Raouf Rasool

They are ‘out like the Archimandrite’!

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Poor history – it’s once again at the receiving end. In fact it has always been – certainly in this part of the world because here successive governments of the two main political groupings have conveniently been using it to sanctify and add value to even the ordinary and mundane things and matters, which otherwise are, and should have been a routine affair.

For instance, people are every now and then bombarded with the terms like “historic initiatives” and “visions” of a “dynamic leadership”. The underlying meaning is that but for these initiatives they would continue to be a wretched lot. Now whether anything has actually changed for this ‘wretched lot’ remains doubtful, but those at the political helm miss no single opportunity to parrot and hammer home the efficiency of their “historic initiatives” and want people to be ever-grateful to the “visions” of its “dynamic” leaders. Though on the ground nothing much has changed, yet they are told that these “historic initiatives” have brought about a huge change in their lives. Obviously then, ordinary have-nots have a reason to doubt their very own intellect – how is it that when history has been so benevolent to us by way of leaders taking so many initiatives for ‘us’ but ‘we the people’ are not able to see them?
They say a political leader can lack any of the qualities – with one exception – and still be effective and successful. That exception is the art of communication. And communication with others takes place when they understand what the leader is trying to get across to them. And people understand things only when they are able to identify with them, see and feel them for good. They don’t and won’t understand a thing if the claims and assertions thrown at them are pegged to absurdity, to deceit and untruth. And fact of the matter is that if people do not understand, then the leader is certainly not communicating regardless of words, claims, meaningless figures or anything else. Importantly, people only understand things in terms of their experiences. This makes it essential for the leaders to get within their (people’s) experiences. And if a leader can’t find the point of experience of the people at which they can receive and understand, then, the leader must try and create the experience for them.
This is exactly what is missing here. The “historic initiatives” that are thrown at the peoples’ faces day in and day out – are too farfetched and incredible for the common people that they, despite some desperate trying, are not able to locate any point of experience in these political assertions that could make any meaning for them. No wonder with the political leadership confining their activities to mere boastful claims without bothering to translate the same into people’s experiences, the common people have no reasonable reason to feel great about such assertions, leave aside believing them.
In one community there was a Greek Orthodox priest named Archimandrite Anastopolis. Every Saturday night, faithfully followed by six of his church members, he would tour the local taverns. After some hours of imbibing he would suddenly stiffen, and become so drunk that he was paralyzed. At this point his faithful six, like pallbearers, would carry him through the streets back to the safety of his church.  Over the years it became part of the community’s experience, in fact a living legend. In talking to anyone in that neighborhood one could not communicate the fact that something was out of place, not with it, except to say it was “out like the Archimandrite”. The response would be laughter, nodding of heads, a “Yeah, we know what you mean!”
By the way, there are also other “historic achievements” as well which people are able to identify with and as such understand easily – but here history is not prefixed or suffixed to these for obvious reasons. For instance, Valley has for long been face to face with historic uncertainties and insecurities. We have witnessed historic number of crib deaths. We also saw historic fake drugs scam. State is in the grip of a historic debt trap. A historic number of educated, uneducated, skilled and un-skilled people are without jobs. CAG is repeatedly puncturing historic holes in the state’s financial management. Institutionalized corruption is certainly creating history here… The list of these ‘achievements’ is of course too long to be listed here in entirety. But as the communication process is, even a mention of a few of these achievements hits that bull’s eye so perfectly that it automatically conjures up images and meanings of countless other “historic achievements” here!


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