Ideal : A conception of something in its absolute perfection.(dictionary.com)
Ideal Man, Ideal Woman, Ideal Human Being, Ideal Politician… ideal..
What does being an ideal mean? Have you ever thought of it? From the olden times to the modern times of twitter, facebook and technological advancements, humans are being bombarded with different concepts of ‘the ideal’. These concepts are forced on us in various ways. Some are internalized through our family , our parents, peers and immediate social networks. Others are thrown at us by the media – the print media, visual media and now the online media. Still others are generated in us by the environment we are exposed to. Which is true? The one we create, the one we are taught to look up to , the one we see others looking up to or the ones we see as society’s standards?
Does this ideal exists? Is this different for different people? How is the ideal influenced by the external factors? Is it fair and realistic to have an ideal before us? Does it not make life difficult if we have ideals whom we are supposed or compelled to adulate and emulate, when it is against out inner self? And yet, if we dont have an ideal, would it not be difficult to create ourselves without a model or example to refer to and to inspire us? I keep thinking and asking these questions all the time, pondering over the questions.
Following or believing in an ideal is both a blessing and a curse. A curse, because anything which does not stand up to the measure of your ideal can be cruelly and unreasonable rejected. This can be translated to the following situations, which takes place in real life also (atleast in India). A potential bride/bridegroom being rejected in the marriage market because of unsatisfactory (according to the potential partner’s) appearance/age/financial status/qualifications, which does not match up to the ideals. A female child being killed at birth or in the womb because femaleness is inferior to maleness ( male being the ideal sex). Favoritism by superiors for their juniors , who match more to their concept of an ideal employee. An overweight person or a person with some defect is treated differently because he does not fit the ideals.The beauty and fashion industry perpetuates the ideal of the beautiful man or woman. A curse, because in the attempts of being faithful to your ideals, you will end up putting a lot of pressure on yourself.Sometimes, the pressure may be reasonable and sometimes, unreasonable. You may end up pressurising others also and compel them to stand up tp your standards.
At the same time, without ideals, the world would be a different place altogether. You would not observe those beautiful works of arts you admire in museums today. Or those beautiful statues. Or those famous historical places. The leaning tower of pisa. The pyramids of Egypt. The Taj Mahal in India. These creations are born as a result of man’s genius juxtaposed with the vision of the perfect and the beautiful.The ideal and the symmetric, the perfect. The absolute miracle of a human baby or any baby for that matter. How, everything has to be come together in the best proportions to give the best results.The trees, forests, animals, organisms, you see around you are all examples of nature’s creativity at its best. They are the fruits of the conceptions of the best possible. The best dishes would not be made possible without an aim at achieving the best possible taste. Art, music, literature, architecture, even politics, nothing can be devoid of a set of ideals. The set of ideals existing in the minds of their creator.
Idealism and reality may find it difficult to co exist together. Our ideas and wishes of what things should be and ought to be can be different from the actuality of things happening. Again, what the world considers us and what we consider ourselves to be are two different things. There is always an inner conflict going on within us as to which one do we want to be. The question is do we follow by the world’s rules or do we follow by our book? Most of the times and for most people, the environment in which they live and the social context constrains them from being independent and from living their own lives and for expressing themselves. The fear that others may not accept you because you think differently from them may be enough to shut you up.
Conversely, the happenings in the real world which are in conflict with our ideals may force some of us to turn a blind eye to the world’s realities and live with self imposed shades of our own ideals. In this case, our ideals serve as as some sort of a defence mechanism to protect us against the pain caused by the external factors. So we keep hanging to and espousing our ideals.
For others, action is more prefereable to thoughts. So they strive to fight rather than torment themselves with thoughts. But then action, without thinking, can have disastrous consequences also. We don’t need to give examples of this. There are examples everyday.
The inner conflicts and confusions and the inner pain can manifest themselves as confused actions on our part , when we play our role in the external world, as contradictions in our statements and behaviours. So, if we need clarity , which should we prioritize and how we should do it? What thoughts can be accepted and what thoughts to be discarded? Should we reject completely the world’s influence or should we consider it with a pinch of salt. Is it possible to rationalise this and make it universal for all. Again this is difficult, because each of us are born with our own world view and so it is difficult to generalise. So, does that mean that if we possess different world views and ideals, we are outcast in each other’s eyes?
Why is it difficult for most of us to accept that we are different in our personalities and our thoughts and that we are independent beings? We are free souls. We have the freedom to think for ourselves, make mistakes, reevaluate, change and grow. We dont need to impose upon others and we dont want others to impose upon us. This brings me to the next question in my mind.
Growth requires changes in attitude and evaluating ourselves and understanding. This is a continuous process. Will growth involve a change in our ideals with time or we will be hanging to the same ones through our lives? I would say our experiences serves as a test of our ideals, whether they are strong enough to stand their ground or weak enough to be demolished. The experiences of others, while enlightening, would not be so impactful as the ones we experience and feel.
When I was younger, I had a fixed set of ideas and ideals, and I retained them for a considerable period of time, even into adulthood. But changes took place at different key points in my life and I did not realise the change in my perceptions and my ideals, till later. One thing I have felt is that amongst ideals, the core and central ideals may remain unchanged. Other ideals may change, may be discarded or replaced.
So Ideals are indelible or changeable. What’s your take on this? ..