The Age Of The Narratives!

 


In the olden days we used to boast of our democracy as something ‘of the people, for the people and by the people’ where the things like freedom of expression, freedom of faith and beliefs, a secular environment with religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence and above all the prized safeguard of public opinion were all held in the highest of esteem and affection. We were very fond of forming our own opinions and of discussing those with others, not necessarily our supporters or sympathizers, but especially with those having different opinions, and in the process having healthy enlightening debates—anywhere, be it at the college/university campuses or at the favorite restaurants or in the office chambers or on the street corners or at the home addas. And we believed religiously in the strength of public opinion that used to change the destiny of democratic nations, so often.

 

Opinions used to be just comments or arguments that were amenable to change and further development, and were never obsessions. Contrasting religious beliefs, adherence to ideologies, the paths leading to the Left, Right or the Centre and the options to join various political parties were all there too, but these factors had not noticeably  hindered the democratic process of the debates, the fights, the development of the intellect, the quest for knowledge and wisdom, the politics and even the elections.

 

Well, good things are never meant to last long. Slowly and steadily, self-expression started becoming biased and motivated, ideologies becoming convictions, religious beliefs becoming fundamentalist obsessions, secularism becoming an object of constant ridicule and mockery and elections, the highest expression of democracy, becoming abject studies of human greed, shameless propaganda, no-holds-barred personal attacks/abuses and targeted violence. No doubt, the vote-bank politics of divisions were there in the olden days too, but that was done with some play of the conscience in the interests of peoples’ rights and constitutional provisions, and not in the way of the brazen divide and rule or the direct polarization tactics that slowly took over all forms of democratic elections and unfortunately, almost all forms of debates too. And, public opinion lost its place and relevance, entirely.

 

So, we ask ourselves now: what use of forming or having our own opinions amid the blitz of the ‘narratives’ that has been emerging over the last few years? The people or the voters are not to be blamed, they only wanted change from the quagmire of corruption and therefore voted overwhelmingly for the strong alternative; they had no idea nor any premonition of danger, that the democratic power would eventually become the prime or the bulldozer narrative to take them all in. Enshrined in their ideology and the accompanying religious orthodoxy and emboldened by the ever-enlarging obsessed majority with it the power went from strength to strength, inching surely and ominously toward the final realization of their cherished dream.

  

What exactly do we do with our opinions in the present scenario? Yes, we can still form and have those; but there is no relevance anymore and the modes of expression are severely restricted. If we form our opinion to fall in line the power would welcome us with open hands and reward a few of us; if we form our opinion that does not directly disturb them they would ignore us; if we form our opinion in direct confrontation of their belief-system they will scoff at us or would try to intimidate us into final submission; and if we form our opinion as a group opposing them on a platform they would immediately try to break it up by dividing us and then labelling us as anti-nationals or traitors or terrorists who’d better be shot down to which the obsessed majority would cheer with blood-thirsty vengeance.

 

Okay, you’re a diehard believer in democratic spirit and norms, and would have your opinion, refusing to fall in line. What happens then? Someone from the opposite gang would confront you with such absurd and hurting opinions that you’d lose your cool, shriek out in frustration mouthing expletives bordering on violence. And, based on your outburst and the consequent ‘intolerance’ they’d label you as a conspirator against the national interest. Also, be sure to be treated with some delicious democracy dishes: you’d be witnessing again and again, the bulldozer narrative taking another modulated form in another election where it’d boldly take a stand to save democracy. The power has been extremely lucky to have some exquisite brains that specialize in doing all the excruciating deeds brazenly and then expertly putting the blame on others.

 

Opinions thus are no longer in vogue. It’s all narratives. Only the bulldozer narratives prevail, all others get subdued ruthlessly; the final results would indicate that all with true opinions are the abused losers. In the olden days we did not know about narratives, we only were fond of narration, like that of a story. The stories are still there, but the narration or the narratives have changed, for good. Any protesting voice ultimately becomes a part of a certain narrative that immediately gets condemned as damaging for the nation.

 

And what about organized narratives or the narratives of the opposition political parties? The less said the better, because the obsessed majority is never going to see your point beyond their overwhelming narrative, and even though they are accused of having damaging narratives the opposition political parties actually seem to have lost all the narratives of honest intent. No hope at all then? Well, hope is something that can never be suppressed by any narrative of any form. That is why, all are entitled to go on hoping. We are also entitled to hope that somehow democracy is going to survive and prevail, once again, like in the olden days. The public opinion has always been a game-changing phenomenon and it can, through constant friction and conflict, still revive from its near extinction, to finally beat the masters in their own game.


However, the above is also a personal opinion, and is subject to all of the factors mentioned. The positive part of it is the fact that I'm still capable of expressing it, of course in my limited ways. 

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