To Know or Not to Know
To Know or Not to Know
The question that bothered me constantly may not be as existential as that of Hamlet’s, nevertheless has nagged me effectively. What does a person do, when he or she knows something for a fact and finds people mouthing the contrary with confidence in public? I know that the simple and straight answer to this question is to correct the error/s. However, the process is not as uncomplicated as it appears to be. Factors like social etiquette, status, relationship, time, place and situation can prove to be obstacles for articulating one’s thoughts. It is certainly not a great idea to ruffle feathers of complacency, bruise the egos or jeopardize associations over trivia. On the other hand, donning a poker face on such occasions can cause considerable mental strain.
Since it is a Herculean task to opine without coming across as conceited, I learned the art of to keeping my opinions to myself, unless it is sought for. Yet, I must confess that there have been occasions when I have spoken out of turn, much to the chagrin of others.
Once I happened to enter a hall where some people were discussing a poem animatedly. We acknowledged one another and they continued their dialogue on my pet subject. Their interpretation seemed to be off the mark. My latent antenna picked it up. I interjected unceremoniously with my eager elucidation. Stoic silences and stolid stares punctuated the place. Though the situation normalized subsequently, I was disturbed for a long time.
This time around, I vowed to find an answer to my dilemma. The universe sent me a response through an authority on mythological paintings. I broached her with my prize question. She recounted an incident. Long ago, she had attended a talk on Tibetan art, culture and cuisine. Soon after, they were shown a mural of a goddess and were told that it was Saraswathi. Our lady who was an expert on the subject, recognised it as goddess Manjushree. She gently whispered her finding to her husband. The suave, westernised fellow guests who noticed her engaging in a private conversation were put off by her temerity.
The speaker, who noticed her patronizingly encouraged her to share her thoughts aloud. She was a trifle embarrassed but soon she gathered herself and pointed out the anomaly. She explained the similarities and differences between the two deities. The speaker touted as the master on the subject was caught on the wrong foot. The murmurs among the audience created displeasure to the organisers who did not know much on the subject. An awkward silence prevailed as the speaker wound up his lecture unceremoniously. The crowd dispersed. Our knowledgeable lady found herself in a quandary because she "Knew"!
It took her a lot of time to understand that she had not blundered, she only shared what she had learned through her extensive studies. However, the people with half baked knowledge and bloated egos could not digest her forthright dissemination of her ken.
Then, she realised that it was not in her power to change the mindsets or responses of people during a short association. Sooner or later they would realise that she had merely stated a fact. So she decided to adhere to the Gandhian principle and “be the change she wanted to see.”
Then on she would make corrections wherever necessary and accept her mistakes gracefully more conscientiously than ever before. Her resolve clarified my predicament and has hopefully left me a better person.