09 September 2015

The sun will never set

Pic courtesy www.shantitravel.com
This is the forty fifth in a series of articles on rebels and rebellion written for the FREE section of 'The Nation'. Scroll to the end for other articles in this series.  'FREE' is dedicated to youth and youthfulness.

Look West any evening and if it’s a cloud-free day, you are likely to see a sunset.  If you are in Polonnaruwa you’ll see the sun disappear over faraway tree-line.  If you are in Peradeniya it will drop over Alagalla. If you are on Galle Face Green you’ll see it sinking into the Indian Ocean.  

The truth, however, is that it is all a lie.  The sun does not set.  It does not disappear beyond the faraway hills, does not drop over hills and does not sink into the sea.  The earth moves.  That’s what happens.  

The point here is simple.  What one sees is not what is.  A quick glance might make us think, ‘ok, so that’s what’s happening, I’ve got it, I understand’ but appearances as they say can be deceptive.    It’s a bit like advertising and advertisements.  

No company will say anything negative about its product.  If we are to believe the brand managers, brand ambassadors and the advertising agencies, public relations firms and production houses associated with them, all brands and products are perfect.  They are the best in the market.  We would be stupid not to form strong brand loyalties and fill the grocery cart or shopping bag with the particular products of that brand.  

Sometimes things are made to appear in a particular light.  People want us to believe certain things.  And sometimes it’s not that anyone is trying to fiddle with our minds — it’s just that we read things wrong.  Like the ‘sunset’.  

Now this can be a serious problem when you are rebelling.  If you read things wrong, you are bound to make erroneous decisions.  Errors cost and sometimes you just don’t have the privilege of wasting resources.  

It gets more complicated.  It’s not only events, incidents and processes, brands and products, goods and services that deceive.  Even people are not always what they seem to be.  Words said are not direct translations of what’s going on in the mind of the speaker.  Silences can also be read wrong.  Brave fighters and entire companies have been eliminated by betrayal.  

Now all this can scare one into absolute inaction.  Think too much about it and you’ll be consumed by suspicion.  You will see conspiracy at every turn.  You will begin to mistrust people and end up trusting no one.  You could start setting traps to discover the truth or otherwise of claimed loyalty.  It can become a disease that distracts you from the matter of rebelling.  

There are too many imponderables, this you know.  One should not be discouraged, though.  The unknown, the frailties and fallibilities, the curse of misreading etc., should not stop you from doing your best to change the world.  It’s good to know the odds.  It’s useful to factor in the possibility of error as you weigh different options.  It is good to be alert.  

You know the earth moves.  You know that this makes it appear that it is the sun moving around the earth.  But one thing is clear.  There’s a point in time when light gives way to darkness.  There’s a point when darkness is dispelled by light.  And these are the ‘lessons’ that the ‘sunset’ teaches us.   It could cost to read appearances and allow these and nothing else to inform strategy.  Keep a question mark near you.  Use it now and then.  It might help you scratch the surface of things.  What is revealed might surprise you.  It might save you a lot of trouble too.  

And don’t forget to check out the sunset now and then.  

Other articles in this series