Word of the Week #199:

Hominid

Humanity.

How does one define it?

What makes us human?

Is it the best of us, or the worst of us?

Even the scientific community has had major disagreements over the concept. Is it a species? Or a genus? Or a sub-species?

For several centuries, the “best and brightest” of the time believed that certain ethnic groups to be superior to others, a belief that justified the array of atrocities committed at the time. 

Strangely, though, some acts that are defined as inhuman when committed by some (see Holocaust) are brushed under the rug when committed by others (see Bengal famine).

In fact, the entirety of human history is a history of humans committing horrendous atrocities on anyone that seemed even slightly different, be it their clothes, language, skin, hair, eyes, beliefs, handedness, whatever it may be.

The history of humanity is a history of fear and hate.

Humanity lacks humanity.

 

Word of the Week #198:

Orator

So, I am guessing it is common knowledge, by now, that I do have a way with the words.

However, I have never been particularly adept at speaking, especially among strangers. It might seem odd, but I just prefer to sit down and collate my thoughts and write a cogent, concise response to every query I face.

Recently, though, I have been told by people who have known me for several years that I have improved at public speaking, and people who have just come to know me even find it hard to believe that I’m actually not good at it.

“What is your trick?” some of them ask me. “Can you give us any tips?”

I thought long and hard about it, and I think I do have a fair idea of how I have managed to improve at speaking. It is actually simple, though it might not necessarily be easy.

  1. Know who you are.
  2. Know what you want.
  3. Prepare.

Simple, right? But not easy.

 

Word of the Week #197:

Delegate

I have often met people who believe that our role in the democratic system ends with our vote.

That is not true at all.

If anything, that is where our role begins.

You see, when we vote for a person, we are electing that person to be our representative. Hence, the concept of “representative democracy”.

It is expected that this person will represent the interests of the constituents. However, too often, we see our officials represent nothing but their own interests, and at the most those of the people who voted for them.

At this point, there will be some people who will maintain that such behaviour is the true definition of democracy, and that this is what a representative is supposed to do with the people’s mandate.

That, however, is not true.

A democratic government is a government for all the people, not just a favourable subset.

Any government that forgets this fact is due for a rude, and loud, awakening.

Word of the Week #196:

Obstinate

Why do people quit?

Is it a symptom of wisdom, or of weakness?

It is not easy to tell, is it?

One of the most difficult things in life is knowing when to quit. After all, we can never truly know if we have tried our very best, right? At least I never do.

I will never accept that I couldn’t have done something better or something different. I do have a very high opinion of my own abilities, after all. And yet, doing something better or something different does not guarantee a desirable outcome. 

So, how do I make sure I don’t get stuck in a worthless endeavour?

Well, more often than not, I really don’t.

I just keep scraping for what I want at that moment, and things generally seem to work out well, in the end.

How does that ad go? Maybe I’m born with it… Maybe it’s make-believe… Something to that effect, I’m sure.

Who can know for sure, right?

All I do know is what I want, and that is often enough.

Word of the Week #195:

Atrocity

I have often felt that my art comes from a place of joy and love. I find it difficult to write when I am significantly disturbed or distressed.

These past couple of weeks have been nothing but distressing, right?

It has been reported that at least 25 people have lost their lives during the protests. Oddly enough, many of them were not even protestors, but simply random bystanders

Reporters and activists have been threatened, arrested, or assaulted.

Even vehicles in the street have not avoided the wrath of the police.

It is enough to chill one to the bones, is it not?

Whom do you call when the cops turn on you?

Call me.

“It is the common peoples duty to police the police.”
Steven Magee

 

Word of the Week #193:

Retribution

We all like superheroes, right? 

Who wouldn’t love characters like Batman, who fight crime, go after bad guys, and maintain peace in the world.

However, such individuals are better suited to the fictional world.

In the real world, people who operate outside the law and execute their own brand of justice are not called superheroes. They are are described by a different term: lynch mobs.

Over the past few years, I have noticed that in the wake of any highly publicised violent crime, amidst the usual outpouring of grief, there is a strong public demand for an immediate, equally violent retaliation. Ones who advocate basic concepts like “due process” come to be seen as dinosaurs, and their character comes to be questioned.

While it may seem natural to give in to our basest of instincts in a moment of pain and anger, one most always remember the difference between vengeance and justice. They make look the same when we are blinded by our emotion, but they are quite distinct.

There are practical reasons that could explain why following the due process can be beneficial to the society at large, but the simple fact is that we should not need reason and logic to do the right thing.

Isn’t that the very definition of a civilised society? That we can look past our immediate emotions and do what is right for society as a whole?

As the Chief Justice was forced to articulate, in response to the recent events:

“The criminal justice system in our country must change its attitude towards laxity and the time taken to dispose of each case. But I don’t think justice can ever be or ought to be instant, and justice must never ever take the form of revenge. I believe justice loses its character of justice if it becomes revenge.

—S A Bobde, Chief Justice of India