Mindset - Guide to wrong judgments.
How your perception directs You — Often wrong.
“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. Buddha
On the 22nd of July 2011, Oslo was struck by a very powerful car bomb that went off just next to the Prime Ministers office.
8 people were killed immediately and hundreds were injured. Panic-struck Norwegians started trying to figure out why they have been attacked, why they have been added to the long list of cities that have been attacked by Islamic jihadists.
They searched and they discovered many reasons.
They found that Norway has been contributing troops to the NATO war effort, they found that the Muslim community of Norway had not been properly integrated into society, they also found that just a week before, a Muslim preacher had been indicted for incitement.
While the country was still trying to make sense of this fog of war, there was another attack.
A simultaneous attack happened a couple of hours later in a school summer camp where more than 69 people were shot dead including personal friends of the prime minister and some of the members of the royal family.
And of course, names started popping up like, this had to be a jihadist attack responsibility, Some al-Qaeda, etc.
The names started popping up but ironically it was none of that.
These entire terror attacks were the handiwork of one man whose name was Anders Behring Breivik.
He was a Norwegian and he hated Muslims. He was actually protesting against the multiculturalist policies of the Norwegian government.
On the day of the attacks, Breivik electronically distributed a compendium of texts entitled 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, describing his militant ideology. In them, he stated his opposition to Islam and blamed Feminism for a European “cultural suicide.”
The text called for the deportation of all Muslims from Europe and Breivik wrote that his main motive for the attacks was to publicize his manifesto.
The second story is about this man he goes by the name of Salim Durrani.
He has many names, he operated in the Kashmir valley for about ten years.
He used to move in and out the fences and the boundaries were never a problem for him.
He has a price on his head when he was operating in the valley, and he has been known to be personally responsible for the deaths of close to 3 to 4 dozen young men.
He was also a devout Muslim, prays five times a day. He has his AK-47 next to him like a true warrior each time he prays. Wherever he sleeps, never sleeps in the same place twice, not for two nights in a row.
Salim Durrani was a major serving in the valley from The Indian Army.
This is a picture of him,
Between him, his father, and his grandfather three generations they have contributed eight uniformed services officers into the Indian Armed Forces.
Between them, they hold six Gallantry Awards and two Commendation Cuts.
The young lad that you see sitting on the left, is Salim's son, who
is now planning to join the Indian military academy and continue the family tradition for the fourth generation of service to this country.
Now when I told you these two stories, your mind instantly left to a conclusion, which was wrong.
When I began, you thought of Salim Durrani, as a terrorist.
With words like AK47, Kashmir Valley, your mind jumped to a conclusion, which was wrong.
We do that very often, we take information that is coming to our brain, and we stereotype it, finally creating a strong mindset.
But why do we do that?
Do we do it because we are parochial people, we are petty people, or we
are bad people?
It turns out, we do it because our brains are still evolving. Over millions of years of evolution, it is still incapable of dealing with all these inputs that come to us.
Out of hundreds of inputs that come to us every second, our mind filters them out into some sort of pattern and absorbs those patterns and jumps to a judgment.
let's understand it with a few examples,
Try this math puzzle.
Suppose there are a racket and a ball which together cost 110 rupees.
The racket cost is 100 rupees more than the ball then what is the price of the ball?
Ready with the answer?
Now, all of us who got it like 10rs just witnessed a way in which our brain takes information and jumps to the wrong conclusion.
The correct answer is 5rs.
The price of the ball is 5rs, the price of the racket is 105rs, that is why the racket is 100rs more than the ball, but you heard 110rs, 100rs, and you jumped to a wrong conclusion that the price of the ball was probably 10rs.
And that's the way our
mind works at times.
it just takes 2-3 pieces of data and quickly jumps to a conclusion.
Now the second feature of our way of stereotypical thinking is, we will
usually, think of the worst-case scenario.
That is why Salim Durrani is a terrorist, and not amongst the thousands
of Muslim officers and soldiers, who serve in the Indian Armed Forces.
So here comes the lesson for all of us, see, perceive but don't instantly proceed. Hold on for a minute and think twice.
Why do we do that?
Why do we always gravitate towards the worst-case scenario?
Now the answer to that is also, a human evolution of the
So two elements, one is we jump to judgments, two judgments are usually worst-case scenarios, and the third problem is, with this wrong judgment and worst-case scenarios, we also change physiologically.
Our mind changes, the way we behave biologically.
Let's have another example, how many of you have seen the movie, Black?
How many of you cried during the
If you did cry then ask yourself, why you did it?
Amitabh Bachan is making tons of money, Rani Mukherji is not blind, this is all just happening on screen.
None of what they showed was true but we still cried because our reptilian brain didn't realize the difference between fact and fiction, and started physiologically feeling sad. Physiologically taking decisions in an emotional state of mind.
Now for those of you who didn't see the movie black or were too much or not to cry during the movie, I want you to visualize one more example.
I'm asking you to open your mouth and stick out your tongue. now your tongue has stuck out, your mouth is open, I've got a lemon in my hand, and I'm squeezing that lemon at the tip of your tongue and that juice is going down your........
Hey wait a minute, why are you salivating but?
There is no lemon in my hand. there is no me in front of you either.
But again your reptilian brain doesn't know that. When you hear these words lemon, lime going, you can't stop salivating, right?
Because physiologically, our body changes the way we perform, we behave, we make decisions
based on the wrong information.
Now salivating on an imaginary lemon may be harmless fun, but stereotypes can
be very very dangerous.
People get lynched by mobs because they believe that they've eaten the wrong kind of
meat. Communal riots break out, based on false WhatsApp messages, photoshopped images.
Countries go to war because they believe that another country has got weapons of mass destruction. countries leave alliances, that they have been part of for decades because they believe that immigrants are coming and stealing their jobs, which is incorrect information.
We start looking at every stranger with suspicion and we think that anything that is different from us has to be dangerous.
We start believing that anyone who is not with us, is by definition, against us.
One of the founding principles of our country is the core value of tolerance.
What is the framework that will help us recognize this threat of parochialism and divisiveness?
How do we deal with this problem?
Because if we start believing that anyone who is not with us is against us, then we will start creating a society in a world, where everything is connected to each other but at the same time is extremely divisive.
Wisdom is the ability to hold two contrarian ideas within the same mind and evaluate each one on merit, before coming to a conclusive judgment.
Finally, there is a book from which I want to read out a passage for you,
The fundamental duties of the citizens of India Article 51-A.
"It shall be the duty of every citizen to promote harmony and spirit of brotherhood amongst all people of India transcending religious linguistic regional or sectional diversities."
Now this book, as many of you may have guessed, is The Constitution of India.
It's that book which is holier than every holy book. It is that book on which every soldier, every politician, every bureaucrat, every citizen of India swears his allegiance.
We have been taught to stand up in attention whenever the national flag is unfurled, we teach that to our kids also. We have been taught to stand up in attention whenever the national anthem is played and we teach that also to our kids.
I think its also time for us to sit down and start studying, the fundamentals that are being represented by that flag and by the national anthem. because as the saying goes,
When you are struggling to look for a "new" idea, sometimes it is a good idea to read an "old" book.