I once read a book by Terry Brooks, where the powerful
Druid, Walker Boh is trapped by genius machines created by foolish men.
Victimized by the soullessness of the true machine, he is pinioned on a sterile
table with invasive tubes attached to him, and fed lifelike visions where he is
fleeing from repeated attacks by relentless creepers of steel that seek to cut
him up and is forced to use magic to defend himself. The machines then siphon
away the potent energy expended and use it to power their cells. Poor Walker is
helpless to defend himself, and the machines are perfectly content to let him
keep at it, without respite, till even his formidable mind, cracks under the ceaseless
strain. This is somewhat like the Matrix movies, but scarier.
Sometimes, I am convinced that we are all doomed to
suffer the same fate as Walker, except, we choose to be trapped in an alternate
reality, expending our vital life force on infinite inanities, so that we don’t
have to cope with the evils of a broken world. How else do we explain the
unvarying nature of crime and consequences? Of life’s predictable pattern of
chasing highs which plunge us into fathomless lows? We are being fed the same
stories with only a few variables altered, to trigger us into responding with
incoherent rage. We flail at shadowy oppressors with all the ‘weapons’ in our
arsenal, believing we are slaying them and making a difference. We keep tilting
ferociously at nebulous nothings hoping that something will change.
It was only as recently as 2020, when the molten rage
of the public spilled over when Bennix and Jayaraj became victims of custodial
torture in TN. Now, we are directing our ire at ASP Balveer Singh, accused of
torturing as many as ten suspects, two of whom were minors at the Ambasamudram
police station. Apparently, he yanked out teeth using pliers, crushed testicles
and used the police baton to devastating effect. Elsewhere, in the hallowed
premises of Kalakshetra, a bastion of culture and tradition, founded by the
legendary Rukmini Devi Arundale, allegations of sexual harassment have flown
thick and fast, not long after the #MeToo movement, promising positive change, ran
out of steam. Meanwhile, a video of the Dalai Lama asking a little boy to suck
on his tongue has gone viral. In all these cases, there has been condemnation
aplenty. But a familiar pattern has emerged with higher ups demonstrating a
fierce commitment towards protecting the accused while leaving the victims to
deal with the nuclear fallout. The same as always.
Clearly, things will never change if we stick to tried
and tested non – solutions for societal ills. Where we allow our deep-seated
fear of tackling the powerful, for fear of ruination, rule us to the point
where we are happy to kowtow to a system designed to let the strong thrive
while the weak are crushed.
Perhaps, it is best to let the machines take charge.
The hope is that we can program them to do better than us. While we sink deeper
into a morass of merciful oblivion.
My Sunday Column for The New Indian Express