Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Editorial

Pebbles on placid surfaces

Scene I
Grace: “Do you think I am becoming fat?”
Emmanuela: “You are not becoming fat. You are fat.”
Emmanuela here is a version of the little boy, who said: “But the Emperor has no clothes.”
Scene II
Wife: “Am I looking fat?”
Husband: “Oh no, never! You look as slim and beautiful as always.”


The husband here is the soul of tact because he doesn’t want to upset the apple-cart of his family and home life.
Emmanuela, like the little boy in the fable The Emperor has no clothes, are rare straight-shooting entities in cultural history ~ often deemed tactless, impolite, ingenuous and even stupid (burboks) in a world absorbed in self-interest and self-preservation. Emmanuela and the little boy in the fable are children ~ unlearnt in the deviousness and duplicity of grown-ups hence foolish in the ways of the world. Perhaps, unwittingly the little boy in the fable is the first sprout of journalism and the Fourth Estate. Or, the first mirror placed before the face of power. Children, if we allow them to be children, are also universal mirrors. Unfortunately, we cover them and disable them from seeing human faces. What is it about mirrors, which we love to look at but refuse to see? There are all kinds of trick mirrors, especially in circuses, fairs, fetes, galas and houses of oddities. These trick mirrors distort our images and create amusement, horror or humour. Powers-that-be love trick mirrors that reflect their flattering images ~ fortunately the mind’s eye do detect distortions and games. That is the genius of the human intellect. And it is this intellect that must not be insulted.


Governments normally perceive the Fourth Estate through an adversarial prism ~ especially those that have things to conceal and/or have failed to perform satisfactorily ~ but Governments need to look at the Fourth Estate, if not as a friend, at least as a mirror that must often be looked at to see where and when cleaning is required. Such a Government empowers itself to deliver more and serve better. Such a Government places itself in an unimpeachable position. Such a Government also saves itself from the pointless exercise of “cultivating friendly media” and hiding behind spin-doctors. Not that the Fourth Estate is perfect ~ over time this mirror also gets corroded and cracked, blame it on self-interests and self-preservation. Our political, economic, social, cultural, religious values, systems and structures are so deeply ingrained in capitalistic ethos that self-interest and self-preservation is paramount ~ hence attempts to quell ripples and waves disruptive to the status quo. So those who throw pebbles on placid surfaces automatically become the foe. Mirrors and pebbles then assume the same significance. So, the world of powers-that-be, evading stark realities, love the “peace-loving” husband. In this scenario, Emmanuela and the little boy in the fable are pests.


Diabetes and hypertension are some common co-morbidities that increase vulnerability to COVID-related complications. Doctors advice the best preventive measures and curative remedies to fend off these two rampant health issues, which experts say are a cause of a very high rate of deaths globally, especially because they lead to several other life-threatening complications. But doctors don’t inform that one of the worst causes of Diabetes and hypertension is the television. More specifically, raving and ranting anchors and equally fuming spokespersons of political parties despite their often unruffled exterior in talk shows and debates. Watching television for long hours is unhealthy, Doctors say, because the human body needs to be more active to be healthy. No arguments there. But watching a didactic documentary or a romance movie and Cartoon Network is relaxing and often soporific, which is also required for fatigued bodies and minds ~ it’s de-stressing. However, watching news channel anchors and spokespersons of political parties is generally bloody because it raises blood pressure, blood sugar, temper and temperatures. It also causes hearing-impairment, severe hang-overish headaches, mental torture and encourages uncivilized behavior, falsities, fallacies and has all potentials to cause fights with friends, family, neighbours, spouses and lovers. Political ideologies that tend to spill over to the social, economic, cultural and religious spheres will certainly not bring us salvation or redeem us from COVID-19. Doctors don’t tell us the deleterious effects of news and views on television because they weren’t taught that in medical school. An online campaign to introduce the subject of the detrimental effects of earsplitting news and views on television in medical schools is urgent now.

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