Because Everyone Does!

It’s 8.30 in the morning. You are at a traffic signal. There is a taxi on your left, a car on your right and a BEST bus behind you. There are two bikes on your extreme left. The signal is red. Everyone’s gunning the accelerator, waiting to race ahead. There is no oncoming traffic and no car or pedestrian blocking your way.
Suddenly one of the bikers zooms ahead breaking the signal. As if on cue, the taxi on your left starts rolling as well. You are still wondering what to do, when the BEST bus behind starts honking incessantly and the car on your right starts inching forward a little tentatively.
The signal is still red.
Except for you, everyone is now on the move, in effect breaking the signal while it’s still red. You have now two choices. You can wait another 10-15 seconds, looking like a fool who plays by the rules, or you can be like everyone else and go with the flow and the crowd.
It is a choice you have. You will not lose anything if you wait for those 15 seconds. You will not gain anything breaking the red signal.
What do you do?
We all know the answer. The vast majority of us will go with the flow. And if questioned by your young son next to you who has been taught in school that breaking signals is wrong, you will say, “but everyone does it”, or rationalize it by saying “it’s OK at 8.30 in the morning.”
The last time I wrote a related piece, a reader wrote in to explain to me the difference between corruption and dishonesty of need and of greed. This example fits neither category. And yet it defines who we are as a people.
We are who we are. We love subverting rules and stretching them. We may be fed up with corruption as a concept, but we live the lie every single day and moment of our lives.
And then, when someone promises us a corruption-free nirvana-land, we jump on the bandwagon, unquestioning. As if a new law that brings or doesn’t bring the Prime Minister under its purview will change anything, while we continue to be who we are! (If you want a more detailed and serious understanding of the issues with the Lokpal bill, please read Gautam Patel’s lovely piece in yesterday’s edition of this paper).
But it’s nice to sometimes delude ourselves and hope that something thrust upon us will hopefully change us since we can’t or don’t want to make the effort to do so ourselves.
Hence quick fixes and solutions aimed at “others” become popular and populist, when the problem really is within us! And a thousand Anna Hazares and Lokpal bills are not going to be able to fix that.
PS: In a lighter vein! I came across a blog written by a Poonam, who hates my column and the issues I write about. Though there are a few others like her, most just send emails saying “you are an ***hole” and add a few more choice swearwords. This lady however took the time to pen this “And if I may add, he writes like a man who has digested a handful of words and puked it out on his final draft. Invariably, those words form sentences that seem so ridiculously low in standard that they un-seemingly appear to be leaving his body from a place far south of his mouth.” When someone takes this much effort, it’s really a compliment, backhanded as it may be!

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