Monday, December 29, 2008

Two Politicians and One Nation

I just have to say this, unformed as this is....  

There are two political leaders for whom my heart is saying contrary today to what it used to say. 

One is Benazir Bhutto. I am usually careful of doing anything that I shall be ashamed of later, something I cannot account to myself. But against the voice of my own heart, I said unkind words about her after her death, remembering her as a "corrupt politician" that Pakistanis once cursed. Suffice it to say that my view of us Pakistani and our curses has changed more significantly than anything else. I think we cursing people should hold ourselves to task before we are held to task (as it is happening right now). Also, my view of what is corruption and what prompts is, what is it, and how others perceive it is also rather evolved. I do not accept corruption, but I see a new definition of it. In summary, there is a corruption that is real corruption - that is the rotting of a heart. And then there is corruption that is arbitrarily defined. And then there is that legally defined corruption that happens much more often passively (i.e. by the "victim" or totality of the system) - but is only attributed actively and tangibly, i.e. to a person taking money. I think today that it is not just that a person does wrong, but that they are silently, subtly, and by way of inaction and unfairness supported in their ways by the larger world.

Each has to transform themselves alone. 

As of Benazir, I would think that another case applied to her: that is of repentance and transformation. Certainly the woman who came here is not the woman who had left this country: one who was much less maturer and inappropriate. I also sometimes wonder how much fortitude did she show in becoming the Prime Minister in the first place, and being a woman in the second place! How often is it that a woman truly shows the collective spirit of those around her, for a woman is a tribe, she does not walk alone. For whatever wrong she did, how much was really her fault? The situation cannot be accounted for in terms of facts, many of which are not known in legal truth be people. But there is a truth larger than that and that is the voice of human hearts -and in that voice, she is forgiven. She is not vile.

A year ago I may have dismissed eulogies for her (though I felt my heart rebuking me as I did so), but soon after I admitted the voice of my own heart. I forgive her. And not just that, I say she inspired me for this entire year of 200 to give my last bit of flickering hope to this country. What this country has now chosen for itself is its own choice.  

The second politician is George W. Bush. Yes, that man whose bad end we have all been ardently wishing for.

No President walks alone either, in a democratic world. The decisions of a leader depend upon him and on his character. But this is not the age of one lone hero/ villain especially in complex political systems such as that of the USA. We humans seem to be carrying our political memories from the days of kings and queens. The system today is not so arbitrary.

I do not say that George W. Bush is either a wise man or one with exceptionally good intent. But I do feel today that he has had much more ill ascribed to him than really belonged to him alone. It is entirely possible that he only managed to bring what was already doomed to its catastrophic end. And I also would dare say, much as I revile war and aggression - that the nations that suffered from these aggressive acts should have been more proactively engaged with the world. 

Of the one who commits violence and who seems to be dead by it, we tend to hold the first as responsible. If a fast car hits a man who was rushing across the road in darkness, whose fault is it? It may be the car's fault, but to stop at that conclusion and not attempt to create pedestrian bridges and well-lit streets is to have poor vision. Indeed the people who I find most disruptive and harmful are the one who beat the point of the "aggressor's" fault to death and engage for ages the energies of everyone else also to reach that bland conclusion.

The act of wrong is obvious. How to correct this in the present and for the future is not obvious to the blind. That remains the quality of the vision of only a few.  

We must broaden our vision and open our hearts enough to  be able to see that the victim and the victimizer are both born into a skewed world; and of the two, one assumes the active and the other the passive role. Yet both are in the same drama.

That is why I also detached from the movements of the "Civil Society" in Pakistan shortly after I protested against Musharraf's unwise handling of the events of March 2007 and thereafter. I think the one who protests and says statements like, "Stop.... " actually plays along in the drama and does nothing more than attract more violence. From animals to predators to street thieves to dictators, each violent force will go again and again for such people - this is a psycho-forensic fact. For whoever is genuinely interested in change, the real task is to stop themselves from acting in the drama.

There is One Nation - and yes I just put that in the caps - that has really used its own ills to transform itself. Of the significant nations of the world, this nation is definitely the first. That is America.  

America is a much-hated country in the world as of 2008, and certainly the most hated nation before November 2008. From friends to foes to the apathetic, people fear America and despise its system - and fear is hatred by just another name. The ills of any nation - its waywardness, its hysteria, its lack of empathetic human values, its incompatibility with the rest of the world - were apparent in full force in the American nation for the past eight years.  

It was like an infection that fully came to boil, and it had distorted the face of America.

For a person or for a nation, this is a truly horrid and painful situation to be in: when you think you want to be beautiful and loved, but you are all ugly and repulsive.

As the year of 2008 ends, though, it can be truly said that America dealt with the dark night of its soul - and grew through it. Look anywhere in the world and you shall see the worst of all people as the leaders of the nation - the people most hated and loathed and suspected by the nations are ruling them! This shows how morally bankrupt and weak the world is, for its worst men are in positions of power, telling lies that everyone knows are lies, raping entire countries - and still they are in comfortable power! This would astound a political analyst alien brother from Mars!

The only nation, so far, that has managed to arrive in the next era of inclusive, collaborative, enlightened leadership is the USA. Barack Obama's election is as much a wonder of people's power as of his own character. Persons of character and promise mean nothing in politics if they are not acknowledged by the common people - it is a dance of the two. (Though having character only takes one: the politician. And making correct decisions takes only one: the citizen.)

This is just the beginning of human nations renouncing old dogmas and schemas. The quicker a nation allows its old constructs to fall apart today, the sooner it shall be liberated from a world that we are all tired of. This is the way to liberation.

It is no wonder, thus, that the whole world erupted into cheer at the election of a highly unusual politician as the President of United States - one who is, in the spirit of the times, collaborative, calm, and collected.

As the history of humanity continues its inevitable evolutionary march on an ever more densely populated planet, we need a spirit that gives rather than snatches space from the other. We must also let go of our history, and appreciate that all that has happened thus far is a great human experiment. And that what we need right now, in this present, is a forgiveness of the past, a fearlessness about the future, and an absolute conscious presence in the world as-it-is, NOW.

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