Jane, Get Me Off This Crazy Thing! – Day XXIII – NaPoWriMo 2014

Through streets of dust
And fields of green
Amidst opposition flags
And skies unseen

We travel on
Hoping against hope
To muster courage
So we can cope

There are smiles and waves
And showers of cheers
That help deflect
The few rare jeers

An innocent face smiles
And blows me a kiss
And it’s moments like that
That’s I may miss

There are grating moments too
People I can’t stand
Who push my last nerve
With their selfish demands

Can I do this or not
I don’t know, I can’t tell
I need a break
I need out of this hell

This is how it is
Stuck between two worlds
Time to get off this roller coaster
Before I go and hurl

Cloudy With A Chance of Existentialism – Day VIII – NaPoWriMo 2014

I remember these stars
I stood below them a lifetime ago
Not knowing what was before me
Nor caring

These are the same skies
‘Neath which I played as a child
With friends long lost
Now found again

But though the heavens above remain unshaken
The men below have changed
They have lost innocence once held dear
Traded for discord and disharmony

They have hardened themselves
Drawn lines in the sand
Lines crossed too often
Yet not oft enough

They have “grown up”
Taken larger affairs in hand
Speaking of morality and governance and national growth indexes
Ignoring what they cannot reconcile

It used to be so simple, so clear
Black and white
Before the world became cloudy
Before the world became gray

I miss that child from long ago
Who played hide and seek amongst the gunny sacks
And smiled from opens jeeps with a flag in hand
Throwing stickers to the crowds

But that chubby little cherub is long gone
And I think I’m rambling
I think I’ve gone off track
I think we all have…

Into the Pit – Day I – NaPoWriMo 2014

Love and adoration, treachery and hate
A system flawed and inchoate
Some tote progress and grand ideas
Some preach hate and prey on fears

Drowned by millions, what is but one voice?
A idiot or a murderer they said – What a choice!
Both hold rank and station and power
Both their words on the masses shower

On gilded camels, dressed all in White
See the champions enter the fight
With wooden teeth and hollow smiles
See the cattle single file

See them hold in tight embrace
While you still stand ahead in the race
See them shout and cheer and slogan
While intricate webs are more intricately woven

When duty calls we must heed
If called for blood, we must bleed
Soon shall we triumph, if it is seen fit
So now, young warrior, into the pit

I’m ‘Fast’ Losing My Patience

I have bitten my tongue again and again as one man pretty much turns the Indian political scene into a joke (and that’s saying a lot considering how messed up things are in that particular area already). Arvind Kejriwal, the “activist turned politician” (as the media loves to dub him – I beg to differ, in part) has announced that he is going to fast in order to drum up support for his latest “cause”. He is asking people not to pay their water and power bills, saying they are illegal and unnecessary hiked up.

Mr. Kejriwal has promised that his supporters should not fear any legal action in not paying their bills, because all such actions will be withdrawn once his party comes to power in the city. Wow. I really have to say, that I would actually be impressed by this man’s confidence, if I didn’t think he was rather full of hot air. What burns me up even more than the fact that he is basically telling people to break the law, is that he is using the words of Mahatma Gandhi to justify it. He states that Mahatma Gandhi said that people should not obey a Government/law that is against them and be prepared to face the consequences. Right, well, Mr. Kejriwal I would but point out two things. First, Gandhi spoke of rising up against a tyrannical alien government where people had no voice over the law that imposed upon them. I don’t think he had in mind protesting against any, and in your case, every, government action that upsets the public. Secondly, it’s hardly asking people to be steadfast and face the consequences if you’re offering them what amounts to a get out of jail free card, as long as they support you. While some people will hear a proposition like that and dismiss it as ludicrous, many will presume that this is a promise that will be fulfilled. Let us be realistic here, do you actually think that dozens (if not scores or hundreds) of actions will magically disappear the day Mr. Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi party takes power (IF they take power)?

Does anyone remember when all this started by the way? When the name Anna Hazaare was on the tip of every tongue in Delhi? Does anyone remember the promise “our movement will NEVER enter politics”? Does anyone know where Mr. Hazaare is today?

I have no doubt that Mr. Kejriwal has many ardent supporters who will defend his actions and take offense to my words here. They have that right. It’s a free country right? And to many extents I am absolutely pro the message Mr. Kejriwal says he stands for, as I was in support of the message of the movement that launched his new career. But I fear my support for them stops there. Using fasts and dharnas to try to hold the government hostage; taking advantage of disillusioned people who feel like no one is looking out for them and making promises like his latest one to dismiss all actions against people who don’t pay their bills; I’m sorry, but it’s just not kosher in my mind. I’m not saying that the Congress or BJP or any other party doesn’t do the same thing. Its politics right? People make promises. Some they live up to, some they don’t. But painting yourself as above all that, while at the same time making even grander promises, that’s just hypocritical. Mr. Kejriwal, you have already entered the political arena, something you said you would never do. If you insist on flinging mud, kindly get off your high horse.

I will also openly admit that I have some personal animosity towards Mr. Kejriwal. But I have done my best not to let that influence anything I have said here. If anyone feels bias has clouded my judgment, I am open to listening to your opinions, as long as they are expressed in a calm manner and make no personal attacks. Please keep in mind, everything I have said here is a judgement of Mr. Kejriwal’s politics, and not his humanity. I’ll leave that to someone more familiarly acquianted with Mr. Kejriwal, something I do not wish to be.

Corrupted

It is a plague upon each heart and mind
A cancer upon each soul it finds
From noble home and hearth they came
Soon to rise by raising blame

It tore them up and built them anew
All the while their hearts it drew
Into seductive darkness so mystifying
Until they stood no longer knowing that they were dying

They came once upon a time
Full of vigor, in their prime
But each step in the sand proved too harsh
‘Til strength no longer was left to march

Their kingdom come did fall from high places
As the wolfish smile did don their faces
They crossed the desert so long and weary
But the price they paid was o so dreary

Their words of wine did turn to vinegar
Conferring upon themselves, the title of harbinger
Of truth! Of justice! Of freedom sought
For all the ideals for which they once fought

But they are mere words now that fall so hollow
Making each next lie a little easier to swallow
They are justified they say, they do what it takes
That deep below real diamonds hide, below exteriors faked

It’s how the world works, get used to it sonny!
The truth is it does take some lies and money
You can sit aside and judge, if you think you should
But the truth is it takes evil to bring out good

It may be true that I simplify
It may be true that I have an idealistic eye
I may be naive, I may be a child
Refusing to see just how real the world is, how wild

I need to know that the world can be better
That integrity is worth more than the postage on a letter
I once thought I had mentors of highest daunting
Whom I looked upon for guidance when I found the world wanting

But I have seen now how wild the world is, how real
I have seen that sometimes it takes more than just zeal
I have seen that sometimes you must trip your opponents in the mud to win the race
I have seen angels, fall from grace

I was almost in a good mood, then I went online

I am probably the last person to want to comment on the state of the nation, whatever that nation may be; or talk about the degeneration of society; or get into fights with people over “one man’s terrorist…” and all that bull. I’m not saying I don’t get into those skirmishes once in a while. I’m just saying, I’m not a fan.

And its not that I don’t know whats going. Of course I have opinions. And even though I may not be the most well-informed when it comes to world politics, I know the gist. I log on to the news apps on my phone – Time, The New Yorker, TOI, HT – and I fill myself in on what’s going on. I watch the highlight reel if you will. And more importantly, I listen to what people say and I try to open my mind to new ideas and perspectives.

And trust me I care. It truly causes me physical pain to read some of the things that people say online. And I want so much to comment or try and add to their dialogue, but its just scary and disheartening how some people refuse to open their minds to any opinion other than their own. Of course I care, but sometimes you get to the point where you would rather just log off and let people just be, as long as they don’t get in your face about it. It just feels sometimes likes there is no way to make a difference in the face of the overwhelming tides of ignorance and hate.

The truth is that the internet has forced us to try and actually come to grips with the idea of “The Freedom of Speech” on a level that I do not think humanity could have ever imagined when we first lauded such ideals. With the exception of a few dictatorial and fascist states everyone in the world believes in the right to free speech or expression or the voice of the people – whatever you want to call it. But how far should we go to protect that right? It seems that every time I go online I come across people who say things that I would find truly reprehensible, if I wasn’t genuinely dumbfounded that someone could be that ignorant or biased or hateful. At what point do we need to step in and draw the line between “the freedom of speech” and “the freedom of hate speech”. Traditionally that line is where it hurts someone. But how can you say that someone spewing hate speech online where anyone can access it isn’t hurting people. Sure maybe he doesn’t pick up a knife or a gun himself, but speech like this antagonizes people who are already frustrated and angry and want someone to blame. You may not be putting the gun in their hand, but you are telling them where to aim.

I actually came across a site today that was dedicated to highlighting the “problem” of “Islamic terrorists”. The site has a ticker widget which shows the supposed number of terrorist attacks that have carried out by Islamic Terrorists since 9/11, a scrolling list of various media articles about Muslims getting arrested, a tab which takes you to various “Mohammed Cartoons” and various propaganda advocating the impeachment of “Obozo” – I ‘m presuming you can figure that one out – Clever as it is (sarcastic eye roll). And why did I go onto a site like this? Because I was looking to pick a fight? Because I wanted to reach out as a “peaceful loving Muslim figure”? No! I went there because this particular blog was on WordPress.com’s list of the “Top Blog Posts” of the day – which it suggested I check out. So basically anyone with a wordpress blog may have landed up here today, now matter how old they are. Wonderful! The blog by the way is called “Creeping Sharia” and I suppose in an alternate universe this person would actually be the exact person that he himself villainizes. I mean is he really that far off from the so called hate mongering terrorist leaders who seduce disillusioned young muslim kids into “fighting for a greater cause” so they can be used as pawns in geo-political battles? I was tempted to share some of the comments that people shared on this blog, to really give you an idea of the level of inhumanity that people like this can bring out in people, but I just cannot make myself do it. I do not want to be responsible for someone who should not be exposed to such material seeing hateful things like that on my blog. If you’re actually interested go see for yourself.

So where does that leave us? Laissez-faire? Freedom for everyone and we’ll just have to deal with the abusers? Enlightened despotism like the old Prussian Czars?

I don’t have an answer. I don’t think anyone does. Its not an easy question.

But its sad that great people have lived lives dedicated to fighting for the right for people to stand up to bullies and despots who have kept them down. Great men like Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru; like George Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.; like Winston Churchill and Voltaire.

I’m not sure why I really wrote this. Its no great treatise on the human condition. Its not a call to arms for people to fight back against hate. I think its just me trying to say, maybe lets not be so angry. Maybe lets try and be a little nicer online. Just because we can say whatever we want, doesn’t mean that we should.

John Milton, an english poet said “Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.” Lets just try and remember to more than just exercise the “argue freely” part.