Who will rock the boat?

  • Yuvika Grewal, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Dec 09, 2014 12:16 IST

Once upon a time, a troop of monkeys lived in a canopy jungle encompassed by a concrete wall. The simians lived a fulfilling life and were happy with what they knew, how they lived, and what they ate. The habitat was much to their liking because they didn't have to strive for food; their supplies came, three times a day, from the other side of the wall. They were never touched by curiosity about the supplier, as the need was fulfilled adequately.

One afternoon, a monkey couldn't satiate his hunger, which incurred him to do what was never done before. To lull his desire, he climbed the wall. No sooner had he set foot on the top than he was hit with a stick. The mongrel doubled up in pain and retired to the ground. It narrated the ghastly incident was to the others and the entire jungle was abuzz with warning. Time passed, a custom evolved and, thus, became a way of life. As more animals immigrated to the jungle, the wiseacres passed on their tales and lessons. Resultantly, the occupants became wont to the already existing. As the years elapsed, the jungle grew.

Then one day, a young monkey came to join the tribe. He maintained ordinary looks like the other occupants, he ate the same food like others did, but there was something about him that drew stares from all. The same tales were narrated to him, which he heard with high disinterest. The next day, he did what others dreaded. It was seen going up the wall. Horrified, the other apes gaped. It kept going. It grabbed one of the banana bunches hanging over the wall and proceeded to eat the fruits one after the other until his stomach swelled into a bump. He stuttered back puffy-chested. That day marked a sea change in the history of the jungle.

The monkeys have evolved into humans but the practice remains. Even in the changing times, we fear breaking the order of the day. What was prevalent decades ago has become the knowledge of the wise. We dread doing new things at work or in the social environment.

The dictionary defines wisdom as the body of knowledge and principle that develops with a specified society. Over time, a well-cultivated culture emerges as the societal wisdom, of imitation. Society-wise, we all want to look part of the sensible group. Nobody wants to rock the boat. We live our lives to capitulate and reconcile to the existing. The fear of the stick lingers.

Society has two kinds of people: some are like the monkeys in the jungle, who follow the others; while some fall on the other side of the cleavage, who chase the truth. It is time we question our beliefs, time we ask why.

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