October 12, 2011

Our salvage is within us

My friends tell me that all the woes of Maldives lie in the leadership. That allegation seemed to be a bit narrow-minded and so on a recent occasion we had some deeper discussion on this. Our spirited debate on the causes of our national anguish and despair ultimately revealed a broader net beyond just that of leadership. We came to place the reasons for this on the selfishness of other people, the pervasive and polluting global environment, on tourists and tourism, our uncaring parents, hedonistic friends, the cunning and pervasive media, and of course on selfish politics.

The common thread in all this as I reflect, is the placing of blame outside of ourselves. This attitude, one could say, is borne out of human nature --- to be defensive and not hurt ourselves or feel vulnerable. Maybe we feel our leaders are there to do things for us and we are entitled to wait passively for the mandatory handouts doled out. Thus we have learned to live on patronage. Over generations, this attitude has perhaps become hardwired into our DNA. And why not? This seems to be the most natural way to survive. The strong take the stage to govern and the obedient serve, in a continuous replay of the divine rights of kings so to say. So even with all our deep reflection and reasoning on the woes of our nation, we can only come up with those that absolve us from the blame.

But perhaps this is what needs to be worked on – changing our primeval defensive human nature to an attitude of civilized acceptance of our part of the responsibility. Otherwise, what is the meaning of democracy? Our nation has now espoused democracy with a new constitution and independent institutions to guide it; but without a matching mindset of a democratic attitude in ourselves, we will be wasting the freedom that this new call of governing gives us. So, could it not be that the cause of our anguish is of our own making – the fabrications of our own mind? We witness despair because we continue to feel the sense of helplessness that centuries have nurtured in us, but still it is an aspect of our “reality” that our national mindset still harbors. The profound change in concept that democracy brings must be fathomed to value its opportunities. We must realize that democracy turns the pyramid upside down; that leaders are now the servants of the people, and unless the boss can direct the servant, we are bound to have the servant dominate us. This notion of people supremacy must be stamped into our minds, and that we must be wise employers, who can invite and persuade difficult servants into doing a good job in our household.

For that we must learn the boundaries of rights and responsibilities inherent in democracy and not take its advent into our midst as an invitation to insolent arrogance (a misplaced notion of freedom) but rather respectful tolerance. Our youth must learn that building a responsible polity is what will get them to a safe berth of a good community in the future they will inhabit. And our leaders must provide the space for the youth to start being that – by leaders demonstrating the good example and role model in democracy and just what is so different in this new scheme of things to what was before.


Dami Ms said...

I couldn't agree with you more!

We,in general, are often content to let people govern our ways, despite how unjust we may feel their decisions are! We are fast to shift blame, yet slow to accept it!

Its unfortunate that we do not see and believe that with democracy, each person has a right to be heard; has a right to voice their concerns; and in not doing so, we too are held accountable for the strifes we face each day.

I believe the youth of today are taking slow and steady steps in the right direction. It would be great to have the guidance and support of people who don't take the world we live in for granted.

I appreciate your voice,and your views! It has been a terrific read till now & I look forward to seeing more of your writing within the blogosphere.

All the very best.

Khadeeja-ja said...

I wonder if "our salvage is within us" completely. Aren't we very much a product of our DNA, the environment we live in and the positive and negative stimuli we have experienced in our lifetime? I agree with the philosophy of 'not laying the blame at another's feet', but what makes us do that? Is it the fault of the frail human nature? or is it something bigger than that? Is it our innate need to simply survive to belong? How many of us are strong enough to stand alone against the strong forces of challenge, whether it be blame, corruption, humiliation or anything else that is pitted against them. It could even be ones own sincere conscious mind telling them its the right path to take but that path may be filled with landmines that could disable you. How do we rise above all this to reach the 'salvage within us'.

Abdul Sattar Yoosuf said...

True Ms Dami, in a democracy, silence may not be a virtue. If we truely beleive in the freedom it gives us, we must be a participant and not just an object on the map. It will take great mental toil for us to "see and beleive" in the democracy we seek to nurture; a converngence of collective veiws must happen, and who else but the youth to be taking active steps towards that for the future is theirs in a loop that never ends

Abdul Sattar Yoosuf said...

Those are engaging thoughts Khadeeja-ja. Victor Hugo says: "stronger than all the combined armies of the world, is an idea whose time has come". For us in Maldives, i beleive we have now the blessings of overt democracy and freedom. Perhaps the time has come for us to emerge from the mental binds of our past (nature and nurture)and aspire to realize the opportunity before us. If that can be sustained long enough, perhaps the DNA will also hardwire itself to transform us to the kind of people we would like to be