Thursday, October 13, 2011

a peace of freedom

Instead of striving to keep afloat in two seas, I should now drown myself in one. A time has come for me to choose. I intend to flourish, and wildly; but indulgence, even in the art of learning and scholarship can lead one to lose ground one way or the other. There's time for all pursuits. There is time.

Wisdom often finds its way out of people's lips most noiselessly. Something similar happened. A professor of mine carelessly spelt out something profound in his lecture today. He said (and I wonder if he realised what he said, when he uttered these words while explaining why it might not be a good idea to give all groups of people a right to self-determination.) "Freedom and Peace don't necessarily come together", he said in passing. I had only the time to type it in between my class notes. And I recalled it just now. The time honored floor is open, I guess. :)

It is often said that 'where you stand depends on where you sit'. May I add that it is from where you sit that you see the world; and where you stand that you speak forth. I think it gives enough room for all beliefs to find a room. So let me examine as I word…

At a perfunctory glance freedom and peace do seem to flow from one another. Ponder a while and fine cracks begin to appear, leading you on to wonder. Is freedom the be all? Is peace the end all? What is peace? And what is it that we call freedom? Does peace imply a people simply free from unrest or does it mean a Utopian silence regardless of its people? Is peace a tranquil state of affairs or does peace essentially entail a continuous effervescence and churning of thought processes? What if such churning leads to revolt? What if that revolt is in turn not peaceful in its true sense? Would it then be a temporary suspension of peace or a transitional phase of 'peacelessness'? Would such 'peacelessness' not be more desirable to you and I than 'peace' as we might ideally think of it?

Does peace allude to a right to strive for freedom and justice and even literary pursuits such as to dream, decide and be? When exactly is a nation 'in peace'? Never, one would say. And yet, if one sees from the precipice of war, a certain peace prevails almost always. But then even wars are fought in 'aspiration' to peace. The path to peace thus doesn't necessarily have to be peaceful. So, is it that peace is not what we aspire when we aspire peace?

Reverting to the question of aspirations: what is it that a nation state should ideally aspire? Freedom? From who? I would say from its own vices, the debauchery of its own people, from the very rust that corrodes it, which like a tidal wave is consistent, continual, real and most importantly, must be only expected. 'Solution' is not the key here I guess, acceptance is.

In order to understand what peace is in the context of a State, either we alter the definition of peace as we know it or at best tweak it a little to give meaning to what we really wish to convey by 'peace'.

Peace is where justice is given a venerated place to reside. For justice is what we seek in peace and what we search in our freedom. However, the moment gates are thrown open to justice, the threat to peace - which in my tweaked definition of peace would translate as an anathema to peace – slips in too. So, peace even at its best might not be peaceful. Again, 'peace' is not exactly what we aspire to achieve when we aspire for peace. Perhaps a leeway then for lawful 'peacelessness' is the price to pay for peace?

And so, what of freedom? If I were to put it rudimentarily, I would say freedom resides in the well-founded and working (and accepted) 'madness' of the political, social and economic machinery of a free State. Freedom resides in rights even as it includes the right not to be free. Freedom resides where tolerance is exercised by the victor as much as by the vanquished. Freedom resides even in war. Freedom resides in voice and acceptance and debate and forbearance. The test of 'freedom pure' is not in examining whether it resides in disagreement but whether it can flourish in dissent. For freedom agrees where a people disagree as a cohesive unit. It is where the powerless (or the minority) find a right to disagree that freedom meets peace.

It is now that 'justice pure' - the ultimate gospel - could be and should be conceived.