Saturday, April 14, 2018

Sign here, please, before you run and play

Every rite of passage in life comes with an unwritten agreement. Some we make a noise about like social media and data, some we barely recognize. Whether we like it or not, politics is very human nature, and comes with own sly contract. Some of us barely understand it, and whether involved, affected or couldn't care less, we need to deal with it. It plays out everywhere—in relationships, communities, organizations, families and practically every other place where there are two or more people. In every situation, somebody wants something which is (or seems to be) power, which they go after either consciously or subconsciously. Sometimes it's a wired reaction, and other times an engineered effort. We may as well understand it. It could make living this life much easier.

It all has to do with some form of deprivation. Mother-in-laws feel (arguably) deprived of anything between power, control and authority. Company bosses feel deprived of being anywhere from the one with enough spotlight on them to having their egos massaged as much as they want. Communities feel attacked, sometimes because the changes around put them in defense mode (especially if they are smaller and/or less exposed ones). When all these people, and more, can't get what they're after, they adopt tactics to ensure that they will, since simply asking is no more a solution. Other times (the way it's perceived), it's bad enough that they have to ask at all. It's an all out battle of pride first, among other things. Whatever the guise, people band together when they have a cause to and give it a shape and a name—resident welfare associations, unions, industry associations, ideology and culture groups/clubs, Facebook groups etc., while some are one person armies (who sometimes can put a whole group to shame).

Most of us don't understand why we practice the specific politics we do. It's a response that is overwhelming to us as we practice it and, in ages of humanity, we have never stopped to think or analyse why. When we rarely do understand it, it's far more rationalised, reasonable and sane.

That's politics that is everywhere. When it comes into its own arena, and deals with power and governance, it takes on a new level. Till then people are just doing it on the side for ego kicks and side benefits. Once crossed over to the big leagues, it's just a different playing field with the same motivation. The rules and science remain as is.

When earlier practiced, there was never a referee, and there was no accountability. Sensible people rested their egos at a reasonable midpoint and accepted that there are going to be some crazy folk you can go ahead and ignore. At the next level, though, there is self-regulation and accountability. It takes shape in a growing, robust swirling core of ideas fed by citizens' voices, with everything they think about where the country should be and how to get there. This is a sacred space that keeps any society and country a democratic one, against all odds. The core is there everywhere there is this country—offices, chai shops, traffic snarls, parliaments, school yards, college campuses... everywhere where there is one or more Indians.  

You don't get shot, bit, hung, killed or slapped for getting your voice in. It's built to echo the nation in one true voice, which is heard unfiltered as it sounds it out. When we all keep the democratic peace, and get our voice in, the echo may be saying a lot of things at once (we're a big, diverse nation). It may not be very pretty to hear but they're being said loud and clear. That's how we know that our perceived reality is indeed one. This becomes our key to how we can all live together in peace and harmony. We all get to originally hear each other. You can speak with respect and be heard with respect.

But things can get bad, and then worse. Since the nation is diverse, the voices are different and everyone's allowed to have their full say, the core can get off balance in tone, where there isn't respect given all around. That's because there are two types of people who say things: the crazies and the sane. Being polar opposites, one obviously won't like what the other says and bam! Despite the everyone's allowed rule, the crazies come with attitudes that end up seeking to shut down, restrict and ban voices that can't make it all the way into their hearts.

The crazies ones come with an "I am right and you are wrong" approach. The sane have a "Let's break that down" approach that sometimes leads to an "oops-a-daisy" revelation, and an admission of wrong reasoning where found. The crazies cannot rationalise. The sane can, at least a bit more. The crazies have identity issues with what they hold true to. The sane are aware of and are willing to face realities as is. The crazies come in all colours, and so do the sane. So any group with ideology you don't like will have some people whom you will respect, and some you won't, both with more or less the same ideas. The crazies have blanketed perspectives and colour their thinking. This helps everything become easily identifiable to them, but doesn't necessarily represent the issue all round. The sane stay away from colours and blanket ideas. They listen and are not in a hurry to settle on a final conclusion until it presents itself clearly. The crazies are in a perpetual hurry to (usually pre-)conclude with a (pre-)favourable view. The crazies consider the very thought of certain things poisonous to society. The sane don't restrict idea thinking by principle.

With this core, while it is vibrant and exploding, it isn't the case of thinking magically becoming law. It's here that ideas form and are influenced, discussed and hopefully tested. Ideas that work on the ground aren't unicorn-like. They are sometimes dumbed down from larger concepts but it's better to have a bigger ideal to start with. They can always be made better over time. Most universally accepted views of how things ought to be are always balanced on one side. They serve one master and make the rest servants. A good system serves everyone equally. Some argue, equally at their needs first. Others argue that that's too basic and it should be more competitive so that humans are naturally incentivized to do better, than be complacent. All these and many, many other ideas and sub-ideas are floating till one of them proves to be a better fit for a solution.

All of this converts into law and living reality when we evolve to a view that we find best, vote for someone or a party that promises to make that a reality and hope that they deliver. But these answers are not simple and never have been. Many assumptions we make about best answers are just the ones we are used to seeing or which we have been taught to be so. The ones we have adopted have become our reference points. They aren't necessarily the best ones. We just need to test them till they have the least unwanted consequences, or lesser ones.

Society is like a game of blocks. You can position its many facets in many ways. Each method has its own set of benefits and balance. Since life's got to go on, we can't wait to decide how to structure it. It takes after the easiest structure possible. We are hence born into one without choice and can change the positions of the blocks for the better before we die. With each generation, we get a chance to change this for the better, or worse.

But the crazies don't get this. They are not able to accept a difference in views, or submission to a process that isn't crazy enough for them. Instead, they resort to drastic methods to crush, stop, and quieten voices that are against their ideas. They seem to believe that submitting to the process will subvert the change that they think India needs, and it needs extra intervention. They think that since they are right their ideas will only save the nation, hence the hurry to ensure its success.

The whole purpose is to gather these ideas, and check, compare, and conclude which should make it to action one day. The way it works is we go through this process, and there needn't be only one conclusion. People can be split on the best verdict. The core throws out this conclusion, in any form, one verdict or multiple verdicts and that's how we can confidently say that this what India indeed thinks. We get it from the horse's mouth.

The freedom in the core is about realistic ideas and unicorn ideas-basically any idea that springs from the reality which an Indian gets up in the morning, every morning and identifies with. That's the qualifier. It allows everything from the crappy to the brilliant. This allows every individual to remain important, learn and teach, correct themselves and get corrected, and grow. There are no special privileges. There is obviously common sense, reason and wisdom that comes with time and age as well. This sets a few mostly self-understood rules and zones. They define what should be allowed and what shouldn't.

As these ethics develop, the lines can be blurry almost all the time. A few of the rules, though, don't really change. They define the do's and don'ts of the core. Some are:
  • One/a group can choose to believe what is not factually true for himself/themselves. That is allowed. It is not cardinal sin.
  • Thought doesn't hurt and is not detrimental by itself. If one/a group wants to hold on any thought they like, they are free to. They may only be restricted once they adversely inflict it on another person in action.
  • No individual's views automatically bear upon any other person. Offence is a personal matter, defined by intent to offend. 
  • Ridiculing and mocking another's thinking doesn't help. It happens often with people who have different viewpoints that are, by a more prevalent standard, advanced but not prevalent for everyone. 
  • Mere holding of a view does in no way turn into action, and therefore makes it infectious to society.
  • Freedom to accept, reject, debate and question everything is always allowed in a cordial, respectful and orderly manner. 
  • Definitions of right & wrong are better exchanged with those of true & false, factual & non-factual or destructive & beneficial ones.
As you can expect, with opinions and views as diverse, the discussion always goes south. What follows is colourful chaos in the core that makes it becomes multi-planar. Every element has a different touch point, resting between planes representing a variety of ideas that can be opposite or contradictory. This is essential to an open, evolving environment. While for some this is a wonderful thing with the learning one can have, for the others, who are puritanical, it is a place of cardinal sin. They don't believe that blood and water mix. They have sacred views about how things should be, and about change itself. In a land that is filled with variety, it is impossible to allow everyone in with views like that. You're bound to have struggles to be let in to what's theirs by right, and you cannot do right by pushing them away.    

So, by the above list, can have a sworn communist who is a little liberal (depends on who's defining it) who won't be defaced by a purist—however hypocritical that seems, or maybe he isn't satisfied with the best combination of views to have.  You can have a liberal who understands where a purist comes from and sympathises with (comparatively) closed view without being berated by a fellow liberal. You can have someone who isn't for or against anything, or anyone, for which they are not nailed against the wall because they are seeking till they find, and maybe they haven't found yet. The permutations and combinations are immense, and under the system each one of them is allowed. Accepting all of them is not done according to a list. Rather the list is added to after accepting them, all which are debated as a matter of course. The cogs of society can after all be used for betterment as well. 

This multi-planar core of peace and discussion is where any democracy is possible first. Despite all the damage we've done to it, it still works, and thank heavens we're still not apiece. It doesn't look like we will be for a long time. As we last out this grace period, can we work by the system and not against it? We can probably make it a forever. And, yeah, welcome to the circus! Just don't be upset when you see things getting topsy-turvy. As long as everyone's important and equally respected, we're on the right track. We'll get there, and better.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A new kind of hypocrisy

The Backstory

Politics exists always at two levels: personal and corporate. It's either the combined similar personal views that build a corporate view, or a corporate view that influences a personal view that feeds the strength of a corporate one. Both these processes run parallelly. Though not in proportional consistency, it's never only the one and not the other. What's important about this idea is that it's the personal politics that drives anything remotely political. It's always personal to corporate, or corporate to personal to corporate. 

Both politics differ in essence. One is concerted, organised, comes from a place of good self-awareness of what you stand for and an idea of what it is you're supposed to/should do about it. The other is the opposite. It is none of those, and something that fits like hand in glove in a way that you don't know even know that the glove is on. Like you get up in the morning believing in something for no apparent reason and that something is completely and totally you. You know nothing else, will believe nothing else and will fight for nothing else. That's your whole primary universe. Anything new causes enough cognitive dissonance to behead someone who threatens it (if you choose to give in), and it can take any shape. It decides your views on gender equality, soceital norms and every other subject important at the time. It's like a beast that controls you, and you have no clue it does. You just puppet along.

But that's the extreme version. There's a milder version of personal politics that far more self-aware. It's more rationalised and is open to other ideas and evolving. It absorbs the intricacies of the nature of differences between different people's ideas, wishes and wants. It submits to contemporary reality and accepts that we function within it. You find it proportions, sometimes less, sometimes more, all over. It's quieter and not pre-decided. 

For a long time, personal politics (both varieties) and its corporate variety had a safe distance. Off late, it's closing in. Soon it's all becoming one. Now, personal is corporate, and there's no more corporate. It's all just way too personal. If it's the less crazier kind, there isn't much of a danger. With the other one, it just explodes. Owing to the fact that it's the whole Universe for those who stand by it, they explode when it's attacked by any other Universe, even inadvertantly.

The confusion

This mixing of personal and corporate politics has been evident over the past few years. A personal

view stayed at home, or stayed fringe but a corporate view made it to the front and found its place and base, after due development and weighing as a complete, balanced one. This equilibrium has been destroyed. These days, personal politics influences and becomes its corporate form without a vetting process making it personal in vengeance and corporate in execution and acceptance by society-a dangerous combination. It's like a child being allowed to freely wield a knife. The idea is not to restrict anyone's freedom of preferences, but to allow everyone else's too at the same time in a respectful environment. The basic principle is that if it's how any citizen gets up and feels in the morning, it deserves space unless it is destroying someone's else's similar privilege.

The net result is that, today, almost everyone heard seems to be an expert for their opinion, whether it's naive, sensible or crazy. Most of it is just how they feel. Very little is invested political thought. There's less reason and sense applied. It's full of instant reactions and less thought out while being heavily emotional and identity based. Mere thought becomes institutionally valid and automatically right. 

It is perfectly legitimate opinion but, in all the mess, there is, obviously, no reasonable standard except for self applied ones i.e. the ones that say "I am right because I have a right to believe and assert so. Therefore, everyone else is wrong unless they completely agree with me amd that's my right to have." How everyone can be right and everyone else be wrong at the same time is another discussion altogether, that we can easily ignore. But this isn't the best place to apply logic so we'll just skip that thought. 

Meet hypocrisy

One such specific standard is hypocrisy: one that can hit you from any end, depending on where you're standing (that is its defining quality). It demands a few things of an allowable political opinion. One, and most important, is that you should not be (or come across as) selective. If you speak against, or for, one thing, you should speak similarly about the entire spectrum of issues that come along with it (and that mainly depends on where your accuser stands). So if you are against X, and for Y, you'd be a hypocrite to also not point out the same, similar or equally wrong flaws in Y, for example. 

As we now have been reminded, with small Universes come smaller minds and understanding. So even if you stand at a slightly different angle to the anyone in India, your sight is clear, your mind's noted all the details and you're aware of what a majority of people feel and think about what you see and hear (and why they do so), you're in for a barrage of accusations just because someone stands at an angle to an issue that's not yours and insists on the privilege of his tiny Universe as his right. You could also be aware that you are playing close to this risk, but with tightropes everywhere you really don't have an option. The only one you do have is zipping it. Anything you say will suffer from the wrath of the one who has a different angle.

With personal becoming corporate with their views, they assume a morning feeling, indiscriminately turn it in to a valid concerted effort and unleash. All that actually happened is that somebody felt like they got up on the wrong side of the bed but they realised it was the right side but just refuse to admit it.

Given that others don't mix personal and corporate, some seek to understand differences in views and their roots. But the others don't. Here are a few eye-openers to some sense in the nonsense.

1) When you keep personal politics personal, it's a side to actual real life where you live a life that takes up your time. You make yourself heard because of conviction, i.e., when something happens that threatens/can threaten something that you hold close to yourself. You need to, primarily, for your own safety, and then for your own human (or national) brothers' safety. But that's just your Universe. It needn't even match someone else's (which you understand, but they don't know). So when you do speak out, and different universes rub shoulders, you're automatically in line to be charged with hypocrisy. 

2) With an insecure personal Universe, they feel a need to want to be spoken to all the time, much like an insecure identity (even if somebody isn't talking directly at them). But their in-horizon problems will not be everybody else's, nor will the things that trigger your responses, empathy and sympathy. The immediate sensitivities everyone inherits by upbringing and influence simply isn't the same.

3) No one has to be right. If everyone was, as we'd like to assume, the world will be a bigger mess than if we all we're as clueless. Everyone needs to be sensible and respectful, first and always. We can be anything else later. We need to learn from those we are not able to identify with, rather than target them. 

A few other tricks up sleeves: 

Where were you when?: This is something people are asked when they represent a thinking that inspired clear wrongdoing in the past, but not necessarily now. To this, you answer the question as you best can and tell them where you exactly were, if you remember. It could be anything from the fact you weren't born yet to you playing cricket in the gully at that point in time.

If they seem like they'll listen, explain to them the point of political awakening, that everyone doesn't become born a activist one side of the political spectrum. Experiences have to move them to give birth to their own personal political convictions, and that took its own time with you, as it does with everyone. Tell them that the process is critical to how well you understand it and defend it making sense at the same time. 

What about...?: Also known as whataboutery, this is a comeback when you point out a wrong and they respond with an equal wrong from your side as if to say that they're not the only ones doing something wrong. Explain to them that the fact that what you've done is wrong does not change the fact what they've done is wrong too, and that two wrongs make don't make either right! Stress that the claim here isn't sainthood but the correction of wrong where it is, wherever it is. 

So if we are going to trade hypocrisy charges, we may as well as well trade them at the right people. Open rank hypocrisy is another topic completely.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Modern Indian Politician's rule book

Nowadays politics is a hard game but that doesn't mean everyone who gets in bypasses the merit test. When power's in play, the human is spurred to get their bite. And since it's full up and there's way more competition than just the top layer you see, there is an intermediate dynamic that has driven and taught people a few survival tactics. It's almost become like a call centre employee rule response guide that can sometimes be hilarious and true, at the same time. Note: we're saying nothing about how much sense they make or whether they should even be endorsed. Here are just some of the entries you'd find in there.

Foot-in-mouth: This is suggested when you need to a big presence but you don't have one. Just go for it. The limelight is far more important. Your intelligence may see some sunlight but that's alright. Don't let that bother you. Just go straight back into your hole after. The thumb rule is to get all the attention you need from a passing momentous opportunity. As far as your intelligence is concerned, don't worry about it. You may just feel a little dizzy but you'll go back to being your old stupid self in no time.

Out of context: Here's a trick that will save you from the trouble of pre-thinking and being generally aware. If in case you're caught red lipped, just say you were quoted out of context. To give your context, you can immediately say a number of things: the people I was speaking to understood it right, it makes sense when heard with all the points that I made or I was referring to the larger picture... anything that gets you off the hook. 

I need to pay toll?!: Use this one when you're an absolute nobody. Yes, I know you also pay taxes and use good highways where you find them but let's ignore that for a prosperous career in politics. If you don't happen to pass a toll booth (or just reroute so you do), create a scene there. I won't give you a "how" to do this because it's always better completely left to your own imagination. Just make sure you get on the news! In most cases, you will even if you forget to manage it beforehand. So don't let it bother you if you can't. Just break a few glass panes, thrash at least one computer and make one person bleed (the idea is not to have a massacre). Remember, you're just looking for really cheap, toll-free publicity. 

The slap: The classic one. This one doesn't need a setup. Two steps: get mad and fadak! Put some power onto the action. Try and get some fireworks without actual fireworks. Preferably do it to someone for a whimsical reason. Make sure she/he's a public servant. On a private professional, you need a bigger reason, but make sure your landing is as powerful. Don't over think any of it but. Just go with the opportunity. 

The clarification: One of the cheapest ways to repair the damage you've done with a statement that you made. Just say something that's more tangible. Be diplomatic and give people what they've been demanding to hear. Good examples of this are statements like I'm sorry if what I said actually hurt someone or I did not intend to offend anyone intentionally. If in doubt whether it's good enough, run it by your party unit head to check. But never make the mistake of taking back your statement. That undoes any progress you've made.

Let me really show you who I am: You don't need any introduction to this one! Throw your weight around as much as necessary, even if you don't actually have any pull. You'll get your support from the party local office.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

It's time to change the election conversation!

It's that time of the year again: election season. When a politician's worst fear comes alive, and they outdo themselves to prevent it from happening using many methods, sane and insane. Some of these include foot-in-mouth, out of context, talk to the hand, the clarification and many other such methods. There are so many there's a dedicated dictionary that has documented the old and the new ones we know of. Check it out here. 
But they aren't the only ones to blame. Everyone's also gets wagging, tongue or not, when they see the banners come out, roads decorated sans occasion and their politicians getting some sun. Now we all make hay when the sun shines, so let's talk about everyone else reveling the sun too. Let's keep the conversation balanced with truth. 
To start with, the news. This is one of those times when it's blooming season for them. Then there's the extra party party: everyone who isn't important enough to be a part of their favourite party. They do their selfless duty towards making India a better place according to them. Then, the people. All of these people get talking about motives, possible inside reasons, somebody's uncouthness and somebody else's far more respectable campaign. But we see a clear trail which has some things we should avoid. 
Party central politics
One widely engaged-in angle of discussion is a party's strategy and its benefit to itself in terms of winning most seats and coming to power. There is nothing wrong in the analysis but the focus is off why they're there: the people. Talking about their strategy with perspective of how it suits their coming to/remaining in power only normalises any selfish motives a party may have more. If we'd rather evaluate the benefits of the policies they promise to have that the country will benefit from, the conversation goes forward. By sticking with the incumbency circle talk, we only give the politicians' ego more power, along with a license for them to slyly bypass voter accountability. Saying, "Why would they if it doesn't suit their party interests?" is less empowering to the nation and its people (including you) than looking at what their idea of good governance and good policies are and calling out the gaps in their higher ideals. 
There are lesser benefits to a politician having a fan club than you can imagine. The politician's fan club phemenona is a product of populism. Defined right, it is not a good thing. The presence of it marks an non-thinking electorate. A thinking voter knows that he doesn't vote for 50 And 100 day runs. He knows that he needs results that his taxes will be paying for. Thinking voters don't make political fans.
A non-thinking one is the political fan boy you see. He believes in saviors for himself, only other than himself. He deems himself worthy of his own political wisdom, only when his party or candidate is insulted. The rest of the times he's the loyal court jester. He doesn't count the costs. His is a very selfish inclination in the sense that it doesn't consider the larger picture. He sides with identity/personal identity politics that needs no reasons. He's high on the freedom to politik with respect received (and none given) but won't answer the critical questions that come. He doesn't make sense of his conviction but thinks he has a right to make any amount of noise about non-sense. When he tries, he follows pre-sold ideas and phrases and thrives on the arguments to support his favourite politician and party that are taught. 
His counterpart, on the other hand, doesn't feel the need to pick a side. He will when he's convinced. He'll as easily break with that side with equal conviction. If he can't find a side that's good enough, he'll also stay on the fence but also stay sensible and reasonable. 
Playing to win
It's only fair to expect someone to contest to intend to win. Assuming all intentions are good, representatives can't bring change and betterment if they don't win. So pulling all stops to make the dream real can't be wrong. What is out of place, though, is seeing winning as the goal, and not the by product of fighting for the right things. The difference is in your starting point and goal. When the goal is to win, the starting point is just about anywhere that takes them there: freebies, sops, concessions (as much as lockdowns and scrapping). The means justifies the end, and the poeple, issues and solutions have no place. There's no more respectable morality left to boast of, that makes it noteworthy. When it's the opposite, with the goal service and the starting point also service, you have a more sustainable combination. But then, who wants sustainability? We want power, strangely!
The oft asked question between candidates is who will win, and the obvious answer is themselves each. But why bother about it if we're worried about why anyone, or anyone else needs, ought to win. If we stay preoccupied about that, we can keep the winners conversation at minimum and reasonably conclude who should win. The more we bypass what makes one or the other winning worthy, the more we obsess about our own forward growth than who keeps the chair, keeping the main thing the main thing. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

India and the wars her children wage

Nationhood is very much like parenthood with the disappointment, or happiness, of children choosing their own ways when they grow older. All of us have common historical identity. We all studied in the same schools, learnt the same history, had almost similar cultural influences... we're the same bunch. We practically grew up in the same, albeit, large house. Hers is the typical Indian family with a lot of children. Just like any children who grew up together, we made our adult choices of inclination towards one side. Our own situations compelled us to make our choices with clear conviction, however ridiculous, including the one to stay away from politics completely. 

Like any happy family that accepts its own siblings, despite differences, we ought to do exactly that. Whatever we stand for and fight for apart, we're still one big happy family. Slightly irritating, maybe, but nonetheless. When in a tight spot, we help each other out in brotherly & sisterly love. At home, there ought to be no bones broken or blood shed. At times, the elder ones do the controlling but we all have each other's back, no matter what. 

But then there's the thing of family honour. I'm not talking about the family honour that defines honour killings. There's precisely zero honour in that. I'm talking about when you disrespect your own, especially the one that you grew up with. It doesn't mean you should accept it. It just means that you shouldn't disrespect it. You don't trash what was undeniably home, unless it wasn't made home for you at all. If you do, you don't get murdered. You just get ousted and disowned. You'd still have mother's, brother's and sister's love. They'd still secretly leave food out for you. But they will stop if you still attack them from the outside. They may even retaliate proactively and attack in defense. 

This is the setting of fair game that politics ought to be. Our political choices or non-choices are always primarily personal. They have a personal backstory that comes with a lot of attachment, which is our primary decision-driving factor with them. Our choices don't make us traitors as long as we make our choices from the same identity base: we're all from this land that we know as home, and we have different ideas of how things should be. Our views should be allowed basis the fact that this is our home. 

Democracy gives us that space: to dissent as a right if we choose to practice it. What's possible and pragmatic from our views is a different discussion. We have power to change things in democratic process, through voting, expression and active participation. We shouldn't be disallowed that, if our ideas differ, unless we're causing collateral damage. The laxman rekha starts where you are against the idea of India itself, its healthy history (and evolution), and want it to be anything but that. It doesn't start from when you are anti-successive governments for their people oppression or when you don't hold the view that we have the best soil in the world (and therefore a superior everything). 

Lately though, politics has become the worst ever replacement for humanity as a standard. It has embraced that very best soil argument. It defines you like being a Planet Earth human used to. The soil you're from makes you less worthy and more deserving of the right to exist even. What you wish and fight for later can make you even more undeserving. You can think otherwise and be damned to oblivion. 

To her obedient children (turned parents), India isn't the progressive parent that believes its children can be different and have the freedom to choose their own path. The obedient sons don't know how to think beyond how they've been brought up and won't allow "dishonour" from the ones with more free minds who are capable of thinking beyond, even if for the better. What recognising and understanding what's beyond your identity makes you aware and enlightened. It also shows you better ways to be. Your history needn't always be right.

We've gone into the politics of right and wrong, where you can only be right or be damned. It's a case of being right or being condemned for being left (because you're not right). What should be essentially an attempt to order the world into a happy, prosperous place where identity is intact becomes a power craze where none of those factors are even considered. The point becomes to win. Identity that was always a non-negotiable trumps administration. Emotion trumps common sense. Passion trumps a sustainable form of society. None of them at wrong. They're all just stemmed in a false sense of insecurity that some people will lose their identity if they don't keep it. Instead of keeping it, we're fighting for and bullying people with it because, you know, we are, and have, the best. The absolute best. Nothing else deserves any credit, right of existence be or thriving. Even if you're not Indian, or not taking about India, or even if you're an alien from Mars.

Some of her children though have taken an easier route: apathy. Understandable, but it doesn't help. They couldn't be more wrong. While it's easier to be ignorant, every sworn apolitical's set of privileges are defined, permitted and allowed directly by the very politics they shun and avoid. An apathetic stance is as detrimental to a country as is an overzealous one. If you want to ensure your freedoms and rights, you've got to at least think while you vote and check and ensure the citizen privileges you're granted.

That being said, all political views are always personal. You always have more than logical reasons to stand by your choice. It has to do with how you grew up and the variety that you have seen. There isn't a supposed-to-be about it; no right, no wrong, just who it hurts, benefits and whether it actually helps. It's always people, and not politics. Politics should be helpful by product.

We will only realise this if we care to look beyond our views into what we actually believe. We usually stick with those views because that's our primary identity, and we know that primary identity always trumps common sense in practice (at least for most of us). Despite differences, we should be able to stick to our views and not hurt each other. When it's about people, everyone gets their space. 

So there's no need to fight at all. Hopefully, this big fat, Indian family stays one, and sense prevails.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The sad tale of John and Sarah: The eulogy


We are gathered here to pay tribute to this sad tale of John & Sarah. Seasons come and go, but this stubborn tale refuses to evolve. Winds can blow, to and fro, but this tale just shall not prevail (or so Sarah says). Life is people, and people are stubborn. When we don’t have a choice, we blame life and get on with it. Eventually, people or at least somebody, bears the brunt of it. Who gets that privilege is your best guess.

So here is a final goodbye note to Sarah from John.

Dear Sarah,

 It was fun. Thanks, but you have decided that I’ll never do right by you. The only way I will, ever, is to be left hanging... waiting... till you go back into oblivion again. So, I’ll sing you some from a Dylan song and “leave” (as you often suggest I should do even if I don’t do or say something annoying):

Still I wish there was somethin’ you would do or say
To try and make me change my mind and stay
We never did too much talkin’ anyway
So don’t think twice, it’s all right

It ain’t no use in callin’ out my name, gal
I can’t hear you anymore
I’m a-thinkin’ and a-wond’rin’ all the way down the road
I once loved a woman, a child I’m told
I give her my heart but she wanted my soul
But don’t think twice, it’s all right

I ain’t sayin’ you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don’t mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don’t think twice, it’s all right   

I’m sure you’ll never to get to see this eulogy. So, like the silence I’ve lived with so long, I’ll just speak straight into it... and leave... first. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A societal black hole, and our consistent attempt to defy it

This post comes from reading about Frank Abagnale Jr., the real life story of whom has been portrayed in the movie Catch Me If You Can. He actually did all that Leornardo Di Caprio did in the movie, and more! In a recent interview with him, he was quoted saying:

I am a true believer that one of the biggest problems for crime in America today is lack of ethics and character.  True, we do not teach ethics at home. We don’t teach it in school because the teacher would be accused of teaching morality.

...and I agree with that. Ethics is taught, not got. Morals, on the other hand, are got. The fine line between something being taught and got is consistency. Every society in the world that survives peacefully and respectably, most importantly to its own members, thrives on balance and balance leads to consistency. We need balance and consistency. Yes, both.

Consistency implies linearity in values and functioning. Balance implies growing from that linearity into newer territory which may deviate from that but which expands that to the new, more accommodating linear nature of society. For example, if society endorsed that pointy shoes were the shoes to be worn in public, and all agreed, that's what we would be taught by and brought up with. We would consider it highly unfashionable to wear anything but pointy shoes to a formal occasion and the person who did would be booed/looked down upon or expelled. That's linearity (or consistency).

Now, times move forward and people bring along vans as acceptable wear. So people start booing while being countered with the logic of moving forward in the world. Soon enough, vans will be accepted as acceptable footwear too, and people with vans and pointy shoes are not booed, perhaps over a much longer time but nonetheless. That's balance.

While society leans well on consistency, it provides adequate and reasonable room for tolerance in balance. That's an openminded, reasonable society. But don't be mistaken, society had to be led. When a child is brought up, he/she is brought up in a particular way, some particular way. Children can't be brought up in no way. Instructions can't be empty and unintentional, even if they're just passed on culturally. And when we don't think about the instructions we impart, we teach what was always taught and cycle of meaninglessness in society goes on and on and on.

Each of the things we teach them, meaninglessly, just like how it could have been taught to us, become the basis of how we percieve, act and behave. And, collectively, that contributes to the stupidity of society which we'll never realise because we become (and are) that exact stupidity and stupidity cannot recognise itself. Duh! So if you want to not get to that stage, think before you become it. Once you've crossed that line, you can never turn back to being the unstupid people that society will need at all points in time.    

This is where the right ethics comes in. It was either always taught, or never taught. People who were taught know them. People who weren't don't. So the ones who steal and crime don't consider it to be wrong simply because they were never taught that it was wrong, and it's way too late now. It's the opposite case with those who were taught that it is. And that's what Frank Abegnale Jr's right about.

But go one step back, and you'll realise that if you ever have the ethics problem that you don't realise, you didn't have parents who questioned what they lived and therefore what they taught you. They never considered life a (positive) contributive force that evolves into greater society goodness that advances how we live together as a society. That's exactly why you do what you do, and speak of wrong, right, bad and good the way you specifically do. 

They just lived, and never wondered to ask why, except wonder how someone can ask them how they could just simply do that. Doing that creates habitual but meaningless ways and values of living that defies the fact that a societal black hole cannot exist, by logic, whether good or bad. When we do that, we ignore the inherent meaning in the meaninglessness. Habits that are loaded with values that build people and society are treated like the fancy toilet paper that ends up being used because there's so much extra, and there's only that (and nothing else). Like we're so used to it, we don't even see the irony. Like we never will.

That's why Frank Abagnale Jr. is right. We've go to think about 1) how we live 2) the world we live in (minus the obvious unquestioned comfort about how things have been how they will be) 3) how we bring up our children (and the next generation).

Thoughts on that, anyone? Let's start with 1) first.