Rigidity: A Curse of our Heedless Hearts
By Talha Masaood
In its literal terms, the word rigidity refers to the inflexibility of characters, concepts, and ideas. Generally, however, it implies the highly prejudiced and immovable judgments of people about others to be right or wrong, decent or indecent, on the basis of their gender, the colors of their skin, their ethnicity, race or religion. Such discrimination discolors a character’s ingenuity of thought and action, cripples the growth of its intellect and where it has acquired the position of a socially sanctioned attitude, it deprives that society of its peace and harmony. Zero discrimination Day is globally celebrated to consequently guard us against such rigidity of judgment and the discrimination it incurs.
In addition to its literal definition and the generally prevalent perception, it should also be acknowledged that certain perspectives are required to fully comprehend the inflexibility of thought and action that such a rigidity entails. For instance, most of us do not realize that the Justice and equality we so ardently advocate as the solution for discrimination often ends up making us as rigid in our understanding of others as those we struggle against. In our own beloved Pakistan, for example, since the inception of terrorism and their subsequent adoption of religion to mask their inhumanity, people have started considering beard and hijab as symbols of an individual’s sympathies with terrorism’s barbaric ideology or radical extremism. Thus, many devout Muslims who practice Islam out of their love for their religion and without any malicious intent towards anyone often suffer from a stone-cold disparity of treatment in their institutions and workplaces.
Consequently, such sufferers begin to believe that if such a rigidly disparaging treatment can be expected of people who are educated and claim to be well-versed in affairs of the modern world, then social justice and equality; a world free from the curses of discrimination, is just a utopian dream that is created to pacify the guilty conscience of those who advocate popular beliefs and values, for they themselves are the discriminators who are soiling their own societies. And eventually, they begin to ask themselves if dignity and respect is only a right for the Heralds of popular beliefs and values and doubts if social inclusion is a right or a privilege.
These questions echo the anguish of all those who suffer from such unacknowledged discrimination, and the bitterness of those who keep on enduring its degradation until they lose their faith in the goodness of humanity, and ultimately find their backs broken by the sheer weight of their humiliation. In our zeal to uphold the values of justice and equality and in our overwhelming passion to speak against all kinds of discrimination, we get so fixated upon our own repugnance for rigidity and discrimination that we are the ones who unknowingly make people lose their faith in humanity.
Hence, in conclusion, the evolution of our own reality should not be stilled by limiting ourselves to our own perspectives of things. Let us come forth with the openness to understand the perspectives of all factions of our respective societies. For inequality and discrimination, the rigidity of thoughts and the inflexibility of actions, are not always apparent vices of others but sometimes a subtle plague of our own selves.
In essence, for us to be able to affect any kind of change in this world we need to first identify the extent of our own guilt in the weakening of its morality. Then, through acceptance and the consequent correction of our ways, contribute to its progress. For indeed the future of humanity can only be prosperous if we honestly endeavor to respect and value each other’s differences and recognize the significance of the fact that no matter who or where you are, you and I, all of us together are an indispensable asset to each other; something which John Donne so exquisitely illustrates in the following words:
“No man is an island entire of itself; every man
Is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
Is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
Well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
Own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind.”