Every individual needs the chance to reform
By Mahesh Bhardwaj
Judging people on the basis of their past behaviour and track record has been a contentious and subjective debate. The general tendency is to use the other person’s previous deeds, good or bad, as reference, while interacting or giving opinion about them. To a certain extent this approach may be all right, as one needs to know the background as they might repeat their past conduct in the future also.
There is no harm in dealing cautiously with people of doubtful credentials, as ignoring their past may cause harm and land everyone in trouble. Here, the age of the person at the time of committing misdeed or crime is significant and needs to be kept in mind because people’s behaviour changes very often as one grows older and in different circumstances and places. Any act done at a young age, foolishly and unintentionally, may be unthinkable by the same individual at a later stage in his life. He might sincerely regret his past deeds and wish never to repeat it.
Not everyone is capable of transforming his behaviour so easily. There is no fuss when track record-based assessments are made about average people. At the same time, history is full of examples of people who reformed themselves beyond recognition – criminals become reformed, a failure becomes successful, the ordinary becomes extraordinary and so on.
In recent times, many successful and celebrated people have risen from very ordinary and humble backgrounds. Their number is increasing fast, be it in business, politics, sports, yoga, spirituality or any other field of life. People with a rigid mindset have problems with this kind of a phenomenon as their criteria of judging people is based primarily on past acts, background and lineage. This trend is not being digested easily by them and therefore, when they talk and deal with first generation achievers, they are generally prejudiced by their pre-conceived notions. When such biased opinion is spread about people whose background had not been so great but who demonstrated their tremendous abilities to transform, the assessment becomes contentious and unfair. This kind of transformation in human behaviour seeks special attention and deliberation.
This happens because generally, this is beyond the imagination of the ordinary mind to realise the ability and capability of extraordinary minds ,who are capable of transforming their past persona for the better. They are bestowed with the ability and capability of evolving from worse to best.
Several convicts serving time for heinous crimes are found engaged in reforming fellow prisoners. This aspect of human potential, to change for the better, gives a chance for inherent human goodness to reveal itself. A humane approach expects us to show faith in the inherent goodness of humankind.
We must try and understand that every person possesses, for sure, some good attributes and we need to give due weightage to this fact, while dealing with them. This is possible by having an open-minded approach and by not abandoning those people permanently, whose past acts had been undesirable. Optimism and encouragement can cultivate or recover goodness in deviant humans.
Tomorrow is another day. We must always keep in mind that life is one, and every person needs to be given the opportunity to reform and improve himself.
The writer is an officer of Indian Police Service, posted with the National Human Rights Commission
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.