Sunday, May 30, 2010

It's not easy, being different

A few days back, I accidentally ended up watching "Chocolat".  Overall, a light film about a young mother who arrives at a new village with her young daughter and opens a small chocolate shop.  The film details how slowly she begins to impact / change the lives of people around her.  Initially, there is resistance from the Mayor (& society), but ultimately she wins the affection of the people.

Towards the end, when the priest gives up and says -
Listen, here's what I think. I think that we can't go around... measuring our goodness by what we don't do. By what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude. I think... we've got to measure goodness by what we *embrace*, what we create... and who we include ...

... I remembered about the happenings in olden days when people got excluded - layer upon layer - kind of structure etc. I also remembered Sairam and his extra-ordinary love for his devotees (HE calls them "little sparrows" whom HE pulls to Shirdi) - no exclusion - only inclusion...

When the Mother says - "'s not easy, being different" and the little daughter asks her Mom - ".. why can't you wear black shoes like the other mothers..", I instantly recollected the discussion (about stereotypes) in a recent training programme which I underwent.  The power of society to enforce conformity to societal norms, is intense.  Not all can withstand the pressure. 

Even in organisations, there is intense pressure to conform - "this is our way of doing the work" or "this isn't the way we do things here".
Somehow, I could never reconcile to blindly doing something just because someone has done it in the past - a periodical examination of the circumstances / background / work / process etc, can possibly throw interesting ideas and new ways to do work in a more effective way.  
I should admit that over the years, my power to experiment (and take risks) have gone down.  Now, I am comfortable, with even incremental changes, that come after a thorough study of pros and cons.