Contradiction is the mother of all innovation. When two opposite and contradicting ideas collide a new idea is born. As we see in scientific approach exception is where the innovation is. It is not what fits the pattern but what does not that paves the path for further development. Rutherford’s model of atom was an answer to contradictions in the Thomson’s model of atom. Similarly Bohr’s model was an answer to contradictions in Rutherford model and so on. When things don’t agree that is when they start their journey forward.
This is equally true for the society. There are two kinds of ideas or opinions in a society, the idea of an individual and collective idea of a community. The idea of an individual is always greatly influenced by the idea of the community ze comes from though it also depends on other factors like the kind of socialisation ze gets. For example- An individual from Jain community can have any opinion on whether a person should eat meat or not but his opinion is bound to be influenced by the idea of Jain community on vegetarianism. But what happens when an individual from a community starts questioning the ideas of that community.
Let us suppose our country to be a community. Now this community has a set system of ideas, opinions, beliefs on every matter. When an individual from a community starts questioning the ideas and belief system of the community then is when progressive ideas are born. As these individuals start voicing their opinions they come together to form an idea of minority. This idea of minority will come in clash with the idea of majority. If the idea of minority is progressive it will slowly but surely grow in strength as more and more people are convinced of the logic behind the idea. The process of growth and nurture of progressive ideas is a slow but consistent task. Discussion, debate and democratic space to ask questions are the tools which act as fuel to move this process forward. As an idea is discussed, questioned and debated on it gets more and more refined. The process is very similar to formation of a theory from a hypothesis. Once a hypothesis has been proposed it has to be checked, practically put to use, experimented on and rechecked. Only than a hypothesis is refined to form a theory. Discussion, questioning and debate serve a similar purpose in refining of an idea. So every time you voice your opinion, ask questions, fearlessly take stands, discuss and debate you carry this process forward. So no individual should feel that his opinion doesn’t matter or it won’t have any effect.
Using these tools the idea of minority grows in strength slowly but surely. The progressive ideas are in constant clash with the old regressive ideas, rubbing off their edges. The old regressive ideas in clash with progressive ideas are on a constant journey of becoming less and less regressive over a period of time. But the speed of change is very slow. Until one day the idea of minority growing from strength to strength becomes the idea of majority. Now the speed of change increases drastically, the old regressive idea receives numerous blows each day until it finally perishes away. For example- Sati which was once the idea of majority in our community, has now perished away. Child marriage is the idea of a very small minority now and is on its journey to oblivion.
So we see how birth and growth of progressive ideas is eventually followed by actual social change. We have also seen how speaking of each individual strengthens the idea of collective, carries the process of growth and nurture of progressive ideas forward and serves a blow to the old regressive ideas. But there is another set of people who know and are convinced of progressive ideas but still don’t speak up. Let us dive into their perspective by means of a story.
Once there was a group of sailors, there ship had met shipwreck and they were stuck on an island. The conditions on the island were very harsh, every few days they would loose one of their men. There was only one tree on the whole island, which was so high that it felt like its top was in the clouds and its roots deep into the ground. The men held a meeting, so as to discuss what to do. They had two options either wait for help which may or may never come or to cut down the tree, built a boat and find their way to freedom. They decided to wait for help as they thought that trying to cut the big tree without tools in these harsh conditions was another way of inviting death faster to the table. But two men had a different opinion, they kicked the big tree for hours each day with the firm determination that no matter how big the tree, it will have to eventually give away. Other men laughed at them calling them mad saying things like, “are u searching for death?”, “the big tree is never going to give away, it has been there for thousands of years?” After a week of endless kicking, there was a crack on outer bark of the tree. On seeing it few other men were convinced and joined in the kicking. Now the men were taking turns kicking. There were others among the group who were convinced of the idea, but still remained quiet fearing what the majority would say or simply because they thought what difference could one of them possibly make. But seeing the impact blows were having on the tree more and more men kept joining them, Until most of the men had joined them. The tree now creaked with each kick and after months of hard work finally fell to the ground. The sailors built a tree and found their way to freedom.
Make no mistake the tree is going to fall one day. People who know this and still remain quiet are the biggest culprits of all. Because a thing called no opinion does not exist. When you do not voice your opinion, it serves as a consensus for the old regressive idea and hurts even more if it is the idea of majority. The only thing it does is prolongs the freedom of the sailors. It serves as a roadblock in the path of development, an obstacle in the growth of progressive ideas.
I hope I have been able to convey as to why it is so important to speak up and using tools of debate, discussion and questioning take process of growth and nurture of progressive ideas forward. Instead of keeping quiet and becoming roadblocks in path to change and a better world.