Speak Before Others Make You Dumb

By Satadru Bhattachar. Satadru, 50, works for the Indian Railways. He is also a freelance writer and journalist. He lives in Kolkata, India. Please read his article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

There is hardly any doubt that the trend in vogue among most of us is to pretend to be a high-muck-a-muck, in every possible or impossible subject and, in turn, come out to be an asinine panjandrum and nothing else. Surprisingly and alarmingly enough, the very human tendency of exhibitionism has earned the current currency called professionalism. Showmanship in blowing the trumpet of nonsense smartness does attract quite a few pip-squeaks, instantaneously. This clearly indicates the gradual degradation of our intellectual parameter, in fact, our logic, and for certes, the peril is here only.

“Doesn’t it seem ridiculous to you when you find someone engaged in shoulder-shrugging balderdash for showing some extra smartness followed by a bit of erudite remark and thus attempting to get past others?” My mentor and role model, Satyajit Ray, the legendary film director, commercial artist, composer and writer from India, used to say. Slashing at such snobbery, if not superiority complex, he advised us to be, first and foremost, an intent listener, to try earnestly to delve deep into the core of what one says, to pick the jewels out of it, if there is any, in fact, there ought to be some, and then to polish those jewels, preferably inviting our friends, for making those sparkle the most. But have I, in my turn, really propagated his message? No. If I, claiming to be a literate person, do not bother to tread on the track of my idol, how can I bubble with robust optimism that someone more iconic, greater than the messiahs of different ages or maybe the Almighty Himself, would appear from nowhere and goad us to the sublime path of real knowledge, dragging us out of the present scenario of insane self-centred mad rush and hectic activities?

Well, an eminent personality on another day tried to examine the cause of such human folly. To him, it is the misinterpretation of the eternal truth, “survival of the fittest and struggle for existence”. This jostling for being in the rat race, rather in the desperate competition of becoming the dominating supreme power, has compelled the parents, guardians and even the teachers to inculcate the word ‘professionalism’, with all its poison, into the immature brains of the tiny tots. Your mission is to become first, by hook or by crook. How will you start then? Snatch every opportunity to speak in a debate or a group discussion or an opinion-sharing meeting, go on speaking as long as you can so that your competitor may hardly get any chance to prove his or her mettle. No matter even if you are not an expert of anything, you have to be a jack of all trades. You have to groom yourself as a shrewd and fluent orator, accentuating with ready wit, humour, satire, sarcasm and even caricaturing and vanquishing your competitor with harsh criticism. This has become a must lesson for every student.

A few months back it somehow happened that I could overhear a personality development teacher, while delivering lectures saying, “If you are not tall enough in the crowd and are unable to draw public’s or your superior’s attention towards you, find out a brick or a log or some platform, stand on it, do something new, unusual, even you can attempt peculiar gestures. You will notice all eyes are towards you. Basically, the common masses are fools. Just to test them, once in my youth, I looked straight to the summit of a monumental tower for two or three minutes, deliberately posing as a great philosopher. You won’t believe I found at least thirty persons of different ages gathered around me and imitated me. So whenever you are supposed to speak on any issue, don’t get bothered if you haven’t got everything of what you’ve listened, just raise your hand first and speak out. You will be the winner. It is just like a comprehension test in your secondary school standard. You have to write down the answers, sometimes clipping a sentence or a phrase would suffice. You need not comprehend ‘the meaning of every word written in the passage.” Psychologically, it may sound disappointing but it is true enough, and hence, one cannot refute what Stephen R. Covey

remarks, “Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

The situation is getting incorrigibly worse day by day. It is not that one’s conscience gets never pricked when one sees someone tortured brutally, maybe a minor girl raped for the sake of horrible lust or a family assassinated because of caste or religious discrimination. Still one prefers to remain safe as a passive onlooker, just like the millions during Nazi oppression. One evades one’s role of raising a word of protest and mobilising others for revolt while speaking in the pessimistic overtone. Yes, we are definitely aware of the fact that we, the most reasonable, evolved and technologically supreme animals, are heading towards our doomed denouement like dinosaurs due to our destructive acts of deforestation, lunatic contribution towards environmental pollution. This heinous crime on our part has been aggravating global warming, depleting the ozone layer, melting glaciers on mountain tops and ice in Antarctica for years. But when we listen to all these we do hardly comprehend the gravity of the situation, never dare to be on our toes for the much needed enterprise towards reformation and last but not the least, do philosophise, while speaking like a cynic, only adding insult to injury. Be it the requirement of routine road repairing in our area or the blood-curdling genocide in any part of the globe, we do definitely speak superficially and stupidly as soon as we come to know about, with a nonsense, negative and inhuman approach, without any contemplative or introspective thought. Our inclination towards the so-called sophisticated smartness is the instigating factor.

At this critical juncture, although apprehension looms large, yet speaking casually, callously and negatively as per our groomed nature would not pave anything for our future, rather our prudence, consciousness, rectification and, quintessentially, our creative beckoning for the sake of mankind should be our common understanding and goal too – now or never.

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