Our emotions are also linked in at a low level of sensory perception. This makes sense from an evolutionary point of view. Imagine a tiger jumps in front of you while you are walking. Your eyes will process the information and you will start to run without giving it a second thought. Guess why? The emotion of fear has activated the ‘Fight or Flight’ reflex before you could even register the tiger in your brain, as emotions are a hard wired shortcut to perception. Emotions also give us the unique capability to not see what we simply do not want to see. (Guess why one never sees anything good in the person/ country/ system that one does not like). Now, imagine a dark alley and you see a shape that looks like a tiger. Guess what, the body will go in to the ‘fight or flight’ mode as the hypothalamus would release the chemicals in to the blood stream and your body would be conditioned to run. This is the trap. In case you could stop and reason that ‘how can there be a tiger here’? You investigate a little more and find that the tiger look-alike is just a garbage bag thrown into the alley. This is now a new possibility and the brain will start to re-program the neuro-nets. (This is just an example of how the system functions. One has to be careful any time emotions are involved). In case we do not deal with, and retire this emotion in to wisdom, then we would never evolve and will keep re-experiencing this emotion, and the pre-conditioned response, and this would then result in cumulative emotional history which would get further etched or hard-wired into our brain. This brings us to this question, ‘Do we actually need these emotions’?
Yes, we do. Emotions make life worth living. Remember your first crush in school? How did it feel? Coming first in class? First day at your dream job? The day when you felt very close to your Creator? 29/ 11/ 2008 - when the Commandos completed their mission? Etc. One can remember the incidents vividly even now – thanks to the emotions involved. Emotions are good but one must remember the trap too……. Imagine who makes use of them the maximum? Our politicians – listen to their rhetoric; BJP – Congress is soft on terror; Cong – BJP will be anti-minorities; MNS and SS – Marathi manoos; DMK – Tamil language; go through the non-issues that they get people all emotional about: Mumbai and not Bombay; Bengaluru not Bangalore, etc. etc. These issues are emotional, and help our politicians to side step the main issues of development, growth, job creation, etc. The advertisers are another lot – they give you facts, sometimes distorted too, along with a lot of emotional appeal; and others who want to imprint the message in the long term memory of your brain. Repeated appeals of this nature solidifies your neuro-nets.
My readings have convinced me that Jinnah was one of the most secular leaders (Advani was not wrong), but he still was the chief architect of a country based on religion. He did not believe in it, but he was convinced that with Nehru and Patel around he had no chance of becoming the PM. Personal power ambitions led him to mislead people. How did he do it? Emotions – Muslims will be slaves in free India. People believed him, and followed him. Emotions were involved and he was successful in giving a new paradigm to the Muslim population. Before departing Bombay though, on 14 Aug 1947, he wanted to reverse his propaganda and urged the Muslims left behind in India to be “Indians first and Muslims later”. Similarly after landing in Karachi, he urged people there to be “Pakistanis first”. Was he right about the state of Muslims in India? I do not think so. However, we still have this old baggage of the partition era with us – ALL communities have it. Why? I believe because we have still not “retired in to wisdom” some of the very same emotions that were experienced during partition. These are on display on the internet for any one to see, and the internet is only visited by educated people. Guess the state of the illiterate masses. Many more have been added thereafter – 1984, 1992, 2002 etc. etc. These are hardwired in our brains, to start riots at the slightest pretext. We still have politicians, like Jinnah, who use the same techniques even today. How do we guard against the long term damage they can cause to the citizens psyche?
How do we change our reality, which is based on our perception - that is dependent on our sensory inputs, our learning, our experiences, our emotions and our paradigm? The answer is in the question itself. We need to go beyond the box that we live in right now. We need to increase our reference library in the brain, analyse our experiences, make a paradigm shift and most of all, we need to QUESTION everything that has emotions attached with it. We need to believe in a new paradigm that says that all people born on this land are Indians, irrespective of their personal beliefs, and everyone has equal rights and responsibilities based on the letter and spirit of our Constitution. No one can claim lack of opportunities, based on one’s personal beliefs. I believe that India provides equal opportunities to all who believe, and behave, like Indians. How else could we have a person from the Muslim community from a small Tamil Nadu village become the President of India; a person from the Sikh community become the PM, Air Chief Marshal Idris Latif as the Chief of Air Staff, Mayawati and Antulay as CM, and so on.
Talking of equal opportunities, I am reminded of an incident that took place when I was doing the staff college in Montgomery Alabama. We had a Muslim officer who had just finished Air War College at the same location. We had a Christian Air Marshal who was on a visit to the US; visit us at the staff college. This led the wife of the Pakistan Air Force officer to naively ask my wife as to how India permitted a Muslim and a Christian officer to reach such high posts in the military. In Pakistan, she said, Hindus and Christians could only be employed as dhobis and domestic help.
I was in the Indian Air Force and saw India as it should be - a microcosm of what India can be. My perception and reality of India is vastly different from what people have in the civilian world, primarily because I have seen how people with diverse thoughts, beliefs, languages, cultures etc. can come together as Indians to enrich each other’s lives, and that is also the India that our founding fathers envisioned. Experience has widened my reference box. In case similar experience is not available, we need to get more knowledge to widen the box, other wise our reality will always remain limited, primarily because we cannot perceive beyond our limitations.