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REBELS WITHOUT CAUSES
By Neel Anil Panicker
The other day while on my regular walk around the park I happened to bump into a septuagenarian, an ex-Armyman, one who I am privileged to occasionally chat with.
As I sat down beside him in the corner bench after my regular five rounds of brisk walking around the oblong park, the conversation got flowing and then ambled towards the current times that we The retired gent touched his beard and with a far off look in his eyes very soulfully remarked, “I pity you and all others who’ve missed out on the olden golden days of yore. Compared to today’s fractured times, those days were a blessing.”
I nodded my head in acquiescence but much later in the privacy of my room I mulled over what the old man had mentioned.
It dawned on me that he was in all probability right.
Currently, it’s not a happy world that we inhabit.
Violence, unrests, schisms, divides, hatred, animosities are all taking a huge toll on the human psyche.
As one flips through the newspapers, turns on the telly, surfs past umpteen channels, swirls around roundabouts, hangs around coffee shops or roadside kiosks or what have you, our ears are bombarded with just one thing __ everywhere the singular sentiment uppermost on peoples’ minds is a deep overriding sense of negativity bred by unhappiness, sadness, gloominess, pensiveness__ call it by whatever name you chose to.
It’s as if the entire world is shrouded in an all pervasive blanket of pitch black darkness.
And amidst all this if there is one word that has rather surreptitiously climbed onto the top of the popularity charts. And that word is OPPOSE.
Oppose! Haven’t we heard this word quite often of late. It’s so predominant and deeply entrenched in our everyday vocabularies that it has become the numero uno word in the English language.
World around, cutting across boundaries, territories and geographies, only one single tune is heard, loud and clear: Oppose.
Pray, what exactly is this beast?
And to find an answer to this, I decided to go strictly by the book.
As per the Oxford English Dictionary it is a verb and means and here I quote, “disagree with and attempt to prevent, especially by argument.”
Now let’s decode what all this means.
But before that take a look around you and what do you see?
Cast the net far and wide and you will notice the entire world and its nanny__every Tom, Dick, and Harry, and if I were to speak in the Indian context___every Ram, Shyam, and Ghanshyam___has jumped onto the ‘Opposing’ with a capital ‘O’ bandwagon.
This is a so in your face world. It seems as if intolerance is the glue that binds all of humanity together. People screaming themselves hoarse, talking nineteen to a dozen, talking the hind legs of a donkey, opposing one or the other thing; or the other group, person, institution, country, ideology, orientation or whatever it is that is bugging them badly.
Needless to say such opposition needs to be accorded its due respect and made dignified by according it the status of a noun.
So henceforth I am going to refer to those who oppose as Opposers.
Now, in my deeply embedded research on this phenomenon, I have unearthed some very interesting tidbits about this hallowed group of Opposers.
For one, there exists a very subtle caste system even within the Opposers.
Here’s how it goes. I have discovered that there elementally are three kinds of Opposers in this world.
Here they are in no particular order.
First comes those who oppose for no rhyme or reason.
These are the ones who will make noises, scream their lungs out,
Shout and scream themselves hoarse from every single stage, podium and rooftop without having one fig of an idea what the issue is all about.
I rightful question then is why do they do what they do so very well, which is nothing but make noise and shatter the peace of all around them?
Despite beating my head a lot I still couldn’t come out with a plausibly convincing answer but all I can say in their defence is that they do all this and then some more because the mere act of Opposing something or someone_ be it man, woman, child, animal, dog, bat, rat, cat, Taj Mahal, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Scientology, Astrology, the neighbor next door et al is in their blood, it’s part of their chemical composition, their DNA.
These are the ones you see milling around protest meetings, rallies, circled around lane ends, sundry bylanes and parks and every other public square, forever opening their mouths and mouthing inanities, not the least bothered about what exactly are they protesting about.
They are the lucky brothers and sisters of this world who have risen above such mundane tasks as studying, working towards a living, striving towards improving their lot in life, pending quality time with their families etcetera for they are ever wedded to their profession chasing imaginary ghosts of their own creation.
Have cause, will protest is their sole abiding talismanic mantra in life.
They are rebels without any causes and in doing so they cut very sorry figures as people see them as crusaders but crusaders of what, none knows.
And if you ever have the audacity to simply ask them what exactly are they protesting about they clam up, turn tongue tied and cut a hasty retreat only to rear their over-active, over and ever busy heads someplace else.
To paraphrase a famous movie advertisement jingle, the are forever playing in a cinema near you.
Then there is the second category, slightly higher up the food chain__the ones who protest and they know exactly what they are protesting about.
The cause of their protest could be anything, beset as the world is with an endless array of problems right from the falling economy to the evils of globalization to the demonic monster that is demonetization to heart wrenching and pocket pinching taxation policies to widespread doping in competitive sports to gender imbalance to global warming to what’s bugging the humble fly in the wall from leading an active sex life. The range and diversity of issues the protestors protest about is stupendously staggering and beats the finest ingenuous minds of the world.
I mean who would have ever thought of sitting in protest, ostensibly to protect the interests of the ever docile cow who of late wasn’t giving as much milk as it used to earlier.
These and then some more, no topic is too small or big, too high or low for this band of Opposers to flex their muscles.
There is one last category in this very august list of Opposers; those who oppose as well as propose.
These are the guys who have taken Opposition to the next level as they don’t just tell you Trump is bad but also suggest alternatives.
They don’t scream themselves hoarse during television debates that the Taj Mahal is not an ode to eternal love but is a symbol of tyranny, debauchery, opulence, and a slap on the face of human dignity but also propose what to do with it. That is, demolish it, convert it into a air condition public lavatory, metamorphose it into a grand Lord Rama temple, or turn it into a National Lovers Park.
Now I am not lambasting all this, nee not even telling that Opposers are all wrong and are always wrong.
No not at all. I am of the firm view that for any society to prosper and turn better, it needs its due share of Opposers, Rebels, Dissenters, Mudslingers, Whistle blowers blah blah blah…whatever names or shades of colours you may chose to address them as.
Here I am reminded of the words of Hubert Humphrey, 38th Vice President of America and a very strong votary of world peace, who said that “freedom is hammered out on the anvil of debate, discussion, and dissent.
Because that’s how we as human beings have won our hard fought freedoms across every nook and corner of Planet Earth. The symbiotic correlation between these 3Ds- debate, discussion, debate- and freedom is hard to miss. In fact I would further and say that it is more than a correlation; it is a causation. One begets the other. The other is the direct result of the one.
But then let’s also not carried away and heed the wise advice of another great visionary, the charismatic intellectual giant, the 34th President of the United States of America, the very reluctant politician Dwight ‘Ike’ Eisenhower who said that “ may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion”.
And Eisenhower would know having dealt and admirably so with all manner of people, nations, nationalities, and ideologies.
I am reminded of his profound words when in the course of his inaugural address to senior graduating students of Columbia University he said , “To blend, without coercion, the individual good and the common good is the essence of citizenship in a free country”.
Look around us and we will understand that what an upright American President said in 1945 applies all the more in circa 2017.
Five years later, in 1953, almost a decade after the end of the Second World War and the world around was still scrambling on their feet, he said something more, and this time addressing the student populace across the world.
He said and I quote, “The true purpose of education is to prepare young men and women for effective citizenship in a free form of government.
And if that education empowers and prepares us for effective citizenship then protest and rebel we must to build free forms of governance which are equal, equitable, and cater to all interests and interest groups that go towards the making free societies.
But sadly, in the absence of the right kind of education, we are simply churning out an assembly line of half or ill-informed young men and women who end up as very ineffective citizens hell bent only in subverting the long enshrined tenets of good conduct, civility, righteousness and what constitutes rightful conduct.
Until then it’s one big mad house out there.
(c)neelanilpanicker2017 #reena’sexplorationchallenge #shortstory #essay #rebel #protest #education