I’m no left-of-center person who thinks the idea of family is past its time. I’m not exactly a disagreeable person either.
But there’s something about someone passionately arguing about something with ill-formed arguments that prompts the contrarian in me. I don’t think this is an isolated phenomenon; I see a lot of others do that too. It is extremely tempting to point out the flaws in their arguments. And if the folks putting forth the argument are extremely cocksure, you just want to pull the ground from beneath their feet and see what they do next. It’s human character, I suppose.
Years back, I was learning Reiki from a most accomplished man, who enlightened me that Reiki was probably what Jesus Christ used to heal the sick. A couple of years back, I agreed with this point of view after watching The Man From Earth, where the protagonist was supposed to have been a disciple of the Buddha (pronounced Booda), who went west to become Of Nazareth.
But there were other things I disagreed with, mainly because of his ill-formed and cocksure arguments. “What has the Western world achieved in spite of all its technological advancements? People have no peace of mind, divorce rates are increasing, teenage pregnancies are rising…..”. Back then, I was quick to anger, quick to irritation. I proceeded to launch my own tirade of how the joint family system was unfair to women, how it quashed individual enterprise and aspirations, and all the other things that were in our Social Science textbook that year (Explain the disadvantages of the joint family system (4)).
That was when I was in my early teens. Now I’m far more disinterested in what others are saying, more jaded, slow to provocation (for the most part), less involved in most discussions (as they are normally reruns of earlier ones), and steer clear of trying to contradict age-old points of view (‘Communism/Capitalism shall save the earth’, ‘Gay men need to be subjected to electroshock therapy’, ‘Diwali crackers should be banned’, so on and so forth), and prefer to say ‘Whatever’, either out loud or in my head.
So I was with a group of rather pleasant people a few days back, and one of them was elaborating on the wonders that Indian culture has to offer to its Western counterpart.
Cuisine, I agreed – exactly how they managed to eat food that had but a modicum of seasoning in it, and salads that mainly consisted of the leaf collection they acquired on their morning walk, and how they marketed sauces that hardly tingled my tastebuds as ‘Superhot’, was totally beyond me.
Our philosophies, mm, yeah, okay.
Our family values. Being a veteran of a movie like 2012, I didn’t think the US of A really required much more bombardment of family values. But this man soldiered on. He told us about a Black man attending a Diwali celebration in Florida and saying to his hosts, “If only my community had family values like yours, crime rate among my community would be pretty low”. And hence, there was assumed to be an inverse correlation between crime rate and quantity/quality of family values. QED.
But something didn’t quite match. A counterexample occurred to me.
“What about crime families like the Corleones or the Sopranos?”.
I mightn’t be getting invited to a Diwali celebration in the short run.