“toute nation a le gouvernment qu’elle me’rite” Joseph de Maistre
As the tide of ignorance sweeps into our houses of democracy, our reaction, it seems, is to roll up the cuffs of our trousers and mutter under our breath, with disgust “thieving politicians”, as we wade our way onto drier land. Those that do put up defenses against this tide ,their voices are simply drowned out by the clamoring empty vessels.
The youths response to our socioeconomic and political vagaries can be summed up as yelping, and bleating of a few non intelligible sentences “politicians are corrupt”, “police are corrupt” “India…….” (I ll let you fill that portion out, I am sure you have heard a myriad of ways describe our “brotherly” neighbor). I hope the word Dhoti hasn’t been omitted, rarely has a garment transcended its basic necessary purpose to that of an insult and become symbolic of our ignorance and xenophobia. The dhoti, I must admit is quite comfortable- don’t worry I am sticking to my pants it was a little too airy, catch my drift -I apologize. I digress.
Well, I must ask how often have we sat back with a sense of having said something intelligent and incisive. Accompanied with look of self validation of ones existence-Rene Decartes, el cogito ergo sum should perhaps have been “I think (critically) therefore I am”. It might have done us more good. How much effort does it really require to spew out “politicians are corrupt”.
In ancient Athens, Socrates wandered around the agora questioning common truths held by Athenians, as to what it is to be noble, or what is bravery… this questioning method is what we have come to know as the Socratic method. Socrates of course was persecuted, and later died tragically, but honorably, for his beliefs ( as it is usually the case with people who are beyond their time). The parliament is our agora, and we must ask our representatives, like Socrates did with the Generals and Senators of his day, what they think, and more importantly bring to light how they think. But to do this we must also “grow up” as it were. We need to lead an “examined life” as well, we need to question any hint of racism, casteism, religious bigotry wherever we find it, whether it is in ourselves, Facebook pages or chai pasal conversations.
Let us become the generation that isn’t swayed by slogans, and speeches. But, rather become citizens who are able to question domestic, foreign, environmental and financial policies with in depth knowledge, rather than discussing sound bites. To think like everyone else, and live in the comfort of consensus is a poisoned chalice. Let us question everything, let reason prevail.
Think of how history will remember us, will our progeny, remember this generation as the one that finally turned the tide or the ones who were swept away without resistance.