October 23, 2012

Darkness keeps fear intact

"Being kept in the dark" is a common phrase we are all familiar with. Darkness is a metaphor for ignorance or not knowing what's there or beyond it. And inherently there is fear when we don't know; when there is darkness shrouding our path. Therefore, fear and darkness are related because fear is the consequence of darkness, because darkness is the vista of the unknown. A child learns to be afraid of the dark only when it becomes aware of the hidden dangers lurking in the dark. This may be real or imagined, given that the child experiences or does not experience the content of the darkness. If nurtured into believing it contained scary stuff, then the seed of fear is planted, whereas if the content of the darkness is shown as not intimidating – just the absence of light – then the child grows not to fear. Or even when there is intimidating or scary content in the darkness, if we are made to deftly anticipate and harness this content, fear is diminished or vanishes.

This metaphor has great bearing in the sphere of our adult life to mould us into what we are as individuals and communities. Keeping people in darkness is to keep people in fear. And the easiest way to do this was to keep people in ignorance – away from learning and knowing. Fortunately, public education in the modern era has turned the tide. In many societies in the days gone by, including ours, education was a privilege of the few; the well to do. This was a way of keeping people in fear through sustained ignorance (darkness of the mind), for those with fear are easier to govern and so it was a powerful instrument of social control, and used assiduously by autocrats of the past. It kept society segmented and divided such that it became a way of life, accepted and live with over centuries. The age of enlightenment through education has shaped to dispel this darkness, liberating the mind out of its bind, and shattering the social demarcations that held people separate, towards an integrated whole; hopefully towards a realization that we are all God’s creation and not different from each other. It was our own doing that kept us apart.

However, the vestiges of our past cannot be done away with that easily. Remnants still linger and even with increased awareness harnessed from education, mindsets take generations to re-frame and rewire. And sadly, but surely, such delays in our ecological realities are capitalized on by those who govern us, to keep us in control. The controlling instinct too is a primeval one linked to our evolutionary ecology and so for our spiritual evolution to happen, we must learn to detach ourselves from the past vestiges and be inspired to espouse our common human heritage. Even with this idea called democracy, the essence of which talks to the primacy of all human beings being equal under God’s Law, we falter -- falling back on our ecological reality that tugs at our ego strings. We see this in all walks of life, in offices, businesses, in community governance and also in leading nations.

Withholding information or being kept in ignorance of procedures or terms of engagement are tools that governors use to keep themselves apart from the governed. And so keeping people in ignorance is the key tool that keeps up this distance which the culture of governing has come to espouse as one of its most powerful strategies to keep this gulf intact. Education has in modern times forced to bridge this gap somewhat, and democracy when practiced within its essential principles of consultation, tolerance, inclusiveness and responsibility, can allay this fear that keeps us from being the masters of ourselves. It will take leaders of another caliber - immune to the vestiges of the past to make the delight of democracy emerge. Otherwise life will continue to be "old wine in new bottles" so to say.


Asit Nema said...

Your musings are as much relevant to the Indian society as you feel strongly for your homeland. My suggestion is that you kindly speak to one of the national dailies such as Indian Express, The Hindu or even The Times of India for carrying a feature article once or twice a week - depends how prolific you are! It will do good to our Indian society as well. Also I suppose you will be planning to come out with a book of compilations, perhaps in a year or so.

Abdul Sattar Yoosuf said...

let me take your advice. Many thanks