‘I cannot teach anybody anything. I can make them only think’.
Here we are not with the butcher’s chopping blocks or with the AK 47s. Nor we flaunt ‘56 inch-wide chest’ to throw gauntlets in. Dare-devil stunts we don’t prefer. Columnists, of average IQ, infatuated with a passion. We analyze, to our limited ability, what we perceive and accordingly formulate an opinion. Fatwa we don’t deliver , simply express ourselves. It is for the readers to weigh us in their own scales. We haven’t any forcing instrument to make them suck our ideas and buy their loyalty . Simply we make a point and it is for the people to agree or disagree, hail it or rebut it.
Comments stream ‘campaign ’when we deride ourselves into poster boys and lose our moral bone. And from smeared conscience, remember, only stuttered narratives emanate, with no convincing force. Lose the chastity of your pen, you lose the soul of your individuality. You walk with a borrowed demeanor. Even in that new avatar an analyst can’t be a dinner feast of hungry hounds having different political or ideological pastures. Others too can hire a more competent one to squeeze other out. In a political Wal-Mart ‘spin-doctoring’ cannot be monopolized, others too can manage it to wash off the opposite. Who locks them to the bind.
It is topicality of issues that stimulates a response from the writer. As the situation demands he opens up, in a lukewarm mode or in hot crisp expression. The curbs are justified only when he violates decency and uses derogatory language, commits blasphemy. Who does not know truth is always bitter and ‘provocating’. Conformists always enjoy comforts and dissenters the wrath, growling, even death warrants. It is nervous mind not the situation from which sets in alarm bells and the repressive tactics. Inquisition courts owe their jurisdiction to frenzied paranoiacs for burning at stake the non-conformists who committed the heresy of looking, saying, believing and thinking differently. ‘Excuses’ you need not to provide, they are fermented by the hypersensitive breed the moment you touch on the raw nerves, irrespective of the Celsius scale of your write up. A certain fear-psychosis overwhelms them in desperation. Frustrated they look for redemption devices to coerce you into saying ‘earth is flat’ or stalk you to rethink.
Like any individual or a politician a columnist too is entitled to his ideology and propagate it. He has right to support or oppose a view point . Any one who feels offended has equal right to oppose him and expose his ‘biased’ approach, ‘fixated’ outlook and ‘pay-role’ status, through the same medium of expression, of course.
Skipping from against that polite and civilized manner if instead bullying tactics are used to muzzle the pen , it is indeed proclamation of defeat, manifestation of autocratic temperament . Pen has to be answered with pen not by threatening. When foot replaces mouth in belligerence, the “gentlemen” are to be pitted for catching ‘foot-mouth disease’. And the immediate remedy one can suggest is quarantining them from normal beings.
There are no gods we propitiate, no saints we pay obeisance at. In fact we have left no one untouched (rather unscathed), irrespective of his status and grandeur, out of our radar. Far from serving a hireling or being an ear-ring of a political group, we have always tried to be our own when, in the words of E E Commings, ‘everyone is trying to make you be somebody else’. Who gets annoyed or appeased has never intervened in our thoughts to determine the preferences. Save our own Conscience Constituency we have no other constituency to feed and no lords to please, nor any courts to adore. That hunger is scared to all blood relations and material pursuits.
Threats and intimidators cannot dampen the spirits. Rather they strengthen the faith that we are on the right side. Socrates has died but not his legacy. He has an unending line of inheritors.
In whatever ways they have come to center stage, by inheritance or causally, the political leaders are in public domain and cannot escape public scrutiny. They need to cultivate the habit of accommodating the dissent. They need to give up the Pavlovian Conditioning and not get panicked. The threshold of their tolerance has to match with their public stature. After all a leader should have a grace, a poise and a captivating dignity; a stateliness. A leader should look different from a lumpen, from the one in drunken stupor. As recently a head of a political party has realized, hooliganism always rebounds back and harms the leader more than the critic. Asserting the Monopoly of violence is always counter-productive.
It would be mean of us not to admit and appreciate the tolerance of Indian mainstream leaders who, despite being consistently berated on their ‘ opportunistic and deceptive’ politics have never frowned us down, though they have state at their back. Resistance leaders, at least some of them with low immunity level need to take a leaf from their book of patience.
Tail-piece: ‘Pity the knowledgeable’, said our beloved Prophet SAW, ‘whom ignorant laugh over’!!! When that happens, epidemic of flattening minds is not far away. Are we nearing for the tragedy to fold?