Thursday, November 17, 2005

Heretical Haggling!

I seem to operate on a multiple levels of contradictions. But what can I do? My heart is one place, my mind is in another, and my mouth has to play an intricate game of brinkmanship all the time just to keep me balanced. I am after all an activist more by necessity than by choice, and always against my better judgment and my natural inclinations.

Against this backdrop, let me copy here a response to various inquiries I had regarding my recent post dealing in part with the US intervention in Iraq:

… Indeed, I have to say that my view of the US invasion in Iraq is more nuanced than I sometimes suggest. Despite my initial reservations about the invasion, I believe that a positive outcome can indeed be worked out through positive engagement with the Americans and between the various communities in Iraq. It is this kind of engagement that I am advocating for Syria as well but as a preemptive move, orchestrated by the opposition, rather than the regime.

Still, the US invasion seems to have come as an integral part of a shock therapy of sorts. Now, shock therapy is always the hardest kind of therapy, we would have been better off without it, I know, had we not made it so damn inevitable at every turn. We take too much time to assimilate new facts (but in truth there is simply so much of them at any given moment these days), and the world has traditionally been a very hostile place for people who cannot make up their minds, or who take too long a time to do it.

For in truth, we still don’t belong to this Modern World, after all, we have not really taken an active part in making it. As such, we seem more like an alien presence in it, and vice versa. It feels more like an alien in us, and all around us. Indeed, Modernity came to us like a Martian invasion, making this the real War of the Worlds: we bring the disease of atavism and recalcitrance to the Modern World, while it defiles our sacred spaces and things, nullifies our sacred values and notions and rapes our sacred souls (and often bodies as well) to shreds.

Be that as it may, the US invasion comes merely as a new session in our ongoing shock therapy that is our introduction to the Modern World. It is happening in spite of us and not necessarily for our benefit. Still, a more proactive approach to this reality, rather than mere denial thereof (and its implications), a more pragmatic response to it, rather than nihilistic resistance of it, could help us work out the necessary compromises and arrangements that can enable us to bring something positive out of the ongoing mayhem. At their hearts of hearts, many Iraqis seem to understand this truth, as the turnout for the various elections and the millions of purple fingers can attest.

Will Syria have to go through similar baptismal rites to those in Iraq? Well, I hope not. I hope we can prove better hagglers and more savvy consumers than our Iraqi “brethren” have been, so we can get a larger share of freedom as well as better quality leaders at a more affordable price.