Mental Barriers

Mental barriers

It is true that we are our own worst enemies. We are short sighted, presuming beings and we bring up our children to be even more short-sighted and presuming. We mark the territory for them in which we believe they will be safe. Most of us wouldn’t admit it to ourselves, but we are all caged animals afraid of what lies beyond the bars that limit us. The few of us whose curiosity overcomes our fear merely widen our cages carefully, in an exploratory manner. We do not demolish those bars even when we dream of breaking free and flying away.

Who would or should dare judge us? Who is right; those of us who are blissfully ignorant of our bars and so continue to exist within the cages of religion, culture, morality and all kinds of dogmas comfortably? Theirs (the blissfully ignorant) is a survival instinct and a defensive mechanism so elementary and animalistic that they are not aware of what they do not know. They simply exist. They know not that they are caged or barred and so are incapacitated to imagine a world different to theirs. They cannot be wrong because they are protecting themselves from the dangers of the unknown without knowing. Are they right, in ignoring (albeit unconsciously) the unknown and therefore protecting the state that they are in?

Or are those of us who are aware that there might be a world, knowledge beyond what we have seen and heard and even believed, yet are too careful to venture outside, are we more right than wrong? These careful seekers have devised ways of enlarging their cages, cubic meter at a time, to carefully explore the ‘new’ they have newly allowed into their comfort boxes. Who knows what would await them if they knocked down the walls? They hunger for knowledge even as they take a step back at the first sign of unfriendly (read foreign) territory. They take knowledge in tiny bites, just enough to satisfy their palettes and still convince themselves that, were they to peek into a mirror, they would still recognise themselves. There is a comfort in lack of change, in rhythm. Are they more right because they are able to be curious, or are they wrong because their curiosity lacks courage? Are they right because by exercising this balancing act, they preserve themselves despite their hunger and search for knowledge? They do not leave their cages, they merely enlarge them.

There are those rare few that completely break down their cages and escape. They fly and once in a while, for we, both caged and free are social beings, look down on us with hauteur and pity and carefully practised patience. They make us feel small and we see them as oddities. They are mad and they are freaks. We do not understand them for they speak of things that do not, cannot exist, to us and to the ideologies that we have allowed to encase us. They are free beings. Their hunger consumes them and the more they see, the more they hunger. They gobble down every ounce of knowledge and they seek more. They change. Their forms and figures metamorphose so that when we look at them, we do not see us. They are not one of us. They become creatures of the great unknown that some of us crave for and some of us fear. Are they wrong because they whored their ‘true’ selves to foreign truths? Are they right because they dared quell their hunger? Are they wrong for leaving the fold, for being careless with themselves and their safety, to search for ‘mere’ satisfaction and for answers that send them looking for more answers? Are they right or wrong, for choosing freedom of thought?

These are just three classifications of humankind. In truth, among these three groups are smaller groups between each two groups (if we were to visualise them lineally). Some of us search with eyes, looking beyond the bars, beyond our cages of ideaology and yet move not an inch. Some of us take sticks and poles and probe beyond the ‘safety’ of bars, or we break down the cages, fly for a while and decide comfort is much better. So we turn back and erect new cages. We touch the bars and their solidity gives us comfort. We ignore the little voices in our minds asking why, and how, because listening would mean hunger, hunger would mean leaving comfort and venturing out. We could find our answers out there or we could perish. Or we could find answers that would bring more questions. We could be seeking and searching forever. What we are could be beyond right or wrong. It could simply ‘be’.

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