This article discusses some of the ways to make semblance of things around us in today’s postmodern( and certainly rootless and superficial )society.
These are strange times. At schools we must bring bags with us rather than being able to just carry the needful books in our hands, in and out of the class. Why? Because it is just some sort of an expectation. At offices, we can seldom openly bring our own lunches and are required to sit and eat at the places where everyone else is eating. Why? Another form of a dogma. In airlines, people, for heaven’s sake, can’t shake a rattle too much if their kid is crying due to some secret form of conduct of silence if flying!
In present times, characterized by invasive media technologies, the decay of social loyalties and identifications, loss of face to face interactions, bolstered by cultural elements that further promote these nefarious attributes, it would not be too overzealous to say that we are living in a world where we do not have any real sense of ourselves. Also in the current times, marked by rootlessness and superficial; ways, the sense of human greatness is being fractured all around us and we are constantly losing this great possibility to define and live our possibilities on our own terms. So a question is: what can we do about this situation, as limited as our selves might be?
- Believe in yourself
A society might be called the force that carries an individual like a river carries a boat but it possesses no distinction of its own. It grows no grain. It can’t overcome disease. It can’t think like a warrior. Or it does no good. That’s all the responsibility of the people who form a society. Hence, people must believe in themselves, as they are the ones who wield the real power to shape their societies. A very fantastic example that comes to mind is that of Winston Churchill’s, who, despite risks associated with being a leader in the path of danger and frightening insecurity of WW1, remained unmovable, convincing the people to follow his example, whatever the horror or threat of attack. On one instance, while Churchill was on an inspection tour, seeing people being pulled out from rubbles of their houses teary eyed, a woman asked him: “When are we going to bomb Berlin?” Churchill replied commandingly “You leave that to me”. This immediately raised spirits of tired and down-trodden survivors around him, and turned an atmosphere of hopelessness into one with hope with only a few words. And as history has shown, Churchill turned out to be one of the most effective leaders and a force of nature when it came to being an agent of positive change.
Another example is of heroic responses observed in various countries to tackle COVID 19 situations. One such instance is how Taiwan managed the herculean task of bringing early spread of the disease from Wuhan travellers under control despite any amount of immense wealth, scientific prowess or history of public health successes. Taiwan implemented large scale testing and increased the production of face marks four times. It also provided intensive support, stipends etc to make people follow public health recommendations. These actions allowed the country to keep its cases under 800 all year around, while avoiding lockdown, whereas there was still a complete feeling of loss and tumult in countries all around. Hence, as the saying goes where there is a will there’s a way!
2. Make an active use of your voice to reach out to others
Another restraint that we can strongly sense nowadays is lack of openness and loss of an independent identity, be it in our discourses, our preferences of tv soaps, or the dress code at our offices. One way we all can preserve ourselves from this dilemma is using our voices actively in our communities, towns, and municipalities. This can definitely allow us to claim ownership of our individual rights and prove to others our awareness about our freedoms of expression, which can be a very strong tool to safeguard ourselves from malice and abuse of power. One historical instance that exemplifies this audacity is the fight against Apartheied in South Africa. Resistance over the years took place in the form of non-violent demonstrations, protests and strikes to political action and eventually to armed resistance. This ultimately proved to the international society that the segregationist “umbrella” under which the Apartheied movement had operated had neither brought peace nor prosperity to the nation. And hence, by 1994 the official end of the movement was achieved, bringing enfranchisement for the people of colour and other groups.
But a voice of reason can say here that the “ordinary”, bringing up a child to be reasonably strong and well balanced, or getting an early night, or doing a job, which might not talk-of-the-town, responsibly and proudly etc, can all be fun, sexy, meaningful and desirable. What’s all the furor about being all-out then? Well one answer to the dilemma is that one actually has to break free out of the ordinary to realize how one can use his/her extraordinary gifts to be able to think outside of the box, to see beauty where others fail to see it or to bring in creative solutions where others haven’t tried. And one can’t fully achieve any of it unless one doesn’t give his/her skills set and tools a try.
3. Love yourself and be proud of it
Furthermore, invest time, effort and money in honing yourself and then bringing the best out in others too. In today’s postmodern society, which embraces repetition over novelty, shuns originality and fancies copies, and derides depth and finds meaning in superficiality, the answer to many of our problems lies in embracing our uniqueness, celebrating our individuality, learning to love ourselves and being open to give or take help to build a stronger you. And to realize what the true essence of such superlative contentment is, we need look no further than feel the worth of simple ideals, like joining girls/boy scout during high school years to voluntarily play our part in helping the underprivileged, or some voyeurism to bring some excitement and rejuvenation in our married lives or going off our ways in the evening, while returning back, tired from our work, to pick up our kid’s favourite takeout. The moral: Learn to love yourself and find possibilities in your lives in new ways.
Another aspect of today’s life include blandness and some abnormal practices such as aloofness, lack of proper face to face interactions or lack of excitement in our routines becoming a norm. The work life is so fast paced that we are constantly burdened with inflow off work without being able to afford any breaks. Our communities are creating more and more celebrities, whose lives are in stark contrast with ours, rather than creating heroes. Money is evermore concentrated in the hands of a few. So how to relieve ourselves from this sense of patheticness? The answer: Try to break out of this everyday banality and start experiencing this wondrous life and all that it has to offer. Be. Colour your hair red. Call that friend with whom you once broke up and take them out, as if you want to amass all the friendships possible in life. Or take 10 minutes out every morning to meditate and really relax. Or buy those stocks and shares and religiously top up your account every month with the hope and anticipation of buying an upgraded musical instrument yourself at the end of the year’s end. So as the saying goes: Viva La Vida!
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