Your perception of me is a reflection of you; my reaction to you in an awareness of me

In this essay…

Once upon a time, there was an angry boy, Mohit. He was playing an online video game. In the meanwhile, the internet connection goes out. He immediately calls customer care and starts shouting at the customer care representative. The representative was politely trying to persuade him that there is a technical glitch. To resolve the glitch, system up-gradation was in process. It would take 15-20 minutes. The Representative also asked for cooperation and patience. But Mohit didn’t stop shouting.

It shows that Mohit’s perception toward the representation is a reflection of Mohit’s character. The reaction of the representative toward Mohit’s misbehavior shows the virtue of corporate culture based on emotional intelligence and self-management. Such events are seen in daily life across the spectrum of life. But still, some question remains – Why does such a perception-reflection event take place? Where do we see such an event? How does it impact our society? What could be done? What role the government could play?

Why does such a perception-reflection event take place?

Such events take place due to a lack of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the virtue of self-management as well as others’ management. From the humanism perspective of M.N. Roy, people are not free from illusions. There are virtual identities like caste, class, religion, region, and race. It poses obstructions in the process of self-awareness. Mohit in the above case is not aware of the self. That’s why he doesn’t know how to respect the one who serves him.

Rousseau, a philosopher criticizes modernity for the same. According to him, rationality inculcates the feeling of ‘mine and thine.’ It creates social stigma toward other people. For example, a small kid doesn’t know this world, lives in the state of nature. In the state of nature, people cooperate with each other. The Child doesn’t know who is the “enemy” and who is the “friend” of his or his father. He doesn’t know the color of the skin of people before hugging them.

Similarly, John Rawls in his book “The Theory of Justice, 1971” gave the concept of the hypothetical social contract. To make his sense of justice universal, he wanted people to be free from obstacles and go for rational choice. That’s why he sends a man at ‘original position’ behind the veil of ignorance. At the ‘original position’, people would behave with rationality and be free from ignorance and arrogance. Thus, due to a lack of rationality people are full of perceptions and stigma towards others.

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Perception-reflection across the spectrum

In ancient Greece, Socrates was accused of corrupting the youth of Athens and sentenced to death. Socrates had an opportunity to flee but he chose to drink the executioner’s cup of poison. The perception of the justice system in Athens toward Socrates’ work is nothing but the reflection of the parochial system of Athens Greece. Socrates’ reaction to obey the state in order to protect Athens from the state of anarchy is the awareness and excellence of Socrates.

A similar event is seen in modern India. During colonial days, British officials saw Indians as barbarians. The British government used violence against the protests, executed by the Indian freedom fighters. Indian leaders like Aurobindo Ghosh opposed the perception of the British government toward India. He claimed that India is already a nation and the rise of India is not stoppable. Leaders like Mahatma Gandhi used the tool of tolerance and non-violence is what the culture of Indian civilization against the British perception.

Even perception-reflection events are seen in today’s world. At the individual level, we see the footprints of people’s awareness. Due to the mass culture, Mob lynching is witnessed in India in the recent past. But we witness a unique trend post-Mob lynching. Whenever media persons ask the victim’s family about their demand – Most of the families ask for justice in reply and don’t talk for revenge. It shows the perception of mob attackers toward the community. But the reaction of the family toward the violence shows the culture and awareness of the concerned community about constitution morality and the Justice system.

In politics, we often see communal polarization for a vote. A communal politician incites masses for communal violence. It shows the reflection of the communal behavior of the concerned politician. How the masses respond to their communal speeches is the awareness and political culture of the masses. Ashutosh Varshney in his study reveals that Lucknow and Jaipur have not experienced communal riots but Delhi and Ahmedabad often experience riots. It is due to a lack of awareness of neighborhood diversity in Delhi and Ahmedabad.

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Similarly, Adolf Hilter in Germany propagated racial politics and propelled the violence of majority masses against minority Jews. People lacked political culture and didn’t act in concert with each other. Consequently, the mass genocide of Jews is witnessed during the reign of Hitler. It shows that Hitler’s perception of the new world order led by Germany is the reflection of Adolf Hitler. The reaction of the German people toward Hitler shows the lack of awareness of the political culture of Germany. On contrary, Indian masses gained political culture through modern education and opposed the oppression of British imperialism.

At the societal level, there is a lack of communal harmony. Ashutosh Varshney in his study reveals the reason that there is a narrative of “We Vs Them” in a diverse society like India. It is the perception of one society to look at others society with apprehensions and distrust. The way each people in society react is the awareness of the concerned society. For example, During the partition, the Muslim league proposed the notion that Hindu-Muslim coexistence is not possible and thus asked for a separate state for Muslims. It is the culture and awareness of Indian Muslims who didn’t join hands with them and preferred to stay in India with a democratic spirit.

In administration, it is the perception in a tribal society that the government officials are corrupt and a sign of oppression. It peddles the business of Naxalism. But the officials like O.P. Chaudhary reacted in a positive and enthusiastic manner. He fulfilled the basic needs of people through good governance and generated goodwill for the government through initiatives like “Chhoo lo Asman” and “Nanhi part.” Thus, how people think about the system and administration is the perception about administration constructed by the vested interest. How an administrator reacts to the people is the awareness of an officer.

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At the geopolitical level, intellects like a former ambassador of the US to India says – ‘India is a functional anarchy.’ Similarly, Gunnar Myrdal in his book “Asian Drama” calls India a ‘soft state.’ It means that India lacks rule of law and constitutional morality. It is their perception of India. But India’s assistance to the world during the COVID-19 pandemic shows the value of Indian civilization and its awareness. India helped more than 90 countries with HCQ tablets under operation Sanjeevani and with Vaccine under operation Maitri.

Influences and the way ahead

Perception-reflection relation affects society in both ways. For a person like Mohit (As discussed in the above story), it gives an opportunity to learn self-awareness as well as awareness of others. Thus, they can learn good attitudes and interact in society positively. On the other hand, people like customer care representatives (As discussed in the above story) can become a source of inspiration for others.

Further, there is a need for self-introspection in the people. The Government can assist in organizing sensitization programs and meditation camps for the people. Once the people understand who they are, it could also help in solving the social issues of our society. For example, the day an employee understands the purpose for which he/she is in the office, possibilities of corruption could be disappeared.

Thus, perception needs to be first deconstructed and then reconstructed based on self-awareness as well as the awareness of other people. It would lead to making people just followed by the just society and just state. In society, there would be communal harmony. People would respect each other irrespective of caste, class, color, and religion. Peaceful coexistence and happiness of all are the core philosophy of Indian civilization.

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