Support Hazare at own peril
The Yaksha asked Yudhishtra -what is the most surprising feature of human existence? Yudhishtra’s reply was “the fact that we all know that we are mortal, yet behave in a manner as though we will live for ever”.
The insight is useful in understanding how we all can shout slogans, take up candle marches and keep symbolic fasts in response to Mr. Hazare’s clarion call, and, totally ignore the fact that in the ultimate analysis, his real fight is with us and our obscene life styles. It is tempting to delude ourselves into believing that he is fighting only against the Rajas, Rajus and Kalmadis, and the rest of us are only enjoying the priviledges due to us by our merit and earned by us through our hard earned money. It is tempting to close our eyes to the fact that we are all beneficiaries of an exploitative, inequitable and corrupt superstructure. It is tempting to ignore the fact that in almost all organizations the ratio of highest paid person to lowest paid person is in excess of 100 to 1, and in several cases it runs into four, five or even six figures. It is tempting to not take notice of the fact that a very small portion of mankind consumes over 80 percent of our natural resources. It is tempting to condone all kinds of dubious practices by marketeers, advertisers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, media people, NGO activists and several others in different walks of life as “necessary part of the game”.
After all we are all trying to get ahead, aren’t we? We must keep up with the joneses and we must chase every new consumeristic toy, which is dangled before us, without even recognising that we are doing so. If in the process we have to collude directly or indirectly with blatant lies and misuse of power in our homes, in our work places, in our immediate communities, then so be it.
Perhaps no one understood this process better than Gandhi did . He used to say “my fight is not with the Angrez(British) but with Angraziyat(imperial mind set)”. Sadly we have thrown out the Angrez but embraced Angraziyat even more. Presumably Gandhians like Hazare understand this and hence they are inviting us to struggle not just against the Rajus, Rajas and the Kalmadis, but with ourselves.
Decades back Gandhi asked us to burn all imported clothes – in a sense he was asking us to say good bye to a way of living. Today, we are required to do the same except that we have got so much more steeped into it that it seems a virtual impossibility.
Hazare’s call is not just for a bill. It invites us to take a closer and honest look at how each one of us is involved in this process and contributing to it. The only real and meaningful response to it would be to say good-bye to a way of life, which we have embraced in the name of progress and modernity. But is it really possible for us to do so? I don’t think so; at least it is not possible for me to give up the priviledges, which I enjoy no matter how inequitable they may appear to my conscience. After all my conscience is only a part of me. I am also a captive of my habits and creature comforts. Please understand Mr Hazare, I have travelled a long distance on this path and it is not possible now to retrace my steps all together.
The only thing I can realistically do is to atleast stop walking this path of personal and collective destruction. I may not be able to say good bye to all the luxuries, creature comforts and inequitable priviledges that I have got accustomed to, but I can at least bind them, set a limit to them and to the extent possible, not get embroiled in them any further.
That’s the best I can do Mr Hazare.
about the author:
Ashok Malhotra is a management consultant who has nearly four decades of experience of working with individuals, groups and organizations in the areas of personal growth and organization. He is one of the founders of “Sumedhas Academy for Human Context” and has published several articles in professional journals and presented papers in many national and international conferences.
Ashok in June 2010, published his first book called “The Child Man – The Selfless Narcissist” published by Routledge Publications.
Through the stories such mythological figures as Balarama, Duryodhana and Bhima, the “Child Man” explores the potent but deeply ambivalent aspect of the human psyche that neither listens to the voice of reason, nor easily submits to social and moral conventions. Like a child, it relentlessly pursues whatever catches its fancy and keeps playing with fire. This energy can, equally help us actualize our heroic potential or set us on the path to self destruction. The key to making this energy positive lies in what we do with the emotional and psychic wounds which are a necessary part of our growth.
Ashok calls himself a compulsive gambler and has often departed from the straight and the narrow.
He lives in Bangalore and can be contacted at ashokmal(nine)at gmail dot com