower ones, are not satisfied. Revolts and mishaps happen when groups of people fail to satisfy their wants.

Now if you go back and ponder over all the criminals, corrupt officers or your near and dear ones who acted in an absolutely undesirable manner, it will never come out that these people were bad, as there was always something that tipped them off. No one is a born criminal, murderer, backstabber or anything else. There are only one kind of people. Just think-do we really have a complete choice over what we become?


– Kartik Narula


Catch the other side of the story on
The Doomsayer’s Diction


Cover designed by: Anshuman Das


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