Tears rolls down the cheek when we chop onion. It signifies nothing but a physical abnormal situation where body is not able to adjust the inimical environment. When you cry in memory of any loved one you have lost then it may be an expression of profound grief and sadness. Animal psychologist have described and documented crying apes, elephants and even camels but it is only humans that produce emotional tears. The crying behaviors persist in human into adulthood – from cradle to last breath. Charles Robert Darwin, the most famous English geologist and naturalist best known for his contributions to evolutionary theory had expressed little concern in re tears. “We must look at weeping as an incidental result, as purposeless as the secretion of tears from a blow outside the eye,” he wrote in 1872. I appreciate another theory that claims tears are natures bulwark to keep the eye moist and free of harmful bacteria.
However, the incident of yesterday when the Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur grew emotional in his presence of PM Modi while lamenting government “inaction” in raising the number of judges from 21,000 to 40,000 to handle mounting cases, saying, “You cannot shift the entire burden on the judiciary.”
With due regards to the august office of Judiciary, I’m sadly stressed as the scenario reflects a pathetic situation under the penumbra of three pillars or Indian democracy – Executive, Judicial and Legislative. All of them enmasse failed to tackle the problem till date. The picture of a lamenting Chief Justice is hardly a reassuring and confident building in the photo frame of nation’s history. Big boys act, they don’t cry!
According to the Dutch psychologist Vingerhoets – “Tears are highly symbolic. They signal helplessness, especially during childhood when humans are at their most vulnerable.” Dr. Vingerhoets’ expertise is in the areas of stress, emotions, and quality of life. His special interest is devoted to specific themes like crying and stress and leisure, as well as the development of new assessment tools to measure quality of life. He published more than 300 articles in (inter)national scientific journals and wrote/edited 19 books.
In his new book, ‘Why Only Humans Weep,’ Vingerhoets argues that none of these explanations is sufficient. Crying is not only associated with the human need for attachment, tears can also be moral, signifying our sympathy with an injustice. Often our tears catch us unawares, prompting us to become upset where perhaps no upset is called for. In such cases, it seems, tears are mother to the emotion rather than the other way round. Tears are less important when you are alone because there is no one to witness them. But while we may prefer to cry in the presence of friends and family, this need not be the case. As the pious tears shed by monks in contemplation of God attest, we can also shed tears for distant and highly symbolic attachment figures. What counts, it seems, is the feeling that our helplessness is being acknowledged.
The psychologists usually consider that tears, laughter, tantrums, and trembling aren’t emotions. These are outward signs of abrupt shifts in neuro-physiology. They’re triggered by the change from sympathetic to parasympathetic functioning.
Psychiatrists advice that as long as tears are flowing freely, you don’t have to do anything. You might offer a tissue or gesture toward the tissue box. Anything more can be intrusive and counterproductive. Avoid to delegitimize the person’s tears.
The very much moved Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to look into the long-pending demand of the judiciary regarding an increase in the number of judges to reduce the burden of increasing cases. He said whatever the compulsions of the past, the matter needs to be looked into. Mr Modi, who was not scheduled to speak as per the program circulated by the law ministry, said, “I can understand his (CJI’s) pain as a lot of time has lapsed since 1987. Whatever have been the compulsions, but it’s better to be late than never. We will do better in the future. Let us see how to move forward by reducing the burden of the past.”
By Naim Naqvi