I was watching an Elon Musk interview yesterday, and he said several things, that I believe, all of us, as the human civilisation need to think about. I take the liberty, here, of paraphrasing him, and using his argument to further my own interests. He says, that we need to think of ways to wonder, to continue looking forward to the future, with happiness, and with gaiety. In between the larger disarray of the modern times, there remain only a few moments that present themselves adorned with potential, and I strongly believe, that, in science, as in the regular lives of our political selves, these moments all contribute towards building of the future of the human civilisation. Such an event was the Ramjas Jan Sunvaayi, on the ninth of February, this year. There had to be a larger irony in play, for the date to be the same as that of the Jawaharlal Nehru University event, two years before. I entered late, as the meeting was already underway, because I wasn’t expecting much. Not to say, that I didn’t look forward to it. I did, just not ‘much.’ The turn from the Ramjas canteen, took me by shock because the usual dotted appearance of the Amphitheater, and its surrounding area, was not to be seen.
And instead, for the first time, in a long time, the architecture was being put to use, in its proper sense. As students, sat, curved into a circle, crowding towards the center, as the eye of a hurricane, or the froth, on the surface of a colding tea, unmoved by the stillness of a summer day. Ab- was talking, and so were the people around, and the people within, the circle, that stood out. A strange return to the images of Athenian democracies, and images of Socrates, and men, of greater self hoods, painted in the varied colours of a, superficially, consumer-oriented economy. All was well, and in several ways, the national melancholy that hung over my vision, like eyelids heavy for the want to sleep, dissipated into nothingness. A strange sense of activity, tremors from a disturbed repose, instead, took its place. The problems that were being discussed were problems associated with a long and timely culture that had somehow been allowed to creep into the pipes and veins of Ramjas, and this country, invisible but ubiquitous. Invisible, hence ubiquitous. In the sole expression, the culture was called out, and to the expunging of any sewage, to recognise the scent and call it out, is the first step. Only years and years of democratic despondency, sewage, will, of course, take years and years of, first, calling out.
The merriment of democratic discussion lasted for a while, before a lady, M-, from the crowd, got up and mentioned, that A-, who then was boldly talking, of ladies and their right to pee, in equality with men, that A-, who was voicing opinions of noble spirit, dressed in subtle politics of his own self-interest, painting those in power, in negative shades, to further his own brand of the same colour, had at once, messaged the lady’s friend, on Instagram. And on Instagram he had, asked the friend about a wound on her nose, or something other. To imagine that men, of the modern day, would pass their while, in staring at girls, is a strong comment, on the manner in which women are made aware, of their appearance, the superficial, the visible, and in that pursuit, pushed beyond the precepts of reasonable creation. But simultaneously understand, how the human has fallen into considerations of such sorts, while the mind has been forcefully pushed into decay, into animal-like behavior, removed from civic virtue and order. Anyway, A-, then felt attacked, and pounced back, and slowly the froth, dissipated away, the cloud of national melancholy, returned with its placid acidity: a hurricane dead, a mist again . I didn’t stay for long after that, because I had a debate to go to, at Kirori Mal, and I could do without a larger share of that common disposition, the doleful haze. I had enough of my own.
The slight trouble, though, revealed a larger question to me.
We often find ourselves in the critical position of being able to question our hard-held beliefs, and the manners we have impersonated off of the general social structures, in the course of education, and often with that understanding, comes the responsibility to utilise that reason towards the betterment of the united whole. But any questioning of the same, results in recoil, in retaliatory violence, and doubt. The human and the humane resist change, but change also happens to be the core tenet of humanity. In this situation, how do we pursue change, without being disturbed or destroyed? In this situation, if there happen to be errors of the graver, and the slighter kind, how do we pursue change, without one at the cost of the other? These are questions that came to me when the M-’s questioning urged further progress, and deeper reason, but for the cost of which, the established sense of calm and peace, at the Ramjas Jan Sunvayi, against the crept in culture of a corrupt and sleazy administration, against the authoritarianism of the (Officiating) Principal, had to be, momentarily, sacrificed.
I haven’t found the answer yet, but I did happen to come about a few lines of verse, in Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Criticism, that can aid us in understanding the nature of knowledge disparity, and dispensation. I do not claim to make any sense out of them, and I do not know if the current times allow for Pope’s privileged position, but regardless, his discussion, in the 1700s, of the questions that haunt me now, becomes a source of comfort that has stood the test of time; looks into the past, for answers to questions that build the future.
“ ‘Tis not enough your counsel still be true;
Blunt truths more mischief than nice falsehoods do;
Men must be taught as if you taught them not,
And things unknown proposed as things forgot.
Without good breeding truth is disapproved;
That only makes superior sense beloved.”