Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Far lonelier than the dark depths of Pluto can be public patches deserted by living, breathing people. And it happens, with unfailing regularity. This desertion of a civic responsibility then threatens our welfare and survival as a species.

Let me start small.

The black dog  got too close for comfort today. It came within a foot, saliva swinging and swimming over meat eating canines and he growled. I had no forewarning. He was quite placidly settled on a mound of sand in the nippy air. I was swinging along energetically, bent upon extracting the most out of the morning jaunt.

Just as I made to negotiate the turn, Blackie got to his feet. Crouched over dipped forelegs, he ducked his head, fixing me with eyes rolled back. Overcome by a fearful cold wave, I swung my short black baton, screaming with my stomach. Three more strays meanwhile had crept up behind the vicious leader, baying and snapping. They began to  encircle me, scraping the tar with their claws, bodies primed to pounce. All sense of my surroundings began to recede. I only saw and heard and responded to this one live threat facing me. Rattled at their aggressive hostility, I lunged for a brick and swung it at the pack. Their ears promptly went flat just before they loped off.

I stood there, shaking. My heart raced and sucked for breath. 
As I regained focus and the eye lens cleared, I looked to my right; there had been the slightest of movements. A morning walker was edging tentatively into view, leading his Dachshund by a leash. He had seen me! He had heard me! I saw that in a snap from his crafted gait. He had waited for the inconvenience to pass before entering the scene.

We are like that. We hate engaging on terms not familiar to us. We also have a fundamental belief in our ineffectiveness.

That is it. Our daily life is fuelled by a numb inertia.

We don’t really believe we can make a difference. When we talk of changing the system, we are invariably thinking lofty, as in systemic at the national and global level. Truth is that we have our own personal circles of influence within our reach where we exercise total control. The slightest shift in those still waters of habit can
shoot off vibrant impulses of change.

What if that gentleman had stepped forward? What if he had not dashed back to routine safety? What if he had charged at the brutes? What if he had come with me to lodge a complaint at the guard room? 

My faith in humanity would have soared, infusing me with the energy for a hundred civic deeds. Imagine the positive domino effect. Instead I came away from the experience feeling alone, afraid, isolated, convinced that our homes are lined by mean streets.
It is not that we are powerless. We are power wasters. More and more, our strength has come to mean numbers. We do not assert affirmative social action even in the immediate radii that belong to us. Inaction is more convenient.                                                                                        

1 comment:

Sage Harman said...


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sage.harman123 at