The Masses Are Always Dumb.

And always will be! I speak here, of people like you and me, who form the majority of most polls, votes, surveys, etc. The other day I was watching Rambo 3, and somewhere along the way this Afghan man says aloud, “God must love crazy people. He made so many of them!” Maybe not all of us are crazy. Maybe some of us just subscribe to the ideologies and opinions of really crazy people. To me there are three kinds of people in this world –

  1. The kind who are crazy enough to have an independent opinion.
  2. The kind who mindlessly and unthinkingly subscribe to others’ ideas.
  3. The kind who are the most deplorable of all – the ones with no opinion.

Personally, I like the first lot the best! They make the most of their grey matter. They might not necessarily have the right opinion always, but they have one! Then again, right and wrong is only but a matter of perspective. What might seem crazy to you might end up sounding brilliant to someone else. Personally, I find the Iranian President Ahmedinejad’s views about America bold and refreshing. He is one of the few political figures I have seen, who are not afraid to call a spade a spade. However, very few would actually concede to this point. Most would simply call him a crazy fool, who ought to think twice before he speaks!

However, most of us do not even have an independent opinion to begin with; we simply agree with somebody else’s idea of something and repeat the same when someone asks for our opinion on the matter. Going by my Political Science textbook, public opinion is not always exactly what we may call the sum total of all the independent opinions. It is but the opinion that has been influenced by what the media or the politicians have to say. It could even be influenced by our peers or by various other factors, but the bottom line is – the public, almost always, end up being victims of propaganda, media, advertisement; or another man’s tools (to achieve his means). In that way, we have much in common with the dystopic society of the book ‘1984’!

The Israel-Palestine issue has been one that has been going on since the war of 1948 that the Israelis like to refer to as the war of independence. Now, maybe the world could live with this war of 1948. Perhaps we could accept that the Post-World War II Jews deserved a place to call their own and even overlook the number of Palestinians who were driven out of their lands and rendered homeless. However, the Israeli government and its army did not stop there. Their ambitions and greed would lead them to capture more land in their war in 1967 and later (till May 2000) in 1982. Still, one could look past these, but how could we as human beings of the 21st century ever condone how the Israeli military has treated the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank? How can we continue to tolerate the atrocities that the Palestinians face on a daily basis?

In the Gaza Strip, until 2005, one-third of the land was occupied by Israel where, about 6,000 Israeli settlers resided. In the rest two-third land, around 1 million Palestinians lived like prisoners in a crowded cell. Their access were completely cut-off from the rest of the world, Israel controlled their entry and exit and transport of daily necessities. On countless occasions, the Israeli government has also tried to stop the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) from providing monthly supplies to the people in refugee camps. Somehow, this kind of news never really reaches the masses with enough force to make an impact, to make any real change.

More appalling was what actually happened in Jenin in the May of 2002. An entire town was bulldozed by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). There were many a tales of cold-blooded murders by the IDF of Palestinian Civilians. And at the end of the day, we saw the death toll estimates plummet from somewhere in 200s to a mere 55. The only official statistics we have of the incident was that published by the Israeli government. What we witnessed then was nothing short of a cover-up of a heinous crime by the Israeli government along with the support of their American counterparts. They avoided a UN fact-finding mission in Jenin by attacking the members on board that team, accusing some for holding anti-Semitic views and saying that the committee’s make-up was ‘very bad for Israel’. So, as far as historical records are concerned, the massacre that happened under the name of “Operation Defence Shield” was only a military operation by the IDF that resulted in 55 deaths.

More surprising than all the lies that we are being fed by these governments, is the fact that we want to believe them. We do not want to consider that their view on the matter may not be an accurate place to draw our opinion from. In many ways, WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, (and) IGNORANCE IS (indeed) STRENGTH!

Nonetheless, the most hopeless of the lot seem to be those that genuinely ‘don’t give a damn’. I was once told that people who say they ‘don’t give a damn’, care enough to let the other person know that they ‘don’t give a damn’; but what if the person doesn’t even care enough to say even that? There are many people who do not even bother to understand the situation at hand to actually form an opinion.

Amongst the last crowd of people there are still this group of people who think holding banners/candles or fasting without ever knowing what exactly they are doing it for. And my country for one, suffers no dearth of such fools!

Case in point: the hunger strike by this old Indian man who has been referred to as the next Gandhi by the media. Anna Hazare, to my great horror, was brought to the global limelight after the government called for his arrest even before he had started his fast. More than the dismay of the government’s blatant move to infringe a person’s freedom of expression and the right to a peaceful protest, the revulsion that actually filled my being was about the fact that the government would make such a blunder as to draw more attention to an event that did not deserve any.

If I ever have to recall those fasts to the generations that succeed me, they will never hear me exalt this event that only went on to prove how easily my fellow country men could be carried away. You see, to follow a certain opinion, you need to first fully understand the opinion. They did not. Not even close. Not even remotely. They followed like the mice that followed the Pied Piper of Hamlin, but this Piper did not even have to play his pipe; he just had to say two words ‘fight’ and ‘corruption’. People had candle-light vigils, started groups on Facebook, went on a march with banners that might not even hint at the Jan Lokpal Bill (the passing of which, was at the root of Mr. Hazare’s fast).

To my great embarrassment, I even happen to know of a young woman who accompanied the rest of her college-mates to sit at the jantar-mantar instead of going for classes. The humiliation would still have been bearable if, when asked why she was supporting ‘Team Anna’ by doing this, she had not replied, ‘I don’t know. All my friends are here and it’s fun.’ So, the whole of India goes in support of a ‘cause’ to have ‘fun’ while simultaneously giving their conscience an ego-boost; definitely not the kind of education that staying in a University classroom would afford them! Meanwhile, the rest of the world believes that the masses of India have awakened from its long slumber, little do they realise that it is less of wakefulness and more of sleep-walking that they are witnessing!

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