Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Game of Hierarchy...

Under the influence of my very old habit of keenly observing the people around me, I have often wondered… do people submit to oppression easily ? The immediate response to this question comes as an obvious ‘NO’. No they don’t.

Unless there is this issue of hierarchy involved.

Hierarchies… we are simply surrounded by the concept in our daily lives. Be it the workplace or relationships, it is rare for a person to escape the effects of hierarchy. Effects which are mostly (if not always) negative. Negative though, for the one who is placed at a lower level in the ladder of hierarchy. Whereas, the so called superior enjoys the benefits of this very ladder of hierarchy.

A daughter-in-law quietly tolerates the whims of her mother-in-law. An assistant lives by the commands of the boss at work. A ‘junior’ college student is ruled by the ‘seniors’. Hierarchy works almost everywhere.

But what is it that drives those placed low in the hierarchy submit so meekly to those placed higher up ? From the looks of it, the very obvious answer would be the need for survival. To maintain a peaceful relationship with the in-laws. Or the necessity to keep holding on to the job. Or the so called benefits to be had from the ‘experienced’ seniors.

All the above reasons seem very logical. But beneath this practice of observing the protocols of hierarchy, there exists a sense of anticipation. The anticipation to grab the powerful position one day and exercise it over one’s future subordinates.

Very recently, I was witness to a cultural program at a government medical college. The highlight of the show was a small skit by the first year students who portrayed the life of a ‘fresher’ which also included the menace of ragging by the seniors. And as the students acting as seniors abused and threatened the ones acting as the ‘freshers’, it extracted a big applause from the entire audience including many professors watching the show who seemed to enjoy it very much.

Maybe they remembered their own days of harassment at the hands of their ‘superiors’ which eventually made way for the happy days when they were able to harass their own subordinates. It appeared to be a sweet recall of the pain and then the pleasure. And the bliss of revenge.

I have always found it strange how someone can cozy up to the very person who abused them physically, mentally or verbally. How people are able to befriend and ‘respect’ those who harassed them just a few days back ? It never did sum up as per my thinking abilities.
But now, it is a lot clearer to me after understanding the ways of hierarchy and the sadistic pleasure it brings once a person has been able to tide over the rough and tough days of being a subordinate. The pleasure of tormenting a subordinate is way too grand for anyone to remember the abuse their abusers meted out to them.

The delusional sense of superiority is good enough to forget the real pain and hurt of inferiority. The cycle continues from being real to being delusional. But as long as it ends on a happy note, people just don’t care.

After all, ‘kyunki saas bhi kabhi bahu thi’ !

(Image Courtesy : Google Images)


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