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OP-ED: What exactly is normal?

  • Published at 04:15 pm July 4th, 2020
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Is it okay for society to impose the terms?

Humans are often divided into two categories. These so-called “categories” might fall under religion, sex, power, politics, and many more. Interestingly, all these categories are piled up into two different aspects that uphold both the physical and mental structures of mankind. We consider them to be either “normal” or “abnormal.” But, when it comes to crossing the line that does not follow the “normal” rules, we have to ask: Who is to say what is “normal” or “abnormal” here?

In the case of an individual’s life choices, the options are actually limited by society. Society’s role is particularly played by the “higher” community that not only holds power but also uses it against the “inferior” ones. Most of the time, what is “normal” in a community is defined by the people living in the community and, when and if someone decides to deviate from that, the community does not take much time to identify them as “the odd ones out.” 

The idea of imposing what is normal or abnormal here by a community -- which determines all the ones who do not follow the order, all the ones who do not fall into a particular category, all those who are not from that particular country -- is a tendency that defines all possible forms of segregation and discrimination all over the world. 

This creates a fantastical encounter of a human judging another human, and rings true for every human community where, despite being of the same flesh and blood, you are of a different “category” because of your colour, race, gender, religion, economic status -- and the list goes on. 

This duality has created so much limitation for an individual that the world carries multiple numbers of imaginary lines. 

These borders differentiate nations that compete with one another. This is where we get a very interesting sense of what nationalism is and how it works. 

Nationality is analogous to an individual’s identity marker, and the moment that identity is threatened, the concerned individual/community resists. In that vein, Benedict Anderson commented that a nation or a nationality is only “imaginary” since a psychological border between the self and the other always exists, like an inevitable shadow line. Dividing borders also involves dividing your own psyche into the “self” (which is normal) and “the other” (which is not).

Unlike Kundera’s lightness vs heaviness, the dichotomy that I am presenting here is subjective. 

Then again, I am not the one to choose. In simpler words, I am the contestant of a “reality” show judged by the “experienced” and the only possible way to be selected is to follow hegemonic ideas. It really does not matter what I think -- we live to follow and we follow to live.

The duality also comes into play when discussing differentiations in gender. Almost every country believes in gender equality which is broadly written in their respective constitutions. But it is never practised in reality. 

The “distribution” of duties depends on which gender you belong to. Again, the euphemized language sugar-coats the fake promises in such a way that makes it fashionably true for the citizens who do not know the meaning, but fall for the delicious and sophisticated words, full of empty promises.  

Humans have almost always been involved in issues that are petty and insignificant and, as an outcome, are suffering from segregation and differences which are imaginary and made up for the greater cause of the selected few of the community, not the mass people. 

If this goes on, soon, the world will come to a point of departure between the normal and the abnormal, leaving a country to establish yet another separate nation and nationality. 

This is how politics seems to work in this world, not so much “of the people, by the people, for the people” rather “of the kings, by the kings, and for the kings.”

Shahriyer Hossain is a student of English at ULAB.

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