Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Land of the Blind

The Land of the Blind

We often hear people say that in the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is king. It is used to emphasize the fact that, often enough you don't need to be the best to succeed, you just need to be better than the people around you. In a more negative sense, it can also mean that those who happen to have a slight advantage can easily exploit or dominate those who don't.

Now let us explore this Land of the Blind a little bit more. It is a very interesting country. Let's imagine that you are this one-eyed king or queen. Now, if the rest of the world is blind, would you bother to dress yourself up nicely everyday? Would you as the king bother to put on your official regalia when there's no one else in the world who would be able to appreciate its pompt and pageantry? Would physical beauty have any meaning all?

A lot of people, women especially, spend a lot time worrying about their physical appearance. Women spend hours preening in front of the mirror, deciding what to wear for a function or outing.

But men hardly pay any attention to what women wear--usally it's what's underneath that they are interested in. Still women fuss a lot about all these things, because it is often not the approval of men that they seek, it's the judgement of other women--their peers--that the are concerned about. Women are the harshest critics of other women's dressing.

It is amazing how much of our happiness is dependent on the approval of others. Many of us are afraid to speak in front of a large audience not because we lack any speaking ability but mainly because we can't bear the thought of having hundreds of pairs of eyes and ears judging us.

Humiliation and pride are all conditions of the mind that owes their existence solely to the assumption that the rest of the world are always there to judge us. But who are the people that make up the rest of the world? It's just people like you and me--people who are afraid to be judged by other people too. We are all in the same boat.

We all seek each other's approval. Perhaps in a magnanimous world, everyone will praise everyone else. But that doesn't work either because we all have egos. The ego wants praise for itself only. If everyone gets praised, then the praise becomes meaningless. The ego cannot be satiated by feeding it what others also possess. Its natural tendency is to want to be unique, to be above other people, or to at least belong to an exclusive group. That defines the ego.

Everyone should spend some time in the Land of the Blind; it can be a very therapeutic vacation. We'll all come back, seeing things a lot more clearly.

No comments: