05 June 2015

Don’t forget to say hello

This is the thirty first 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.
Rebellion is no tea party.  There’s a lot of work to be done.  Typically there aren’t enough people to attend to all the things that need to be done.  In intense situations when things happen very fast and situations keep changing, often faster than you can respond to them, there’s no time for pleasantries.  It’s tough being a rebel, that much is certain.  
And yet, one must never forget to greet, to drop a quick word of appreciation, to remember to request rather than demand.  
Leaders get carried away.  They get so engrossed in must-do things they forget that even these things have to be done by human beings.  Rebels are not machines.  Sure, there’s a think called discipline. There are hierarchies.   They is something called a chain of command.  Orders are shouted out, they are obeyed.  The danger is ‘habit’.   A rebel leader should watch out for this.  
Habit, routine, convenience and the easy excuse ‘demands of the moment’ can easily take away the humanity and all the beautiful things associated with solidarity which, typically, is very much in evidence when the journey begins.  
Imagine a hypothetical situation where a meeting has been called.   There are many comrades attending.   Some of them have come from afar.  Let’s assume there are people who are meeting each other for the first time.  And then ‘the leader’ or let’s say the ‘convener’ begins to speak.  Let’s assume it is about getting a particular individual elected to some body.
‘Ok, we are all here.  We all know what this is about.  We all know what needs to be done.  Our man must win.  Let’s go out there and get it done!’
There are wild cheers, let’s assume.  After the applause has died down, a single voice objects.
‘Wait a minute brother.  You’ve not said hello to me yet.’
On the face of it it’s trivial.  Trivial in the larger order of things.  And rebels are supposed to be about the collective and not about personal things.  But in the hello-request is embedded many things that can make a difference.  It is about recognition.  It is about being human rather than being machines.  It is essentially a demand that other opinions be heard.  It is a demand that the harder thing be tackled. It simply says that it is easy to dish out orders and to assume that the order-giver knows everything but that the tougher business of obtaining opinion and consensus is a necessary precondition for success.
You got to say hello, comrade.  It is important.  
Other articles in this series