They Do Make a Difference

Psycho-Socio Study of an Idealist

Why this sudden silence? Silent mode is OK for the mobile phone, that too, at times. But for men! Particularly for you, a sensitive soul. People look to you for advice, guidance, suggestions…. Your views become opinions which then turn instrumental in changing the shape of the things. They awaken the people, dispel darkness, and become a ray of hope. And if you go silent…

Nothing would ever happen here. Nothing. I have spoken so much! Nothing has ever happened. I have only wasted myself away, on those who have never cared for what I have said, who would have been happier, better off without those words of mine. They couldn’t say so to my face, but I know at heart they felt that way.

How can you say that? I don’t agree. You were always revered, respected, listened to…

That’s all. Never accepted. Never followed. They remained what they were. Their concession for me, they never argued, never opposed. Same approach that we have for our great men. We sculpt them, place their statue on a pedestal, garland them, celebrate their birthdays etc. But never imbibe their values, don’t care for whatever they said. We agree with Shaw that great men are better dead. 

But you were their leader, always. They would come to you for everything, seek your help and guidance. Of course, they were not up to your IQ level. Couldn’t grasp most of what you said. Your dynamism, your revolutionary zeal, your iconoclastic views, they were beyond their minds., their mental caliber. But they were always awestruck by your grand plans, your farsightedness and your global vision. They praised you a lot.

Praised or flattered? I was a fool to be puffed up by their encouraging responses, and their readiness to do my bidding. Sheer hypocrisy. Serving their own interests. Usual cunning. Pleasing me. Keeping me in good humor. Biding their time or buying time. Happy-go-lucky people who had only skin-deep convictions. In fact, no convictions of their own. Like, we were playacting or partying.

But what was it you wanted to create? A new world. A heaven on the earth. So much idealism! Your ideals! Terrible. How could you even think of it? In that penury and hopeless situation! And you collected very ordinary people, with no ambition or vision. What did you do?

Yes, I was a fool. An incorrigible idealist. I was young. Very emotional. I couldn’t accept that man should live such a wretched life. Starting with my own self, my family, I went out to the world. Wanted everybody to have a reasonable, dignified, hopeful life. Honesty and sincerity should be his hallmarks. I wanted to change the shape of the world, face of the world. Yes, I had the conviction that I could do it. I thought I could bring about a revolution. My eyes twinkled with my resolve. My heart throbbed with hope. My soul flowered like the Miracle Garden., flowed like the Ganga and expanded like the Indian Ocean. Oh my God, what an intoxication! I thought I could shake the world. No, there was absolutely nothing wrong with my dream. But poor me! We sat far into the nights—during day we all worked and earned our bread—and discussed the blueprint of our organization, the jobs to be performed by each one of us, social service to be undertaken, and intellectual stimulation required for sustaining such a stupendous task. Those were really splendid days. We were all proud of ourselves, me the hero. We were to create a new world, wherein there would be no discrimination—everybody equal. In fact, the French Revolution lent us our slogans of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, a world where happiness would come hopping to you. They would all come to my place, get coffee, tea or coke and rejoice. I saw in them the fruition of my hopes. How big a fool I was! I had not studied human psychology. I couldn’t read them. What should I say? They befooled me. Maybe, they even mocked me, my fancies, my stupidities. They took whatever they wanted from me, and kept slipping away, one by one, opting for the humdrum lives, as most of the ordinary people do. They were indeed ordinary people. Small, very small, both in character and vision. They couldn’t resist the temptations. Couldn’t make sacrifices. Could never come up to my expectations or imagination. 

I can only pity you. Had you read the words engraved on the Vivekanand Memorial at Kanyakumari, perhaps you would have been warned beforehand. You know what he says: Give me seven or eight dedicated young men, and I will shake the world. A man like Vivekanand couldn’t get even seven or eight persons who could share his dreams.

Yes, yes, I know. I read it long after my dream too had been shattered. At that time, I was stunned and shocked at what he had said, but later on I meditated and came to realize that no, even if I had known of his views before my ideas got tattered, I would still have dared and taken the plunge. You don’t know the power of youth, the fire that his soul can ignite. Young people have that passion, some kind of madness that propels them to do those weird things, things that sometimes change the shape of the world. Look at the world and its journey from the bullock cart to the satellite age, from feudal lords to the democratic system, from a life of taboos to this era of free thought and action, you will find it is youth that has galvanized the human race. Only Greta, a thirteen-year-old girl, could stand in the UNO Assembly and demand her right of survival while the so-called leaders of the human race were discussing and calculating GDP as if GDP or economy was more important than the survival of the human race. 

The recent movie, 12th Fail, is a splendid picture of the success of the‘ junoon’ of the youth. You have to be a maniac to succeed. In youth you are a different being. You are simply mad. Your mania can burn the entire world, or it can turn the vast desert into a bewitching garden. Passion rules, not intellect. Don’t you sometimes pity the young boys and girls who commit suicide just because they are not allowed, for one reason or the other, to marry their chosen partner. They say they are in love, and for love they can sacrifice their lives. What is this love? Nobody understands it. After marriage, life just becomes ordinary, mundane and humdrum routine. They hardly get time for what they call love, they don’t have time to even make love. They waste themselves collecting things which, they suppose, will help them in their fulfilment. Now when you grow up, you can only laugh at their concept of love. But you talk to a boy or a girl who is in love of the absurdity of this consuming passion—passion for a girl, my God—OK, passion might be justified, but dying for a girl or a boy! No way. But in youth, you can’t make them understand that love is not  a life-or-death question .Just let it be. Take it easy. It is OK if you can have her as a partner. If not, don’t die for her. Any other reasonably good girl would be equally good for sex and procreation. Please, don’t die for an abstract concept. But no, they can’t understand, won’t understand. Must jump from the 17th floor, and create a news. Who cares even for that news these days. Like, who cared for my frustration and disillusionment, above all disgust with myself. Disgusting. I am disgusted. I failed so badly, at the hands of a bunch of stupid self-seekers.

But why did you ever think of such a project? Revolution! Change! Making the world better! Isn’t it funny? Are you a weird person? Abnormal. You can’t live like other people?

I don’t know. I am weird or what? But I must be different. Not my fault. Nature created me different. It must have designed me queer. Otherwise, why should I have felt responsible for, first my family, in fact, my father’s family, chiefly his responsibility, and then all the deprived and miserable people. Most of the people are what you call normal. They live their own lives, fend for themselves. By hook or by crook, manage to rise in life, gain respect and become prosperous. But me…

Why become presumptuous and think that you are destined to lead the thought-process of the human race and facilitate the change in its outlook? Isn’t it your ego that speaks through your words and actions?

No, not ego, nor superiority complex. It is the attitude and passion. Most of the people live ordinary lives, perform their routine duties, and don’t realize their potential as humans or what I call their inner strength. Wordsworth summed it up in one line : We lay waste our powers  earning and spending. They remain unconcerned with their surroundings; they take them as ‘given’, and never bother if they could be improved upon. They lack passion and intensity to live fully to their mental potential. In fact, most of them never think beyond their basic needs. It is in their context that scientists have arrived at the conclusion that man hardly uses five per cent of his brain power. Man’s brain is more powerful than hundreds of supercomputers together, and if he uses it, he can work wonders and facilitate Nature’s evolutionary process. Nature doesn’t want man to creep and crawl like insects, it wants him to mentally grow and rise to the highest levels. If he lives with passion and intensity, every moment of his life would be full of joy and thrill. His monumental achievements would change the shape of the world and his life on this beautiful planet. But he chooses a life of ease and lethargy and loses the race of living a meaningful and purposeful life. 

But most of them are more successful in life than you, and gain respect and position while you…

I am sorry to say, but it is true, you are a big failure in life…

Success! Success and failure don’t define anybody’s life. Browning, in The Last Ride Together, very succinctly puts it:

            Fail I alone, in words and deeds?
            Why, all men strive and who succeeds?

Success lies in whether you have used your natural gifts to the best of your ability and strived to achieve the goals you set yourself. Rest, the results depend upon many other factors. Yes, I tried my best. That is all. Here is Browning, once again, telling you

            What hand and brain went ever paired?
            What heart alike conceived and dared?
            What act proved all its thought had been?
            What will but felt the fleshly screen?

In the opinion of those who rate success so highly, Vincent Van Gogh, one of the greatest painters of the world, was a big failure. Creative writers and artists, inventors and researchers, where are they in material terms? Most of them are financial disasters. Behind every success, there are a hundred failures. But they live in their own world. Worshippers of beauty, not of gold. They have a moral and social responsibility. Forbes’ list of the richest persons in the world changes every month, and they are in constant fear of losing their position. Have you ever seen anybody getting a Nobel Prize for the strength of his wealth.

What is true wealth? Shakespeare shines eternally and guides the human race with the gems of his eternal truths. I still remember Shelley’s poem, Ozymandias, an eye-opener for those who grab the wealth of the world and then brag about their hollowness. Had wealth given some pertinent meaning to life, Bill Gates, once the richest man of the world, should not have donated eighty per cent of his wealth to charity. No, it is your commitment to social responsibility that turns you great. Mahatma Gandhi became the craze of the world only because he thought of others, not of himself. No wonder, even his enemies looked at him with awe and wonder. The man who rooted out the British imperialism from the face of the earth, gets a statue installed outside their   Parliament. 

Greatness is measured in terms of your strength of character, your selfless goals for humanity, and your moral and spiritual convictions. They may not, because of their inability to  go beyond ‘self’, be able to rise near to his level, but they realize he is an exceptional being, a great gift of Nature to humanity. At heart, even his enemies appreciate his astounding greatness, and, sooner or later, fall for him.

Yes, yes…Great human beings…They are so different… Inexplicable…So baffling….

A great mystery, this life. Mysteries of Nature confound it all the more. I got the genes of different values. I thought of others, not of myself. Responsibility, sacrifice, carefulness, sensitivity…My God, I don’t know wherefrom I got them. My parents were making babies, and I felt they were my responsibility. You may agree or not, like it or not, it is Nature’s not whim, but purpose to create fools so that they can take care of certain things or people. Nature does that from time to time. Creates individuals who turn the tide of history or give a new direction to the thought-process of the human race. No, don’t laugh. I am not putting myself in the line of great and illustrious people who have changed the course of human history. But Gandhi or Lincoln, King or Mandela, just to name a few, there is a long list of such celebrated and glorious individuals, they too must have been dubbed as weird and abnormal. Ordinary people can’t understand their greatness, they can’t even stand them, and thus most of them are killed or crucified. 

Nature always sends such people to create the balance, which is destroyed time and again by the people, evil forces dominating the good, or even for facilitating the evolutionary process. Most of the people are happy living normal, thoughtless lives, even if they are not enslaved and persecuted. Perhaps they don’t even realize there can be a better life for them. No, it is not the divine will that people should suffer the ignominy of the unjust system. But power is to blame for the unjust social system. Money is the main culprit because power too comes through money, and the so-called elite sections of the society who happen to be rich, because of their cunning, superior intellect or certain favorable circumstances that provide them the opportunity, devise and design the system in such a way that most of the people remain deprived and live at the mercy of the rich and the powerful. When oppression goes beyond tolerable limits, Nature intervenes. You find a great man, fearless champion of the downtrodden and the suffering, giving a lead and forcing the system to change or give concessions. Things improve, and they call such persons Messiahs. In fact, they are great thinkers who sacrifice their lives for the sake of others. Now everybody cannot be a Gandhi or Mandela. But anyone who has that spirit of sacrifice for others and is ready to work with a revolutionary zeal, he does make a difference, maybe at the family level, village level, community level or national level. His name may not figure in history books, but…And there are many such self-effacing persons working silently, passionately and doing their bit. They do make a difference.

They do make a difference.


More by :  Dr. O.P. Arora

Top | Perspective

Views: 266      Comments: 1

Comment Great perspective!!

The last lines speak succinctly - "His name may not figure in history books, but…And there are many such self-effacing persons working silently, passionately, and doing their bit...."
These 'quiet' achievers do not get distracted, do not boast, and are ever consistent.

I also enjoyed these poetic expressions...
"My heart throbbed with hope. My soul flowered like the Miracle Garden., flowed like the Ganga and expanded like the Indian Ocean."

Hema Ravi
23-Apr-2024 00:04 AM

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