In this age of reason, where rationality prevails emotion, one is bound to think, reflect and act in ways that are logical and sensible to the society. If we go a little back in history, starting from Socrates to Descartes, Russell, Kant, Popper, all have emphasized on reason and rationality. But where has this rationality taken us? We still see, bombings and killing of thousands of innocent people every day. In Pakistani culture, we see mobbing, suicide bombers, killing for just an idea which is rooted in emotions and as Freud would say in the Id. Hence, the first question I ask is that what has reason taught us? If rationality could not teach us to be humans, and be empathetic, then what would?
In my perspective, rationality is an illusionary idealistic jewel that we all want to have and run towards it. Once we think we have it, it doesn’t look as glamorous as it looked from far away. Forcing oneself to be always rational in decision making making a fool out of our pitiful egos. Enrolling students into educational systems that are collapsing due to its strict binary and prejudiced approaches, we think we are on a path of rationality. Even if for a second we think reason is superior to all other factors that affect our perspective, think of the people who are very well educated, yet, complexed and struggling with their egos, always uncertain and vulnerable to their fears. Rationality is a manuscript created to silence the madness in us and suppress our intellectual powers. It looks like a rational decision to spend tons and tons of money on clothing on blessed Friday, because in a way, you have a chance to save a lot, but is serving an industry that thrives on the weaknesses of the masses called rationality? Do we understand that? No, because it blessed Friday!
Even a schizophrenic as labelled by the society, is not rational in our books or in our minds, because they see what we do not see. They hear what we do not hear. Hence, we entitle them as mad, yet again, serving our earnings to a huge industry of psychiatry. One could argue that Schizophrenia is a mental disorder as described by DSM V, well so was being a gay, described as a mental disorder until, we came to accept that gender and sexual preferences are on a continuum. What if the schizophrenics, tied up in the hospitals are the ones who really see the truth, and we are the ones, entangled in a war of rationality vs irrationality, right vs wrong, anarchist vs non-anarchist, religious vs non-religious.
The big question to ask here is, whether we introspect enough to know the difference between social conformity and the illusion of rationality. A man of reason is a man of madness indeed. Did we all not call Manto mad? Who is now praised for his work? Perhaps he was ahead of his time, but we all labelled him as mad, irrational and shameless. This example also raises questions to what we are doing today as a nation, especially with our education system which is still carrying the legacies of colonial ideologies and is still only imposing western ideologies as the most fundamental. Do we not have a culture of our own? Do we not have philosophers, scientists, musicians, poets, languages, art of or own that needs to be studied? Are the westerners the only ones with better knowledge and skill? Can we not look into our education system that emphasizes on specialization and good grades? For once, we need to look outside this confined system and think of innovative ways to install education. Education is not about the books or the degree. It is about being a human of reason, intellect, creativity, loyalty and curiosity to learn and humanness which I call empathy. These ideas are all killed as soon as an individual is enrolled in an educational institute. Instead of expanding the horizon, it restricts the individual, pressuring into getting good grades and thinking that somebody who has good academic standing, is more rational than anybody else. These systematic orders of our society are driving the young population crazy. Look at the student suicide rates in US, all out of pressure and competence. Oh dear lord, how did we ever get so robotic?
What about the mad ones? What about those who are ahead of our time? We kill them. By our self-imposed ideas. Because we cannot stand that a mad man communicates through abstract reason, emotion, contains a physical order and approaches through higher consciousness. In this age of reason, perhaps, we need to redefine our understanding education. Perhaps we need to be more conscious of social conformity, and give room to those who are screaming for it, but are shunned by us, day in and night out. Perhaps we need to be more sensitive to how systematically, our thoughts are governed not by us, but by ideas that others place in our minds. Perhaps we need to be more empathetic to ourselves and for once, listen to our hearts. Perhaps we should reduce our prejudice against non-reason and for once listen to the voice within. For once, let ourselves free and let others be free.