Scrutinising Society- The Aftertaste of Introspection

NOTE: The following note is on a slightly analytic refection, the genesis, however, was more..chaotic.

Since childhood, one is taught to differentiate between the ‘right deed’ and the ‘wrong deed’. The lessons and morals are countless and manage to include everything; be it countries, religions, past experiences, fairy tales in parallel universes and paranormal deities etc.

Thus, since childhood, we are conditioned to be able to make the choice between, what always is in black and white, the right path and the wrong. However, in reality, it is never so. They say ‘Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.’ Like beauty, one, in all fairness, presents the same opportunity between what he/she thinks is right or wrong. Citing an example to explain the above clearly, your decision to stay home on a weeknight instead of going for a movie may differ from your roommate’s. However, both think they are taking the ‘right’ decision and the other, for whatever reason, is not. 

Experiments conducted by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences revealed that our decisions are made approximately seven seconds prior to our conscious self being aware of the result. This was done by monitoring  micro patterns of activity in the frontopolar cortex while the participants of the experiment, decided whether to use either their right or left hand to push a button at free will. Max Planck neuroscientist John-Dylan Haynes, who co-authored the experiment, had the following to say, “By the time consciousness kicks in, most of the (decision) work has already been done.” This goes on to reveal that the unconscious mind is very powerful and is relatively stronger than the conscious mind whose functioning in limited. Thus, we do not actually control our decisions; they are already decided by the largely unexplored science of the unconscious mind.

We are also taught to meditate and ‘collect our thoughts’ at the end of a stressful day to unwind, reflect and thus unburden. The process of stress relief involves a key factor, introspection. Defined as ‘exploring one’s own conscious thoughts and feelings’, it allows us to examine our mental processes and emotional state. To allow our conscious mind to scroll through our activities and pick out the viruses, i.e., what our conscious mind decides is wrong.  It is said to relieve us of stress as once we have picked out the ‘wrongs’, we begin to slowly eliminate them in order to cleanse our mind and be at peace with ourselves. They say, introspection helps us win half the battles, however, is merely the process of introspection enough?

The world we live in is one filled with all kinds of criminals and fiends. The naïve fool themselves into believing all the evil in the world is far away and somehow will not enter the bubble or the façade of surreal reality created by them. The remaining, are cautious and even paranoid. Although, wouldn’t you be too? The media is bombarded with a plethora of horrific stories of homicide, suicide, rape, international fraud, discrimination and cold blooded torture. Governments, involved in criminal conspiracies of monumental proportions, noticed but ignored.  We must keep in mind that these are all the reported stories and that the ones which unfortunately cannot be brought into light for whatever reasons are far more in number.

The above makes one think, where is the introspection? What of the need to cleanse the conscious mind? The half won battle remains defeated because a large number of people now are able to live with their inner demons. The key process which is eliminated in order to allow one to do so is to follow up after the introspection. Identifying the problems is not sufficient as it does not magically abhor them. Not that people do not reflect upon their actions, we are all social animals, what differentiates us from animals is our ability to think past our basic physiological needs. Thus, the area of worry is the fact that most of us have processed our wrongs, we have done the needful introspection, day in and day out and the mind, instead of working towards eliminating the wrongs begins to find alternatives, begins to accept the wrongs as ‘a part of one’s nature’ and thus begins the slackening of our conscience.

The major gateway is the process of introspection and failure to comply with it and sincerely work towards personal betterment. It leaves us vulnerable and susceptible to all kinds of evils. This is clearly evident in the society today, along with greed and selfishness. The two having always existed, focusing on selfishness, altruism is not only rare but in itself a paradox, for one almost always has a selfish motive. Religion, till a large extent has helped people be altruistic under the masquerade of an omnipresent and omnipotent presence watching over all their actions. The fear of hell, the fear of the unknown, is so impactful that millions of people think twice before doing a wrong deed and agree to go out on a limb to help others. However, is this altruism? That is for the reader to decide.

The society is in shambles today. The very moral fabric is ebbing quickly and in a frantic attempt to save it, people are losing their minds. Be it the media propaganda Imageor a government which considers 18 as an appropriate age to get married but 25, appropriate to consume alcoholic beverages, rash decisions taken by people who realise the potential threat of a mind which lacks empathy. An interesting fact is that people are slowly beginning to overpower guilt. Once guilt has been locked away, the conscience now lacks any selfish motive to pluck at the mind and thus the person becomes capable of lying, cheating and worse. Studies done in the field of criminal psychiatry have shown the two main characteristics of a psychopath are his/ her complete lack of empathy and the ability to ignore guilt completely, thus, a malfunctioning conscious mind. I shall leave the reader at this note, to introspect.