I took a break from Writing over the last two weeks and enjoyed the freedom from imposition – a self-imposition – and I wondered how much of a drag on freedom, an external imposition can be. Reminded me of school! and the opposite effects of a Laxative and Constipation! It taught me so much about the meaning of freedom. I had the freedom to contemplate freedom (free of domination!) and so I did.
The first thought that came to me, is that when we are born, we are born free – no clothes, no name, no religion, no language, no culture (other than that of a baby), no nationality. We have an identity. Human being. Then we cry or they make us cry. Just to see if we are normal. The message? You’ve got to cry to be normal. Through your life. Not laugh. That’s why comedians are liked only by a few perhaps, and certainly not governments.
Then everyone’s favourite “reasonable restrictions” are imposed on our freedom. And accepted without murmur. That’s just the beginning! You are given a name, a religion, a culture, a language, a nationality, a framework by which to grow up and survive, or thrive, depending upon your karma. Each one of them is a restriction, albeit a reasonable restriction, one which grows upon you even as you grow into it. Does it not?
What if we had the freedom we had when we were babies? What if, because we were born free, are allowed to stay free? identified only as Human Being? Like Tarzan. Would the world have been a better safer quieter more peaceful place? The identity would have been uniform, but for the shape size and gender!
Too much to imagine? Blame the reasonable restrictions which crowd your mind, your activities, and your growth. Today they are called norms, conventions, traditions, and laws that govern your freedom. Scholars who have read a lot, leaders who talk a lot, Adjudicators who judge a lot say it helps us stay free. It’s the only way they say to maintain order – and sustain their orders! In a nutshell, we need an identity to be free, we need to ignore or subjugate another identity to remain free, and we need laws for both eventualities’ to convince ourselves that we are free!
So much for contemplation. No more because my freedom ends when the deadline approaches for this column. Reasonable Restriction I agree.
Also the countdown to the celebration of our nation’s 75th year of Independence is fast approaching, and it’s time to host the Thiranga – the top band of Saffron colour, indicating the strength and courage of the country; the white middle band indicating peace and truth with the Dharma Chakra; and the last band green to show the fertility, growth and auspiciousness of our land – at home, at office anywhere where you are with respect.
But there is a fourth colour; Navy Blue – the colour of the Dharma Chakrain the middle of the white band which signifies the “wheel of law” made by the third century BC Mauryan Emperor Ashoka. Let me quote the Wikipedia on this; “The Sanskrit noun dharma ( धर्म ) is a derivation from the root dhṛ ‘to hold, maintain, keep’, and means ‘what is established or firm’ and hence ‘law’. It is derived from the Vedic Sanskrit n-stem dharman- with the meaning “bearer, supporter” in the historical Vedic religion conceived of as an aspect of Ṛta.” This is significant in the context of all that is written above! It’s the law and our adherence to it that keeps us free!
Your contemplative faculties must now be on edge! Well, I gave you the freedom to think, if not to express, but all reasonable restrictions took over! And 75 years down the line, they have only gotten more reasonable. I mean you have no reason to believe that they are not reasonable, have you? We remain an august people in August primarily because we are reasonable about the reasonable restrictions imposed upon us. It’s a time to be nationalistic, to be patriotic and very important to not know the difference. There is a difference? I don’t know.
Maybe contemplation will help me figure it out. But I have a deadline, a reasonable one – every Tuesday, so I have no freedom to contemplate further! And that’s a conundrum if there was one!
Research tells me that one is loud, arrogant, inconsistent, and insincere in its commitment, but has social media in its powerful grip, to amplify its sound and fury and downplay its downsides. The other is soft spoken, quiet, humble, firm, and sincere in its commitment and social media just does not appreciate it. That happens to humans too!
They are like the two eyes on our face, which don’t see eye to eye, unless there is a medical defect or a medical (narcotic) effect! When they intermingle, they are heady, like a double black! Literally. For some there is overlapping, because it’s easy not to think, for some its easy, because it’s easy to be deliberate rather than deliberate. And doing either is a red label, to those who prefer the black label! Gotta be careful though. Gotabhayya!
Nationalism presumes that the Nation is one, and its nationals are also one! That is why the quest for uniformity. Uniforms, one election, one language, one pass time, one political party etc dominates discourse and action. Patriotism also presumes that the Nation is one, but its nationals are many and varied in the pursuit of their oneness with each other and for a common cause – a strong vibrant nation.
Can you be both, at once, at various times, in different circumstances? Certainly. When you feel threatened; when you are told that you must feel threatened and so you feel threatened; and when you are actually threatened! From without especially, but to begin with, from within! With is the key word!
Nationalism all about Loyalty and Royalty and Loyalty to Royalty. It trumpets the country’s and their own virtues and denies its deficiencies and is contemptuous of the virtues of others – other individuals and other nations. Remember Mohammed Ali’s comment? “I am greatest. I said that even before I knew I was” Nationalism is an ideology based on the premise that an individual’s loyalty and devotion to one’s country should come above the interests and opinions of other citizens or the interests of a certain group of citizens.
Then there is Patriotism. It represents your attachment to your homeland. the love for where an individual is born, brought up, and the nation that place belongs to. These attachments can be related to ethnic, cultural, political, or historical. Patriotism is also being proud of a country’s virtues but with an eagerness and readiness to correct its deficiencies to be better. Patriotism acknowledges the patriotism of citizens of other countries and respects their virtues.
Apples, oranges, Bananas, Mangoes, Passion Fruit, Tomatoes, Lemons. Each different, but unified in giving us nutrition in diverse ways, killing our hunger, not us. Patriotic in their approach to human and animal and in fact their own kind as they regenerate for generations. What if they were just one? Would you even like to imagine? Black Label would have you do just that! Fruits unite, else you will soon become fruit cake!
So, there is a difference? What is the difference then? The difference between patriotism and nationalism is simple – a patriot loves his country and is proud of it for what it does whereas a nationalist loves his country and is proud of his country no matter what it does; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility, but the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to war.” – Sydney J. Harris
George Orwell put it like this: “By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.”
On August 15, 1947 did we attain independence or was there simply a transfer of power is another contemplative question for which we don’t have time or the freedom to contemplate. Independence is often interchangeably referred to as the transfer of power in various texts.
In his own words, as quoted in Freedom at Midnight, Mountbatten claimed, “The date I chose came out of the blue. I chose it in reply to a question. I was determined to show I was the master of the whole event. When they asked if we had set a date, I knew it had to be soon. I hadn’t worked it out exactly then — I thought it had to be about August or September, and I then went out to August 15. Why? Because it was the second anniversary of Japan’s surrender”.
And indeed, it is. Many of the old laws remain and the way they are applied is still the same. The objectives are the same – to ensure we stay independent! Royalty remains, though it may change with loyalty, and through it all the citizen-govt equation remains.
I’ve transferred the power to you to think independently. Whether you can express what you think? Well, that would be a reasonable expectation if you are outside the box of reasonable restrictions!
We are born Free, but can we stay free? Gee! that would be nice! But would it be chaos? If so, Tom Peters theory ‘Management by Chaos’ may help!
Contemplate my friends but don’t be intemperate!