Patriotism vs. Despotism: a dormant battle?

Posted: February 6, 2009 in Uncategorized

I watched Rang de Basanti for the second time last night.
I remember the first watch bowling me over, but this time, it was a real hard kick in the gut.
I’m not talking about just how ‘entertaining’ it was, but more importantly the questions and food for thought that the movie created for me.

Caution: Longass post ahead. 😛

The story is about a group of young people in India, who stumble upon their country’s ancient records- the tales of how their ancestors fought for their freedom against the oppression of British rule. Along the way, however, they make a life-altering realization: that the past is repeating itself. Except that this time, the rifle is just in the hands of a different oppressor.

Whacko’s words come to mind:
The whip is still strong
But the hand wielding it is a dark brown

I was still back in school when I watched Rang de Basanti the first time, so I was ignorant of the intensity of governmental corruption rampant on our dahling ‘paradise island’, except for the vague cynical remarks strewn about by all alike.

Now, after joining the papers and learning all too much in gory detail about the neanderthals that rule us, the movie struck a chord in that sleeping part of my brain that is meant to retaliate to an oppression we’re all too easily accepting.

Who is a patriot, really?
Is it the man who says he will die for his country and joins the army? What if the army he is fighting in is ruled by leaders who are (savour the irony!) choking the very people the man is fighting to protect?
Am I a patriot if I say I am proud of my country?
But what of the corruption and poverty- one might say, how can you possibly be proud of that!
But surely, no country is perfect. That’s an excuse yeah?

A patriot is usually someone who will stridently fight against the oppressors, the pillagers of his land, right?
We all watch our country’s pirate- uh I mean politicians perform their ritualistic idiocy on the news on our TV screens everyday and switch right over to the cartoon channel without so much as a flinch; then are there in fact any real patriots in this country?

Who is a coward?
Is he the man who refuses to fight in the army because he believes it is governed by the corrupt? Or is he the man who will fight in war to keep his country safe but turn a blind eye to the fact that those he salutes to will starve his children and kill their neighbors for their own gain?

What about the cynics, most of us, who sit here and declare incessantly that we are ruled by a bunch of morons and what a travesty it is, but don’t really do much else about it?
Are we the cowards?
Or are we just realists? Oh we can kick and scream all we want but it won’t change this country aney! Best thing to do is get outta here soon as possible!
A realistic view, or an excuse for inaction?
Inaction is a weapon of mass destruction.

Is it really so impossible to create change in the way we let ourselves be puppeted by the mindless apes we put into power? Or is it?
Despotism despises nothing so much as righteousness in its victims.
Righteousness, a strict adherence to morality, something lacking if one fails to proactively resist corruption?
Have they chained us so tightly that we’ve become incapable of that resistance? Or are the chains just in our minds?

I don’t claim to know the answers to any of these questions, nor did I mean for any of them to sound rhetoric. Just random spurts in my brain while watching the movie.

But the fight against the people who control us from their seemingly untouchable high horses seems to be pretty dormant if you ask me.
All of us seem to have quietly accepted the fact that we have put monsters into power and continue to do so, except of course for the verbal hatred, the symbolic spit-on-the-ground gestures, and the occasional protest or two.

What is the truth? That in the process of accepting our present fate, we have accepted defeat? Or that the lack of resistance is precisely because it is pointless hoping for a political change that is not going to happen?

I’m not trying to start a revolution right here on my blog or anything. God knows most of you lot are as lazy-arsed as me. 😛
But I’m just wondering. With all the shit we’re taking, I see the people, including myself, really just reflexively turning the other cheek.
Why? Why do I know I am probably going to return to apathy by this evening?
And is this hopeless cynicism all that Sri Lankans of the future generations will inherit from their ancestors?

  1. Sigma says:

    I put it down to the fact that we have lost our faith in people. We have become exactly what our ‘Leaders” want us to be – sheep. Each one of us hoping that if we keep our head down, the storm will blow over me! The words of Martin Niem”ller so aptly quoted by Lasantha Lasantha Wickramatunge in his final editorial – words now know by so many thanks to him. To that I’ll add that he who see’s a wrong and does nothing to stop it, is no less guilty as the perpetrator.We each, as individuals need to take a stand, however small it may be – do not tolerate the bad driver on the road, the person who attempts to jump the line. Even if it inconveniences you, try to do the right thing

  2. Serendib_Isle says:

    I attribute this to the “Asian Sheep Syndrome.” We breed sheep. Nowhere else in the world one would see married children in their 40’s still living with their parents. Nowhere else would the parents decide if their 18 year old kid should study maths, science or commerce – immaterial of his liking or talent… what else would you expect, when we are brought up with “no decision-making power” even beyond the age of consent..???

  3. Paparé Boy says:

    I quote the late great Albert Einstein:The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.

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