By Rai Sengupta:
She has been online for half an hour now. Facebook welcomes her with the usual status updates, stories and photographs of friends holidaying in some distant sea beach – the monotony of it all.
Then a sentence comes to her attention. Five words: “Ashab yurid isqat an nizaam.” Google Translate helps out by saying that it means, “The people shall bring down the regime.” An Arabic phrase, no doubt, possibly about the unrest in the Middle East she had been reading about in the papers; the photographs of the violence in Egypt and Libya had horrified her. She shudders. But what can she do? Would sharing the status help? What great good in the world could a measly status do, says the practical side of her. She clicks on ‘share’ nevertheless. Two days later, she finds the status viral on Facebook. It is no more relegated to the status of a ‘status’. It has become a clarion call to awaken people from their slumber in the Middle East, and to question their governments on their repressive measures. The word of the people has spread like fire in the Middle East, after one woman, miles apart, has decided to voice it on a social networking site as her opinion.
Man’s ability to not only think and contemplate, but express his thoughts and ideas, to communicate them to others, sets him apart from other creatures on this planet. Even thousands of years ago, before the birth of writing, man picturised his thoughts on cave walls; years later, the cave paintings at Lascaux and Altamira are evidence of human life, speech and existence, of the fact that to speak out, to tell one’s feelings, has been inherent in man always. In the chronology of events from the past to the present, humans as individuals, in clusters, hamlets and city-states have discussed and spoken of kings and rulers, praised and criticised happenings, blamed and condemned actions, and have protested against wrong.
On July 4, 1789, in France, a motley crowd of commoners, peasants, shopkeepers and coffee house owners stormed into the Bastille, shouting, “Liberty! Freedom! Enfranchisement!” ideals intangible and nouveau, yet ideas from the human brain spoken aloud alright. After the Dark Ages, in Europe, writers and philosophers debated and wrote, ideas evolved, rationale found place in human speech as society progressed during the Renaissance. Then moving on to the shouts of “Bharat mata ki jai” echoing in the skies, as India’s people thronged the streets and muddy roadways, to synchronise their actions and words into a unified echo of a nation demanding freedom. The individual farmer or industrial worker in the crowd, relentlessly, fervently fighting for swaraj, may have been of the opinion that his contribution was of little measure. But that was not so. One Indian less, fighting against what she thought was wrong would render India’s voice and the larger echo of all that is just and right, an echo less far-reaching.
To make a difference, no matter how small it is, to voice one’s opinion, no matter how trivial and unimportant it may seem, to participate in rallies and protest marches for something one believes in, even if one’s presence hardly seems necessary is to bring about change, and to carry the historic tract of human speech and expression forward. Speak out.