Once upon a time, long ago there was a faraway land called ‘somewhere’, ruled by an efficient king. Because the king wanted to make the life of his subjects easy, he formed a committee of his ministers to frame a set of conventions that would illustrate means of carrying out all the tasks. This document called the ‘rulebook’ was widely circulated and enforced and all the subjects started following it religiously. Soon, the entire kingdom was mechanized for every work became a routine and the subjects turned into mere puppets guided by the strings of the ‘rulebook’. Even the king turned apathetic and confined himself to the comforts of his palace. The kingdom was stuck in a rut and all progress slowly stopped. The empire eventually declined and today the kingdom of ‘somewhere’ is nowhere to be found.
This tale of ‘somewhere’ presents a stark reality. We abide by a social order held together by the threads of rules and conventions. These norms often define the extent of acceptable behavior for people. In doing this they constrain the unruly and ensure the smooth functioning of societal apparatus. But it is not long before these threads transform into chains that start restraining imagination as individuals become complacent and trade their identity to be a part of the herd. The mass of humanity progresses slowly by trudging on pre defined paths.
As times change, so do the expectations. It is not long before facilitators turn into oppressors inebriated by the power entrusted on to them by the masses. It is then the realization dawns, the bondages of convention cut and bleed the humanity in some cases and simply tie them to status quo in others. None of these seems agreeable to the civilization which now dreams of a better, brighter future. This sets the backdrop for a revolution – a complete metamorphosis of the entire system to touch newer horizons.
But in words of Che Guevara ‘The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.’ If we do not actively prune the imperfect and simply adhere to the accepted, the modernization and reformation of our systems and norms will lose impetus. We need to realize that change has no set formula. Only a radical shift today will lead to a quantum transformation tomorrow. The course of history has been altered each time a person has had the conviction to challenge the norms and follow the road less travelled.
‘The Earth is the centre of the universe’. This delusion would have been the reality of astronomy had not been for the determination of one man, Nicholas Copernicus, to challenge the orthodox axioms of those times. It was through the unconventional ammunition of non cooperation and civil disobedience that India was liberated from the shackles of British rule by Mahatma Gandhi. One man’s outcry against police corruption gave rise to the ‘Arab Spring’ fueled by novel and widespread use of social networking.
Helen Keller was once asked, ‘What is worse than having no eyesight?’ She replied, ‘Having an eyesight with no vision.’ This statement by this extraordinary woman truly sums up the essence and importance of daring to dream and look beyond the obvious. George Bernard Shaw, once said that the reasonable man adapts himself to the world as it is. The unreasonable man tries to transform the world to what he wants it to be. Therefore, the onus of progress lies upon the gritty and the determined who think farther than the horizon.
The technological advancements and scientific discoveries on the basis of which we call ourselves the most advanced species on the planet have been spearheaded by unconventional dreamers. The Edisons and Einsteins of the world have had the audacity to challenge the established and in their quest have benefitted millions. Back home, the green revolution, operation flood, the IT revolution ascertain the fact.
James Cameron, the director of Avatar believed in ‘Pandora’, and waited for 15 long years for the technology that could materialize his thoughts, and managed to create a spectacular marvel. It is true that this new avenue is fraught with risks of the unknown, but promises a higher return. We hold the power to transform our tomorrow and of the generations to come. It is the first step, the first leap of faith that requires valor the most. But one small step, an initiative in the right direction coupled with perseverance has the capability to affect millions.
Let us all challenge ourselves, rise above the barriers of the ordinary and work towards creating the land that Gurudev, imagined out nation to become one day. A land :
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action