Few days ago, I happened to read an article on self-image and real-image in the Hindu. Self-image could be defined as the image I have of myself. The countries, organizations, communities, groups too have their own self image. The individuals and groups want others us to view them as they are. A positive self-image is associated with self-esteem. Everybody like a positive self-image before others. It is all the more true with groups. The entire catholic community would like to have a good opinion before other groups.
Rajeev Bhargava argues that real image of self is different from self-image. It is true that I know the most about my self, but there are some areas of me, which I don’t know. The famous Johari window is a good example for this. When we analyze the real image of a group and self-image of the group, there could be wide gap. As the group becomes larger and heterogeneous, the gap also grows.
It is in the best interest of an individual that one should try to accept the real image. But when we speak about groups, the dynamics is all the more difficult. Here the acceptance requires the blessings of the majority or the powerful in the group.
The countries project themselves as harmonious and friendly for the sake of investments and other benefits. But how far, as a group, they able to accept weaknesses, struggles, tensions? Even if not proclaimed everywhere, whether corrective actions be taken? The journey from projected self-image to the real image is mostly anti-establishment, which will face strong opposition from the powerful.
One modern example of a leader, who have shown guts to accept the real image of his organization is Pope Francis. He says the church and all the leaders have to become more-Christ like. He is opposing the clericalism present in the church. He pledged to do more against sexual abuse. Like Christ, he is doing and speaking more for the vulnerable sections of the society. Like the previous Popes, he has asked forgiveness for the crimes committed in the name of church. He calls the church to become more inclusive.
Another powerful example comes from the Georgetown University in USA. “In order to come to terms with the sale of 272 slaves to two Louisiana businessmen in 1838, Georgetown University and the Jesuits of Maryland should offer a formal apology and enact a series of reforms. They include renaming buildings, offering financial aid to the descendants of those slaves and committing new academic resources to study the impact of slavery on campus and in wider society today.” The university has accepted all those and initiated most of the proposals.
John Rawl’s theory of ‘justice as fairness’ has 2 principles. First is that everybody should have maximum liberty; the only criterion being it shouldn’t impinge on others’ freedom. Second and the more interesting one is that unequal opportunities could be provided if it will help the worst-off in the society. Reservations in India is a direct example of the 2nd principle though I have differences in the way it is implemented. But it is the evidence of the guts of our founding fathers to accept the real image caused by the historical wrongs committed against them.
There are many more examples in the history of religions, countries, tribes, associations who have shown guts to accept the real-image and to do reparation for the injustice committed against its own members or non-members. In this age of extreme nationalism, exclusivity and image-branding, this is difficult. But without undertaking such tasks, peace and harmony won’t be possible.