24 September, 2009

"Truth is the only safe ground to stand on"

The other day I was having this conversation with a friend about the Junaid Jamshaid (JJ) statement regarding the stampede that occurred here in Karachi on 14th September ‘09. In a nutshell what happened was: Poor people died collecting free food and JJ held them responsible for their own deaths. His views: “Why did they have to go to collect free food when Allah will take care for the provision of sustenance to the hungry” (If someone is interested in following the entire JJ debate please go to http://tazeen-tazeen.blogspot.com/) Now my friend thought that JJ is partly correct in declaring what he declared where as I was of the notion that he is off beam from top to bottom. Friend said: people shouldn’t have gone to collect free food in the first place. It’s beggary! They should hold their heads high and retain their pride by earning their sustenance rather than waiting for the news of freely distributed food and running after it like beggars. I reasoned it and I negated. Firstly I don’t even think this is beggary and secondly I refuse to believe that a poor person who is unable to fulfill the ‘basic needs’ of his entire family (even while working day & night) will avoid or hesitate to get his hands on the little extra help being provided by anyone in the world. I’d quote "There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread" -- Mahatma Gandhi

So I was asked “if you were poor would you have done the same? Would you have gone out to collect free food?” I said most definitely I would have stepped out if I had six crying children waiting to be fed! My friend said you’re just saying; you wouldn’t have gone! Why because your pride wouldn’t have allowed you to do so. So basically my friend was saying it’s not in my blood to act like a beggar - whatever the circumstances.

This led to the discussion of Nature Vs Nurture. Will a beggar’s son always turn out to be a beggar? And thieves’ thief? Let’s try to figure it out!

There are people/scientists who say that when you are born you have a set of values, morals, ethics and principles. These are pro-nature people. They say that when you grow up you only develop those innate values further and act upon them, but never acquire new set of values or change your previous values or beliefs which were given to you by birth. If you question them as to how exactly does this by birth knowledge come to us? They tell you that it’s transmitted through the genes. In short: For them, everything is genetically predetermined. The Nature Theory say that not only are characteristics like eye color and hair color transmitted through the genes but more abstract traits such as intelligence, personality, aggression, and sexual orientation are also encoded in an individual's DNA. Now there are a lot of questions in my mind. Is there a gene which even determines/restricts/formulates thought process and what a person may or may not believe in?! Isn’t that almost unfair? But then who said everything is going to be fair?!? (Religious thoughts aside)

Now, the counter theory of the nurture school of thought deems environment to be responsible for the behavioral aspects of the individuals such as personality, beliefs, sexual orientations etc. Quoting an extract from www.about.com, “If environment didn't play a part in determining an individual's traits and behaviors, then identical twins should, theoretically, be exactly the same in all respects, even if reared apart. But a number of studies show that they are never exactly alike, even though they are remarkably similar in most respects”

So what’s the conclusion? They say that both Nature and Nurture have a 50-50 share in shaping the life of an individual. In some cases you are born that way whilst in others you are so and so because you were taught to be so and so! But coming back to my question, will a beggar’s son only become a beggar? well ‘cause then technically that’s the inherited intellectual level that he has!

Here’s what I think. When a baby is born he/she obtains several physical traits such as eye color, hair color etc from their parents’ DNA. And not discarding the lifelong researches of several genologists I also force myself to accept that behavioral aspects and personality traits might be inherent as well. BUT now that the baby is born with whatever the characteristics and exposed to the environment, the nurture effect takes place and no matter whatever the inherited disabilities or abilities one may possess the environment reshapes them. For e.g. If I were born in a butchers family and was adopted by a professor of science and technology who reared me with love and provided me with a world class education then it is most likely that I would turn out to be an intellectual or scholar rather than what was predetermined through my genes. Hence i'd say nurture the nature because at the end, nurture always saves the day!


Blogger The Survivor said...

Interesting post!!

Living life at a beggar level is very difficult especially when they have nothing to hold on to and have to depend on others for the daily bread. Yes, one would go any length to get rid of the hunger.

Its not necessary that a beggar's son will also be a beggar.

11:03 PM  
Blogger Rahul Bhatnagar said...

Its sad how people can overlook the suffering of the poor with apparent ease.

And we did a Nativism vs. Empiricism debate in psychology class, and yeah thats what we (and the rest of the world seems to have) concluded. Your persona is equally dependent on whats inside and whats outside.

A beggar's son will not necessarily become a beggar - At least that's what millions hope, when the go to sleep, undernourished and over worked, every single night.

3:26 PM  
Blogger Tauseef said...

I appreciate your reasoning and judgement. Good post.

2:31 PM  

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