Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Middle of Middle!

About 360 Million years ago, the tadpole-shaped being had to make a decision. Whether it wanted to continue being in water, or if it wanted to move to land. For a while, it dawdled on the cusp, becoming an Amphibian. But a few years later, it took to the land, and evolution has never been the same ever again. Modern Humans appeared on the scene about 200000 years ago, and what has fuelled their evolution to the smart being typing this article today is the ability to take a side and make it work, each time they were faced with two or more options.

We have always celebrated people who've taken a firm path and have made a difference. We have been taught in personality development sessions that those who don't stand for something fall for anything. Mahatma Gandhi and Mohammed Jinnah took firm stands, and they're fathers of their respective nations. 

But after independence, something changed. Through the generations, we've been taught that the skills we must possess are those of taking the middle path and of being diplomatic. We have lost our ability to listen to a forceful opinion - however well it could be presented. Taking the middle path became fashionable. The way we treat thought leaders (unless the rest of the society agrees with them already) is quite rotten!

And as we often do, we created a new set of words to make ourselves sound cool, and we created an Urban Dictionary to change the usages of other words. Leadership and Diplomatic became synonyms. Liberal meant being accepted, and Taking strong sides meant being shunned. Talking about problems in our area became cynical, and promoting causes in faraway continents made you sociable.

I'm not sure if this is a global epidemic, but in India atleast, no one could possibly have missed this. 

Being Left wing or Right wing is not acceptable to the population at large. You have to be a liberal, and there are stages of liberalism now. 50 Shades of Grey is real, and it is living in India. Neo-Liberal, Ultra-Liberal, Liberal-Classical, no end to our creativity in coining new terms!

From the days of Poorna Swaraj (when nothing else would do), we've stooped down to considering fourth fronts as a viable alternative? What made us so terrified of taking a side?

I think the answer lies in our ability to discern. We are so afraid of our society and its tremendous ability to shun people for the least of faults, that we have trained our intellect to not delve deep. Mediocrity has become the order of the day, and for a whole generation, its become a lifestyle.

To take sides, we have to ask ourselves questions.  To take sides, we need to know their driving philosophies. To know about their philosophies, we need to spend time to read and to understand. That ability is lost in most people. So there is problem number one.

We are so terrified of taking a stand, that we have grown accustomed to bearing with mediocrity. Honestly, there are anyway no staunch Left and Right that exist today. Even in what we have taken to calling Left and Right, we've created a middle path, and the middle is always mediocre. Always. But that's ok with us. Our jobs, our education, our movies, our achievements. Mediocre is the new 'It', and all hail It!

Not just politically; Bureaucracy and Babudom have become so ingrained in our upbringing, we banter words like Diplomacy, Balance, Negotiation, Sensitivity, Win-Win as soft skills in colleges and the corporate. The words are all fine, but what isn't is the intention with which we want our people to learn these. We don't want strong opinions. Right from kindergarten, we keep hammering the edges, and the youngster comes into the market dull edged. Then we tell him that he isn't sharp!

Even editorials, those shining beacons of journalistic excellence, have mostly lost their edges. When titles like 'India Crosses the moral line of no return if Narendra Modi becomes Prime Minister' come up as editorials, we know we're in a bad shape. What is wrong with crossing lines? Evolution evolved only because we crossed lines. Why do we want our people to stay within a set of lines? And who drew those lines? 

Amphibians - Turtles, Crocodiles, Snakes - have remained as they were millions of years ago. We humans kept burning lines as we evolved. There are no Neanderthal men anymore. We crossed a line, and became Homo Sapiens. India and Pakistan split; and they grew in their ways. The area in dispute - POK - has been like that for decades.

There is nothing wrong with taking a side. Being in the middle of the middle is where the rot happens.

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