When a bird is put in a cage, it tries to look for a way out. As time goes by, the bird gradually reduces its struggle. It gets grains to eat, a water trough to drink from, its cage is covered to save it from the elements, it gets to see the same people whom it starts to trust as friends and one day, the bird completely forgets its initial struggles and starts to sing.
You can open the cage door now, but the bird will not fly away. It has forgotten that it has wings and, once out of the cage, it can fly to wherever it wants. It has become a prisoner of its illusions and its perception of freedom has changed.
Now, when it sees a free flying bird, it thinks of it as a poor creature with no guarantees of security and misreads the other bird’s freedom as unnecessary struggle, and no freedom at all.
A very close friend of mine, now living in the US, in the “Great State of Texas,” and disgusted by the stupidity of many people in the South, commented, that, when you sacrifice freedom for the sake of security, you end up losing both.
We do see the veracity of his words, as we see hordes of bigoted, racist, and misogynistic people shouting for a fellow bigot, the “orange-haired” nightmare.
They are, in most cases, disillusioned by the fall of the dominance of white supremacy and the rise of the intelligent, more than them, in many cases, of the immigrants who are not necessarily whites.
Overlooking the fact that their “white ways” of the post second World War era have fallen flat on its collective face; and chasing girls and doing all things considered “red-blooded American,” have not done them much good as we arrived at the new millennium, and those Americans woke up to a new reality.
They failed to realise that the new world is colour-blind, but they are still sticking to their former biases.
We, as people, are also prisoners of illusions. We like to stick to the established ethos of society, we develop a herd mentality, and feel uncomfortable doing anything contrary to what the herd is doing -- the past becomes a lesson for the future.
We suffer from insecurities when someone talks of ways beside the accepted ones, because we have stopped to think for ourselves. We fear death because our society has not taught us to take it as a natural end to life. We fear any type of chaos that a contrarian view may create in our minds.
We fear change as it may deprive us from the security that the herd ostensibly provides -- thinking for ourselves makes our illusion of being a part of the whole shatter into pieces.
We have started to love the cage and avert our eyes from the open skies.
Nietzsche said: “Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.”
Pity, to a nation that has had such glorious history of journalism aimed at the aspirations of people
I have gone through all this, some would consider it a babble, with an aim that is closer to home. Let me tell you why, or speak my mind if you would allow me.
It has something to do with the state of journalism in today’s Bangladesh, mostly the print media and television talk shows, the latter having become either the voice of opposition or the platform of flatterers; objectivity is not of much consideration.
The bane of journalism today in Bangladesh is self-censorship.
This is a direct result of self-serving goals, an ambition of journalists to become part of the “elite” and all the exposé reported, if any, are lost with lack of follow-ups, an obvious sign of “journalists” on sale.
I do not insinuate that the government has brought the guillotine of censorship on them.
A wink here and there, a red-eyed threat, or an anonymous telephone call have always been the part and parcel of the profession; some have even been “chopped off” in their pursuits of journalistic integrity.
But that has happened since the time man scrawled his grievances on a cave wall, and that has not deterred the journalist in their endeavours or fights against injustices meted out to their readers -- the populace.
But journalism has reached a nadir, and selflessness has left the great profession.
Add to that, lack of knowledge, being oblivious of history and the teachings of history, questioning history as hitherto presented, and an overall inability of studying events without any obvious bias and lack of political acumen that lead to a media that is more sensationalist than objective and/or sensitive to the plights of the masses.
The masses realise this when they read the papers or see the news on TV, but are rendered powerless by the overwhelming influence of the “elite.”
When university professors become lackeys for sale, what can the common Abdul or Jorina do? They go home carrying an 18-kg rice sack instead of the promised 20.
They think it’s better to be thankful for the 18 in case it reduces even further.
And what we find are the kowtowing “journalists” asking inane questions at the “Q&A” with the PM, journalists old and aspiring, who would like nothing better than to be on the good side of the government, perchance they get perks of special positions of foreign travel to inspect the lighting arrangement of a government building, say, in Western Europe.
Pity, to a nation that has had such glorious history of journalism aimed at the aspirations of people. Pity, to those, if not all, who hold cards as journalists to gain access to the innards of the government, only to become parasites once inside.
SM Shahrukh is a freelance contributor.