In the backdrop of election, let us find our role/s - if it is about giving votes and paying taxes, it is also to STOP the conflict entertainment.
In my bid to understand our basic socio-political role in society, I could, among others, mainly find two; 1) to vote, and 2) to pay taxes. In fulfilling these two roles, and also other roles in our personal and professional lives, we find ourselves stressed, betrayed in a number of ways. The only escapade to this seems to be in the form of entertainment. It becomes therefore perfectly comprehensible when our respective political leaders entertain us by merely putting up a ‘show’. What we as a mass or a ‘mob’ refuse to understand is the price we pay for letting our leaders entertain us, bribe us, fool us, and cheat us. The communication happens between a set of kids on one side and children on the other. This article is not about us and they, but about all of us, the so-called betrayer and the betrayed. We hope to see, at the end of the article how both the parties are fulfilling their respective roles in the same way year after year. We will also see that there are no victims here, or, both the parties are. Political leaders are as much our prey as we are theirs. I will not talk about anything new but will bring forth a mental model that denies changing. In one word, the mental model that we have is conflict. If it is a troubling phenomenon, it is also entertaining. The objective of this article is to let us think why our socio-political situation does not change.
Parable of the boiled frog
We are somehow convinced that our situation is not going to improve, that it is a frog swimming inside a tub where the temperature of conflict has been increasing slowly and gradually until to succumb becomes the black choice, the only choice – the only given in all our situations; from personal lives, to work environment, to our country and the world as a whole. I have always wondered as to why we do not resolve our conflicts although we know that resolving them is the surest way to peace, prosperity, power in the real sense of the term. May be because we have to give up our childishness and be like adults. May be we as individuals, as communities, countries need to accept our mistakes? Interestingly, Germany seems to be the only country which has openly admitted its mistakes to the whole world: and look at Germany now! So there is always a way out to get off this parable, the question is, are we ready!
Puppets and kids
Let us first look at the paradigm which is that of fighting. Look at any discussion that goes on in Indian TV channels! What do we see? We see a set of children fighting with each other as though they are acting out a role. And if you understood their facial expressions and vocal clues, you could figure out how much they came prepared to entertain us. I see them acting before a set of audience who wants these puppets to act in that way. Then who is betraying whom? BJP and Congress fight because we want them to fight. CPM and Trinamool fight because we want them to fight. Politicians while fixing blames onto their competitors, and eulogizing their respective parties and allies, are reading out the same script over and over again. And we are entertained by the sameness. Like the unquestioned popularity of the epics even today! Is this a dramatic irony where the audience knows everything? Are we watching Hamlet? Or the Mahabharata?
All politicians speak the same language when it comes to two things, 1) please vote 2) always pay your taxes, it is a crime not to pay taxes. They want us to vote because it will help any of them to come to power, and they want us to pay taxes because with that money the condition of roads and villages, the poor, the hungry, the problems concerning food, shelter and clothing, transport, power, traffic will remain just the same, year after year. So please go and vote, and please pay taxes of all kinds is what they ORDER to puppets like us. I am not fixing the blame on them; I am rather trying to think what we can do to change this mental model of puppets and kids, if at all.
Too many cooks
I am confused as to who to choose. Why can't I choose more than one party since coalition is the very nature of our democracy? Will it solve our problems? Noh! Until we make political parties resolve their conflicts, I do not see any worthwhile change coming. If I say anything in support of Arvind Kejriwal, my readers would think I am supporting him, no. I am sure it will not take more than a year for Arvind to be as corrupt as any other political party! We have to change the way political parties function, and the way we want them to function.
Imagine a discussion happening where BJP and Congress are applauding each other for the good work they have done, and also share their learning with us by admitting their mistakes – weird, untrue…see we can’t even imagine this. So aren’t we condemning them to play a fixed role, which is only to fight like children and pelt stones at each other?
Jean-Paul Sartre, long ago, called us 'les morts vivants' or the living dead. In short, it means we are living as though we are dead, living the lives of people who died with their stakes, values, beliefs eons of years ago. The commonest thing we do as ‘living dead’ is automate our lives, our reactions through what we know as values, beliefs which may not do us any good. Also, there are these two principal work we perform as living dead, a) divide in groups, sub-groups to fight/flight and b) re-produce to create more groups to fight/flight. This circus is a global phenomenon and is not restricted to India and her neighboring countries. I will float some examples and later clarify how it is relevant to the package deal. It is not enough to say I love India. I also have to say that I don’t love my neighbors. For being a true Brahmin, it is not enough for me to be a vegetarian. When I refuse to have lunch with people who enjoy chicken, beef, frogs and cockroaches it is then that I assume the role of a Brahmin. It is not enough for me to say I belong to a particular religion; the package is complete when I also think that followers of other religions are my enemies. Fundamentalists and liberals are condemned to hate and fight against each other to prove how authentic they are in their own thinking.
Authenticity is far too mature a ‘way of thinking’ to step into anyone else’s. It does not entertain with gun-toys and chemical or nuclear weapons. It allows to let the fundamentalists and liberals as staunch as they are, to let thinkers with opposite points of view co-exist despite being authentic towards his/her way of thinking. People who believe in authenticity do not have anything against people who are inauthentic, as long as there is no ‘dis-equilibrium’ caused to society. It does not need to convert people with different points of view into a single rhinoceros [ref. Ionesco’s Rhinoceros].
An understanding of our unchanging situation
My intention is to let people who are all well-meaning to understand why; year after year our situation does not improve. It doesn’t because we are repeating history ever since history became history. And we blame it on the politicians! In India, divides are countless, it is not only between south-India and north-India… but myriads of other divides…what these do is foster intolerance and dis-unities. And it is through these holes of intolerance and dis-unities from which enter insecurity, conflict, mistrust, and all such anti-social thoughts. As examples, we see liberals unable to work with a fundamentalist, honor-killings, and other ailments for intolerance. No wonder India has so many political parties! We see the same chaos in parliaments, and blame them for behaving the way they do…for Heaven’s sake, they are also us! We have people killing each other either because they hurt our egos, or because they opposed or snatched something away from us. Having a lot of political gundas is a necessity because political parties do not feel safe in their own country. Imagine a classroom of children fighting with each other, and also imagine them being suddenly supplied with guns and knives. What will they do? They will fight and even kill without even knowing what they are doing! Our society has endorsed delinquents for years and years. How will growth come if we do not allow anyone to function? Talking about gundas, the real kids who, if you take a one on one with them will tell you how much they hate being gundas. Conflict and mistrust is thick with negative energy, and we have a 360 degree of negative energy polluting us in every minute of the day. This is the single-most thing that is the root cause of all our so-called difficult situations. So-called because if this mindset changes, growth and development are just around the corner.
Our responsibility beyond voting and paying taxes
What we need to do as citizens of this country, is to ensure that political parties do not fight. This fighting, which has entertained us is proving a tad expensive now, don’t you think? Look at the challenges; Mamata Bannerjee fights with Budhhadev Bhattacharya, while both of them sincerely want West Bengal to flourish. But what are they telling us? They are telling us not to fight, that all faiths and religions are same! But what are they doing? Is there any amity between the two parties? Have they shown any willingness to work together?
Our true role would be to unite these two parties and ensure that they work in tandem, and then talk about communal harmony. Can we unite them? Can we ask them to get rid of their fights to show how much they care for the growth and development of West Bengal? Is this a question worth a thought!
Peace begins at home
Rahul, Varun, Priyanka, Maneka and Sonia are a family. Yet we do not see them together. They have the same situation of being fatherless and spouseless…yet they don’t show up as family! And these are people who talk about working as a family in their respective political parties and intend to resolve cross border tensions? What have they done to show us that they can rise above their past conflicts? Can we do something to see that their conflicts get resolved instead of cashing on it?
The fights between Renuka ji and Smriti Irani, between Dr. Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi are famous and entertaining indeed. But can we rise above this mediocrity and do something to ensure that they stop fighting and start working together? Talking about religion now, what is so wrong in being a staunch muslim or a staunch hindu? And what is the problem in being a liberal as long as they, being themselves work towards mutual growth? Renuka ji is a ‘pakka’ congress because she is against BJP, that is the package deal which applies exactly with Smriti Irani as well.
Baba Ramdev says that until the day everyone starts doing yoga, he will not stop. Why so? Like yoga, people can go to the gym, can swim, jog, and play outdoor games to keep fit. Alternately, he could say that their organization will not say no to anyone who wants to do yoga. Until the time we let people with different points of view co-exist and work together, growth and development will be presented to us only in the form of GDP.
This package deal impacts our families and workplaces in a myriad ways. The model that plays in between the powerful and powerless, the managers and the managed is worth watching. The package deal plays a very important and unwritten role in our equation with people. For people in power, who you talk to or dine with plays an important role in making us visible or otherwise in our respective social and professional lives.
War is more intelligent and brave
Jean-Paul Sartre, who called us ‘les morts vivants’ (the living dead), during his mobilization, being right in the midst of war, was writing a diary by not engaging into war! Imagine his ‘livingness’! He called us so because, as mentioned earlier, we live like our ancestors. We don’t realize that ‘Survival of the fittest’ is no longer valid! Our automated behavior of ‘fight or flight’ is primitive in nature; back then we had no other option but take to ‘fight or flight’ when we were chased by our predators. Now it is ‘survival of the wisest’... it is only the wise who will survive.
The thought-process that plays an important role here is that war is more intelligent and brave while peace is meek and cowardly; war is more masculine, and so our ‘raison d’être’! That is the reason why Hitler is followed even today in every war that is fought! However, if we read about Hitler, we might have a different opinion. Children in Germany are taken to the place where the holocaust happened so that all German children can get out of their respective child modes, and create a mindset which is in contrast with the well-known grown-up kid, Hitler.
Conflict as a form of entertainment: a tax with no benefits
When two parties fight, we are entertained. That's why they fight. Nothing could be put as clearly as this. We know that this is creating our biggest challenge, but we do nothing to ensure a mature way of coping with this challenge. To unite and not dis-unite could be our package deal. In a word in every situation, war or conflict is the virus that acts like a parasite on growth and development. GDP, to me, means nothing, high-rises, flyovers, entertainment channels do not speak of any achievement at all. I wonder how the world would be if all powerful countries would fearlessly admit their mistakes and going forward, accept ‘peace’ as the only tangible and quantifiable measure for growth and development, for real achievement. The real achievement would be when we as the largest democracy in the world can unite our leaders and make them work in tandem with each other, a role that is beyond voting and paying taxes.
Our role in the world's largest democracy
I am so sorry if I am asking you to live without spice which has so far been war, conflict, skirmishes and destruction. What I suggested with my limited understanding and visibility was to open our eyes and see why things don’t happen the way we want them to. It is a daunting task for it demands us to unite various leaders who are perpetually in conflict with each other. Fighting against our mindsets, there might come a time when we could collectively say no to this entertainment. That in my opinion is our role, the real package deal.