Dear Ornetters,

In the hustle and bustle of our day-to-day life, sometimes we tend to forget the influence of the society in our life. Our upbringing was shaped by the environment around us and our behavior is just a reflection of that. All our actions and reactions are controlled by this great invisible force.

"Well, I am very much aware of that", you say. But are you?

Take a moment to read today's article. You shall find out.

It is a great pleasure on my part to present this weekend's author, Radhakanta Mahapatra from Huntsville, Alabama. The greatness of his article is its simplicity and boldness.

The reviewers, Suajata Pradhan and Arun Patnaik, have also spoken very eloquently on the subject. I thank them for their time and help.

surjit Republic Day, Jan.26, 1996.

Self Introduction

I am Radhakanta Mahapatra. I was born in Orissa. I lived in many different places including Boudh, Berhampur, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, and Rourkela. I claim Cuttack to be my home town. After completing my college education I had a chance to spend a few years outside Orissa. That was a very valuable experience. I learnt a lot about the culture and tradition of people from other states. One of the motivations for me to come to this country was to see this land and to experience the people of this land. I live in Huntsville, Alabama with my wife Puspa. I teach Management Information Systems at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Do You Like My Sun-glasses?

Our views of life, our goals and aspirations, our sense of accomplishment and failure, of good and evil are influenced, to a great extent, by the society in which we grow up. When we look at the world around us we don't see the real world, but the one that we are predisposed to see. We are all wearing sun-glasses of different colors, which we have built for ourselves with the help of the society. These sun-glasses are grafted into us like the Kabacha and Kundala of Karna. Our vision is colored all the time, whether we like it or not. When we judge a person, we may think that we are using absolute standards of truth and righteousness. But often the standards are tempered by our own value system, which have developed based on our experience.

People in this world wear sun-glasses of many different shades. We feel perfectly at home with those who wear our brand of sun-glasses. We may tolerate the company of those who wear a slightly different shade of the same brand. We are repulsed by those who wear a totally different brand. We also have a tendency to think that we are the only ones that use designer sun-glasses and the rest of the world uses generic brands from Walmart. We try to convert others to our superior viewpoint. The shades of our sun-glasses also change with time and create generation gap.

The lack of tolerance for other's viewpoint is a primary cause of many conflicts in our society. Republicans don't tolerate democrats. Hindus and Muslims can't coexist peacefully. Shaivites fight with Vaishnavites. Even within our small ORNET community members don't hesitate to use unkind words while commenting on other's views. We build institutions to foster friendship and harmony in the community. We turn them into battle grounds when some members don't like the shade of the sun-glasses of other members.

The world perhaps would be a better place if we remain aware of our sun-glasses. When we have differences in opinion with someone, instead of criticizing we may try to understand the color of his/her sun-glasses vis-a-vis ours. That would enable us to see a different facet of the truth. No one can perceive the absolute truth, because, unlike Karna, we will go to our graves (or crematorium) with our glasses.

Reviewer one is Sujata Pradhan.

I must congratulate the author on an exceptionally well written piece. It is an article written with admirable poise, grace and acuity. Short and Sharp. Clear and concise. No beating around the bushes. AND no insensitive beating up on anyone else for that matter!

The author has made a very prudent observation that we are just but the anthology of our exclusive experiences and compendium of our culture. But that there is a big big world outside our sphere of existence and experience.

He does no bashing as such (and very admirably) of anyone for having a tinted view of life, colored with the colors of ones "Aaap-Beeti". He does not make one out to be a sinner to be wearing a pair of sunglasses and think that one is wearing the coolest pair on earth.

But with great humility (to his credit) puts forth that all we need to do is be cognizant of the fact that we ourselves are wearing, however cool those might be, a pair of sunglasses. Nothing is absolute. He does not ask us not to have discussions and difference of opinions. But just that we be tolerant and respectful of others viewpoints and lives. And that we should not try to judge everyone or second-guess others values and happiness. We, with our limited micro-minuscule of experience, should not try to become the yardstick for the whole world.

I must add that he spoke my mind, just with better demeanor, greater accuracy, more poise and superior eloquence. A very very very commendable piece indeed.

And may I add - by a great human being?


Review two is by Arun Patnaik.

At the outset let me congratulate the author on the clear and concise message he has been able to convey through this very well written article.

I agree with the author that most of our ideas or outlooks are formed by the environment in which we grow. I think it was Bernard Shaw who said "Commonsense is the nonsense we learn before we are 18".

And yes, the world would be a much better place if we could just stop judging each other on our own scales. This is exactly what the wife of chandragupta said to chaNakya, 'Stop measuring others on your own scale'. Well a scale is another analogy for what the author has used, the 'sun-glasses'. This is what we use for measuring almost everything in our lives, the achievements, happiness, the sorrow and the sufferings and so on, and often we use this to measure others.

Although, I feel contact lenses would probably be a better analogy, as they are transparent, we and others around are often unaware of their presence. If you observe life closely, you would find that most people cannot understand how others could behave the way they do. This is due to the lack of awareness of such a thing like the 'sun-glass' the author talks about. I hope this article will have its effect on some of us in making us aware of our own sun- glasses. Once we are aware of this as something we have 'put on' and not something 'inseparable' from us, we can sometimes try to see the world around with our clear eyes or try some other brands for a change.

I disagree with the author that we will go to our graves with our glasses. Also there is nothing called 'absolute truth'. Truth is a relative term, we just fix it to simplify matters(!). So friends do not get disheartened by the view that we can't take off our glasses, I am sure once we are aware of them as a cosmetic covering, we will be able to take it off or at least nullify it's effect on our lives. So let's start the process of understanding this fact from now on and make this world a better place.

Lastly I would thank the author for bringing up such an important topic in a very simple manner, and remind us of our sun-glasses.

*---Just The Beginning---*

Your comments are always welcome...

Radhakanta Mahapatra

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