“There are similarities between absolute power and absolute faith: a demand for absolute obedience, a readiness to attempt the impossible, a bias for simple solutions to cut the knot rather than unravel it, the viewing of compromise as surrender. Both absolute power and absolute faith are instruments of dehumanisation. Hence, absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power.” — Eric Hoffer
The two videos which have gone viral on the internet — the one involving the Sardar of Choti and the other a miserly operative of the curse of feudalism — are encouraging signs of growing awareness at the grassroots level laced with the confidence to question the decrepit masters who have exploited the powerless and the destitute for decades. Seeing them actually stand up to these bullies warmed my heart.
The key question that arises is whether these videos are but two fleeting flashes in the pan, or do they reflect a cardinal change of approach which will be substantive and enduring to sustain the ravages of a counter-assault by the ones whose domain is being threatened? Also, can such a change have the larger appeal to impact the way things have been in the country, beginning with the coming national elections?
Let’s just go back to the fifties, sixties, seventies, even later and try to visualise whether one could imagine an altercation of the kind that is contained in these videos where ordinary young no-bodies are questioning the inherited legitimacy of the beneficiary elite to continue ruling simply by the dint of them hailing from a certain background. The message that exudes from every gesture made and every word spoken in these videos is that the citadels of the rich and the privileged are under assault and may, after all, begin to crumble before the exuberant charge of the meek and the ordinary who, for decades, have been systematically brutalised and dehumanized.
Times may have stayed the same, but times have also changed. The political environment and the social media have brought increased awareness. It has enfranchised the ordinary and the suffering multitudes by making them aware of their relevance to shaping a change
The videos also reflect the obduracy and inhumanness of the beneficiary elite who are visibly caustic and dismissive about the new-found value that these lowly souls attach to a ‘mere vote’. The threats become naked when the lords and the masters castigate the ones who are questioning them by a warning that they would be dealt with on the day of the elections and after. The heartening factor was that the response was not one of subservience. Instead, it was a proud moment that something may actually have stirred the lives of the oppressed and the disadvantaged to realise that they themselves have to fight for their legitimate rights.
According to further reports, two other aspirants to the legislature — Sikandar Bosan, the turncoat, and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the former dummy prime minister — were administered similar treatment when visiting their respective constituency.
The fight between the privileged and the non-privileged is not a new one. It has been there as long as the world has existed. Through centuries, the rich and the powerful have put a vice-like stranglehold around the fate of a vast majority whom they have ever so crassly manipulated. With the passage of time, the fetters have stayed though the faces of the rulers and the ruled have kept changing. The chance of one’s birth has dictated his or her fate through a sickening plethora of traditions and machinations crafted to further perpetuate the captivity so much so that the poor have been reduced to being virtually dependent on the nod of the rich for their very existence.
Times may have stayed the same, but times have also changed. The political environment and the social media have brought increased awareness. It has enfranchised the ordinary and the suffering multitudes by making them aware of their relevance to shaping a change.
We seem to be in the throes of such a time — a time for changing the way things have been in the past and altering the manner these people may have thought of their own life and its growing insignificance in improving their lot.
Together with this enhanced awareness has also come an empowerment that has given them confidence to speak up and dream that they can actually be the arbiters of their fate and that of their future generations.
This is the bubbling confidence which has sent the traditional beneficiary elite scurrying for fabricating newer methods for continued enslavement. The problem is that, this time around, these depraved efforts may be met with unprecedented courage, confidence and conviction.
This is only a first hint of what could be a monumental change. But, change is not there yet. It is only the beginning and the actual change may still be generations away. That is the difficult part. But, then, a beginning is the hardest first step to take.
This could be an ideal start to be turned into a genuine movement to alter the shape of the country and the fate of its people. The sorry part is that there is hardly a soul who may have the clarity and commitment to carry this forward. Instead of investing in the powerless, the political elite have opted for the electable mafia to associate with. In such a situation, there is likelihood that these initial sparks of rebellion may not be able to ignite the fire that is needed for the change to occur.
But, then, these initial sparks can continue glowing to constitute a collective leadership to carry forth the dream. That is possible, and that may still happen. The coming elections may be the first formidable challenge in the path heralding this change.
To propel this further, it has to be ensured that the hold of the traditional mafia on the citadel of power continues to be weakened. The tactics of peer pressure, economic captivity, coercion and the use of other brute and demeaning methods to control the vote bank should be resisted with full force at the command of the people.
The pundits dominating prime-time shows are engaged in promoting one or the other mafia and there is little by way of any change coming through their proclamations. This is how they receive their loaded envelopes. They have to be on board with some racketeer to keep receiving their pound of flesh. Any disruption of this chain is usually referred to as the doing of the unseen powers which are trying to influence the outcome of the elections.
What is needed is the courage to act in spite of these demonic predictions and vote for a bunch of people who would be wedded to the need for a change and who would be willing to work for its advent overriding the interests of the beneficiary mafias in whose hands the state has been reduced to its current calamitous pass. This being a momentous challenge, the question is whether we are really up to it?
In spite of numerous naysayers, I strongly believe in the inevitability of this change. I also have faith that it is the people, the poor and the ordinary souls, who can do it. There is a feeling of a momentum building and, in spite of grave limitations, I believe that there are people at the grassroots who can carry this forward.
They will have to because there is no other way to salvation. It begins by raising your self-esteem. Refuse to remain a part of this dehumanising cycle. Let fetters be gone. Let chains be broken. Smash the barriers and be free. Let this be your song of hope.