I happened to meet Amish, bestselling author of The Shiva Trilogy, in a literature festival. And one thing I saw was that he was damn nice. Hordes of people approached him for his autograph, and he greeted every one of them with a “Hi, how are you?”, gave them autographs, and honoured all personal requests. He smiled genuinely for every photo people clicked with him.
But not all of those people we admire are like that, are they? Cocky, and often unnice celebs are all around. In fact it’s hard to find a footballer who isn’t one. And there are many who go beyond that: Suarezes who bite players, Justin Beibers who spit on their fans.
For many of these people, if the question was, say “Is he a good player?”, the answer might be yes. But if the question was “Is he good?”, what would the answer be? There are people who would reject him for his ill character and say “No.” There are fans that would say you shouldn’t judge an artist by their personal life, and say “Yes.” And then there are people like me who would be like “I don’t know.”
For those of us who aren’t already opined, we need to understand the question first to try and arrive at an answer. Of what quality is the goodness being evaluated of? Of what he is. And that raises the question of identity. What is he? What makes him who he is?
At first sight, it might seem like a player’s identity is their game, an artist’s their art. If that was the case, that would mean it’s not right to judge a professional by their personal life. But how true is it?
All of us scorn upon separatist politics. We believe that people are not to be divided by religion, and communalism is bad, evil even. Even if not all of us, most of us share these beliefs, I believe. But all of us have our own religious beliefs, atheist or theist. And I could argue that unless we are all religiously neutral, we are communal.
So what makes a muslim who is simply religious different from a muslim voter who votes on basis of religion? What makes a religious hindu different from hindu who is partial to those of his religion? Is there any difference at all?
This would be the best way to understand identity. Both the muslims are religious, but for the first one, religion is not his primary identity. Both the hindus are religious, but for the first one, religion is not what he defines others based on.
Of course, there can be no right or wrong opinions. But there can be more humane and less humane opinions. What is it that defines a person? What is a person’s most fundamental identity?
The person’s humanity, I’d say. Everyone of us is a human first, everything else next. Our first identity is humanity, and maybe then comes gender, nationality, and stuff like that. I don’t think Religion should even make it to the list.
I guess that brings us close to the answer to the original question. We could read “Is he good?” as “Is he a good human?”. And that wouldn’t be very difficult to answer.
But of course, that does not mean such people should just be rejected. They still make amazing artists and invaluable players. And if someone makes great songs, maybe it does not matter much if the artist is a jerk.
And after all, if not for the jerks, you wouldn’t know the value of the nice ones. You wouldn’t be able to appreciate the good people.
Do you agree with me? Do leave a comment below. And by the way, sorry