Everything in life sees itself through. Every action has cause and effect. To pretend that some actions don’t is not just naive, it’s ignorance. I love how people rate actions on a scale of retribution. We convince ourselves that some actions have a lower rating of consequences. We calculate the risk of doing something, right? I’m sure we’ve all done it at some point or the other.
I’ve noticed that we’ve moved away over generations from asking whether something is right or wrong to how wrong something is. It’s interesting, isn’t it? This perpetual endlessness of grey, with no black or white in sight. We smudged all the lines, our personalities representing the fissures between right and wrong. We inherited it from our ancestors these lines of intersection.
My parents always made goodness seem like a choice, and maybe it is but they were always vague about it. I will use an example, I was raised non-vegetarian. I never saw anything wrong with being non-vegetarian. In fact, I still love food that is non-vegetarian, both cooking and eating it. In school, vegetarians would sometimes grimace at my lunchbox. You can’t blame them, they were raised without it. My parents always said meat was essential to a balanced diet and since I did sports it was even more important.
I don’t know a life without non-veg. But as I grew up, I was exposed to vegans who argued on the morality of vegetarianism. The cruel conditions that animals were kept in became apparent. But, I knew I couldn’t give up all animal products. Perhaps it was capitalism. But concepts like the Yulin festival scared me. Then the whole matter of the beef ban in India also confused and bothered my sense of identity.
Since I was a kid, my parents pushed a certain kind of non-vegetarianism in my diet, where I didn’t eat beef, and many other animals. There was a degree of non-vegetarianism that was acceptable even for me. These came with religious justifications. My parents said the goddess we pray to, Kaveri, had a feud with her husband a sage Agasthya, and the ones who supported her were non-vegetarian. She blessed us saying that as long as we continued to worship her and visit her birthplace regularly we wouldn’t be considered sinners. It seems convenient, doesn’t it?
There was also the matter of geography. We were hill people, a warrior tribe, who went on hunts. There was a historical aspect to it wasn’t there? It’s wrong to assume that we didn’t inherit our ancestors’ ideas of sustenance. Our cuisine’s most famous dish is non-vegetarian, does that make us wrong?
There are degrees to wrong and right, and these degrees aren’t properly demarcated. This battle of non-vegetarianism has many connotations, religious, societal and environmental too. There are arguments for and against. I adopted my parents’ morality subconsciously. There are things I don’t accept now and there are things I do because I developed my own judgement. I didn’t follow my parents blindly. Now I don’t know whether I am doing the right thing. Sometimes my choices seem unfair and selfish and at other points, they seem right.
When I did continue to argue with them, my parents said, we can only be the best we can be. As if all our wrongs become right just because we are doing our best. It demands the question, can our beliefs be wrong? It seems as if we are constantly trying to defend our beliefs. Especially in today’s world. Our beliefs determine our groups in school, our social standing, status and so much more.
I have always believed there are consequences to everything and we will pay the price in some form or the other. It’s impossible to forever get away with anything. If it’s really wrong we’ll know. I know there are some things I just wouldn’t do, I just know that. But I know there are people who would do those things that I can’t bring myself to do. Neither of us knows whether we’re wrong or right. But I want to say here, just because the majority is on your side doesn’t make what you do right or wrong for that matter.
Like my parents said, we can only do our best and hope we’re on the right side. Time has shown us, that at different points wrong becomes right and right becomes wrong. It depends on who has power. This tussle between right and wrong is the turmoil we’re all subject to from a young age.
Perhaps our scales of measuring wrong from right aren’t accurate enough. We just hope they are. So far hope has been responsible for devastation and salvation, and our hope that things are going right will determine the road ahead as well. Our custodians of power represent our own beliefs of wrong and right. So how surprised should we be when those who lead us seem to stray far from our sense of wrong and right? We have to question whether that’s really who we are on our scales of retribution. Retribution is not a choice, actions are.