[Story] Mrs. Mehta’s Son Gattu
Son – Dad, How do you define what’s right and what isn’t?
Father – Anything that harms the collective good of living beings is not right.
Son – What if the collective good of a few clashes with the collective good of the majority?
Father – To avoid loss, we should try to find a middle path, if not; the majority has the power to correct the few.
Son – Does it mean the majority is always right?
Father – More or less.
Son – There was a time when the majority felt a woman needs to be burnt alive on her husband’s pyre.
Father – Like I said, more or less.
Son – I expected better, give me a concrete view.
Father – Son, someday you would realise that nothing on this planet is concrete; views change. And so does the perception of right and wrong.
Son – History shows that more often than not, the majority has been proven wrong. Why should I then, listen to what the majority has to say, when I know there is a strong possibility that 50 years from now, the view might change?
Father – Son, certain things are constant. Homicide was wrong 1000 years ago and will still be wrong a 1000 years from now.
Son – What if I say I’m smart enough to commit homicide and get away with it? Will it still be wrong?
Father – Will your conscience permit you to do that?
Son – Let’s say, I don’t have a conscience, how do you define wrong to me now?
Father – Well, You need to fear God’s wrath. You might get away with it now, but God will certainly find a way to punish you for your sins.
Son – We were talking about right and wrong, why does God have to enter the discussion?
Father – Because God is the eternal truth, Son. We follow his laws. One who doesn’t love God, or respect his laws, can never know the difference between right and wrong. Such a person will certainly get punished.
Son – You mean, all these ethics and codes that we follow, have all been passed on to us by God?
Father – By all means, Yes.
Son – But you just said views change. Does it mean God isn’t sure of his own views?
Father – God’s laws are constant. Humans tinker with them for their own selfish motives.
Son – I’m confused. What do we follow, then? God’s laws or Human’s laws? How do we differentiate one from the other?
Father – You don’t need to. Just stay away from harming others and you would know you are on the right track.
Son – You mean to say, if I choose to harm others, and am in a position where no human can punish me for it, God would punish me.
Father – Yes, if not on earth, then in hell and in your next birth.
Son – Dad please be serious. I thought we were having a rational conversation. Let’s limit the possibilities to the human world only.
Father – Son, let’s get this straight, you can’t have any discussion about human actions without discussing God.
Son – Dad, please for my sake, promise me that you will at least make an attempt to be open to my views too.
Father – Ok, proceed.
Son – Look at this ant. I’m standing on its path and it has to get on my feet to reach the other side. I shake my leg; it gets scared and bites me. My natural reaction is to hit it. And I do. So it gets killed. My natural reaction could have also been to carefully remove it from my feet, but it isn’t. And you know me, I love every creature equally. Yet my first reaction was to kill it. Does it mean we humans are inherently bad?
Father – There is God inside all of us. The good inside us is the God. But we humans, with our malice, anger and jealousy make it very difficult for that good to display itself. Why do we say there is more God inside a child? Because there is more good inside a child.
Son – I beg to differ. A child is a true animal. We nurture it into a human. How many children take care of their toys? How many smile when you love another child in front of them? How many would happily give you their food? In short, a child is a destructive, jealous and mean creature. And yet you say there is more God in them.
Father – Well, that’s because you can easily make children repent and correct them. That is the God.
Son – Have you and mother been corrected?
Father – By God’s grace, yes.
Son – Then why is it so difficult to give a genuine smile when a neighboring kid scores more than me? Isn’t that jealousy? Why is it so difficult for you and mother to not spend a single day without getting into a fight? Isn’t that too much anger?
Father – Look Son, we humans are complex creatures. There is no absolute good or absolute bad. Your mother and I are no different. What matters is, we strive to be as good as possible.
Son – That’s exactly what I wanted to hear. You strive to be. All humans strive to be. There is no inbuilt goodness inside us.
Father – ……………………
Son – When there is no inherent goodness, I think we should leave God aside, and make it a completely human mission to be good.
Father – ……………………
Son – And as you rightly said, Goodness is making sure you harm none. And if someone chooses to go against that, well, God certainly won’t stop them. Humans will. And if someone is cunning enough to get away with something bad, I guess we just need to accept that Morality is restricted only to the ones who abide by it.
Father – Why even ask me if you know it all?
Son – Because I have my doubts too.
Father – That’s why you need to keep your faith in God and you’ll see all your doubts vanish.
Son – Dad, There is no God.
Father – Enough with the blasphemy, concentrate on your studies now.
Son – But, Dad…
Mother ( Back from her evening walk ) – Did you know Mrs. Mehta’s son Gattu got 100 in Maths. When was the last time you scored above 90 in any subject ??
Son – ………………………………………………………