Published in the Daily Star October 7, 2007
We enter into the realm of two friends, who, whilst on a stroll across the park on a quiet autumn evening, land on a discussion about the existence of good and evil, in other words, the necessity of oppositions and contention. Audy, who is a student of Theosophy, discusses at length to explain keywords such as 'good', and 'bad', 'right' and 'wrong' to the frustrated and agitated Maya, an Anthropology major.
Audy: So in your opinion this hype that the Sky culture has been creating is responsible for the deterioration of our society?
Maya: Yes! I mean look at what they are airing on TV nowadays! They are spoiling us, especially the younger generations. These days we spend more time in front of the TV instead of studying or doing any other productive work. Teenagers are too busy changing their hairstyles and buying westernized clothes to even take a second look at their own culture and heritage. Drugs, sex, violence these are what interests them now thanks to shows such as 'Baywatch' and 'Sex and the City'. Why is it that these young people have made it their life target to be like the Americans instead of embracing their own roots? Is this what our rich culture is losing to? The battle is waging on with no soldiers at our side, and also, this stands against everything our traditional ties have ever stood for!
Audy: Well, to tell you the truth you seem to have many misconceptions concerning the Western media. I mean you say these things are bad and these things are good. So tell me, what criterion does anything have to fulfill to be labeled as 'good' and 'bad'?
Maya: Anything which shows an ounce of disrespect towards our society, towards our elders and is harmful to anyone; that is 'bad'.
Audy: So say, a mosquito bites you, and you kill it that's termed as a 'bad' deed?
Maya: Well, no not that
Audy: Then it is alright on the mosquito's part or the street dog's part to bite us?
Maya: I guess, but
Audy: So you think we should give our parents a piece of our minds when they ground us or hit them back when they hit us? Would that be 'good'?
Maya: But it's not right to insult our parents!
Audy: Then tell me what is 'right' and what is 'wrong'?
Maya: 'Right' is anything which is good and proper; anything that is in conformity with truth, reason, fact and standard principles!
Audy: You just said a 'right' deed is in collaboration with standard principles - nearly all the middle and upper class families in our country have got maid-servants in their homes, right?
Maya: Yes, but what does that have to do with
Audy: Listen, they don't hurt these servants, right? Instead, they try to help them since these poor girls are usually tortured in villages and there is a large scarcity of food in those places, right?
Audy: So now you are agreeing that it is 'right' to keep these poor girls as servants, or should I say as “slaves of the 21st century”? If the affluent class truly wants to help them, they should provide these girls with schooling or some form of education, rather than keeping them as domestic labor.
Maya: True that, but at least we are better than the Americans; we don't only see females as 'sex objects'!
Audy: Okay, since our culture and society is so important to you, why is it that the majority of our males disgrace our own women? Rape them? Hate our women? If a woman is unable to bear children, her husband should be kind, loving, caring and protective towards her, not shun her or take up mistresses! Why are women being discriminated as 'useless creatures' and being forced to get married at such early ages?
Maya: Uh huh, I'm beginning to get your drift!
Audy: Finally! I think 'right' might be a part of 'good' but what is 'right' might not always be 'good' and vice versa.
Maya: Care to elaborate, genius?
Audy: You just lend your ears, Watson! See, it might be 'right' for you to buy a shoe made of crocodile skin, but it is not 'right' to kill these animals since that will result in their extinction. Similarly, an alcoholic may feel 'good' drinking alcohol everyday, but it is definitely not 'good' for his health!
Maya: I can't say I disagree with you but I can see some questionable issues in there. In fact, I still think some of your words are not true.
Audy: Define 'truth' then.
Maya: Anything which you identify and observe making use of your five senses.
Audy: So you are saying that anything tangible is true? You are saying that what one sees as black is in reality black, and what one sees as white is in truth, white? Thus, when you see a color as black, you know that in 'truth' it is black? And also, that which you observe as round is also round right?
Audy: [Smirks] I was surfing through TV that day when my eye caught an interesting documentary which showed this rare species of bugs which see everything in the form of either a square or an octagonal, and the only color they see is blue. So what you see as black, the bug sees as blue.And say, an alien comes on Earth whose eyesight is far more biologically advanced than that of the humans, and he sees colors which are undetected by the human eye; he will see that same object differently as well. So what you think you see as black will be blue for the bug and some other color for the alien. So now tell me, who is telling the truth? Is it black, blue or something else? What then, is the truth?
Maya: Okay, alright I get it! I agree with all that you have just said.
Audy: In conclusion, due to the lack of a measuring scale for 'right' and 'wrong', 'good' and 'bad', and 'truth' and 'false', you just can't assume things. What is 'bad' for you may just be 'good' for the Americans and you just cannot come to the verdict that they or their media is 'bad'. It is our fault if we only take all the 'bad' things from their media and ignore the 'good' like on CNN or Discovery.
Maya: Hmm, looks like you got me there.
Audy: [Laughs] All in an evening's stroll!
The writers are MSJ students of ULAB.