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Conquer condescension

Habits die hard as we often find ourselves totally oblivious to the fact that we are engaging in acondescending action or conversation. Motives behind may be exhaustive, yet to beware of.

An upper hand in knowledge and understanding should enable us to empower people with thesame, not ridicule their lack of it. The ever popular film ‘My Fair Lady’, offers us a practicalinsight into the ways of the upper crust in society to those of the less endowed.

The Professor,Henry Higgins means well when he attempts to turn the flower seller into a ‘lady’ fit to fool thegentry despite her humble origin. Never mind that Eliza Dolittle his student, is a lady alright, butwithin her social connotation of the term, not that of the Professor.

Like him, we have beenschooled to be condescending, when a suitable socially unacceptable ‘mismatch’, comes ourway.

Reminds me of a tale once told me describing the ‘crab’ habit. A basket of crabs was exported,yet it remained uncovered.

“How come they don’t escape”, enquired the recipient. Pat camethe reply, “No worries, because if one even tries, he’ll be pulled back down”. Metaphorically,we too can behave similarly. We can ‘put people in their place’ – a space perceived by ussuitable for their worth as determined by us. What would be marvelous instead is to conquerthis temptation to slight another, to take a jibe at another’s presumed incompetence orattitude.

Instead ‘providing a leg up’, treating such people on parity, accepting their right to equity in society, would be admirable. 

Condesenscion, though rarely, can on occasion lead to a challenging response from the recipient to prove the condescending person wrong. Eliza Dolittle did so, but in the bargain at what cost to her self esteem, her ego often bruised by the seemingly bullying and self centred Professor Higgins.

He aimed only to fulfil his objective, perhaps oblivious of the fact he was trampling on the human feelings of this vulnerable young lady. At the end of it, where did she belong, was her doubt, as is with many of us… In the ultimate analysis, condesenscion doesn’t reward either the giver or receiver.

(Published 29 October 2023, 22:38 IST)

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