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The Persistance of Perseverance

December 17, 2008
One of my favourite movies, V for Vendetta, has a beautiful monologue about a man trying to kindle a sense of hope and optimism in the imagination of his fellow brothers and sisters. And it goes something like this…(An excerpt from the movie, V for Vendetta)

” V: Good evening, London. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine- the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration, thereby those important events of the past usually associated with someone’s death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, a celebration of a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat. There are of course those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent. Last night I sought to end that silence. Last night I destroyed the Old Bailey, to remind this country of what it has forgotten. More than four hundred years ago a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives. So if you’ve seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you then I would suggest you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me one year from tonight, outside the gates of Parliament, and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever be forgot.

The above passage has a great sense of pragmatism associated with it. And if you read closely, you will see that the speaker has appealed to what we believe in and what we subsequently end up doing. Take any great speech for that matter, and you will find the aroma of hope and at the end of it, a sense of relentless will to do something. Al Pacino’s speech in “Any Given Sunday”, is another example of words having an impeccable impact, so much so that, I can’t sleep without listening to that clip atleast once! Over the past few years, I have come across video and audio clips of some influential speeches, out of which, Steve Jobs speech at Stanford’s commencement, James Nachtwey’s speech while accepting TED prize, and Barack Obama’s Victory speech stand out. I would like to point out a bit about Obama here, since he’s the man who seems to have captured the imagination of millions of people across the world.

A lot many things have been said and written about Obama, but nothing compares to the feeling which you undergo when you hear him talk. He doesn’t say great things, but I have always wondered why some speeches become the talk of town and sometimes of the country, world as well. And after having listened to his Victory Speech in Chicago and another speech in 2004 in Illinois when he was campaigning for John Kerry, have cleared all doubts in my mind about the power of words. I have realised that no matter what, a simple phrase will reach people’s heart if you utter with utmost sincerity and belief. No wonder, his political meetings bring such huge cheer and crowds from all walks of life. Probably, the next thing I am gonna do is to listen to all his debates and speeches to inject a dose of hope and optimism into my otherwise banal life.

They say, the simple and most beautiful things in life are free. Like a smile, tears, love, anger, fear, joy…ideas, perspective. And if we have to fight for them or even struggle to be able to catch a glimpse of them in our life, then be sure that there is something wrong with your life. It’s not what your mirror shows you, but it’s that brief moment of doubt in your mind, which makes you stand (or not stand) infront of a mirror for a longer time…that is a sign that things aren’t what they have to be. People write tons of random stuff (including this post!..:P) to address how to resolve the crisis under such circumstances, I say, bullocks! How does one know what’s with your life? How does a doctor know what’s wrong with your head? There might be a cure for a lot of things, but is there a cure for hopelessness, the void in your life, the isolation…? Things like this can stay for a long time, consuming you from within, but life works in a magical way. All you need is a perspective called…Belief! God knows what sort of endorphin is released in our brain, but it’s true! Things seem brighter and more chirpy when there is belief in our mind and heart. And what can be more beautiful, than seeing this sense of belief cure the dogma, that we cannot stand on our feet unless we have a helping hand!

At the end of the day, I wonder, how much of a changed person I am. Few years ago, when someone asked me, what do I want to be? I said, I wanted to be a respected person in the society. I didn’t have an iota of knowledge what meant or how can I achieve it. And now when people ask me (after having seen how out of place I am in my current profession) what do I really wanna be and do? I say, I want to be a writer. And they laugh…See, this is what I call “The Persistence of an uncurable dogma”. I now see a clear path ahead and as far as I can see, there’s no one around. And I just walk alone…with a hope that, others will smile and rejoice when I reach my goal one day. Right now, I am in the middle of nowhere! Probably I would need a lot more Steves, Obamas, David Mitchells, Al Pacinos, Pete McCarthys, friends, strangers, movies, books, videos, blogs, ideas, thoughts, perspective, belief…to believe that,….”Yes, I can.”

To put an end to this endless stream of consciousness, here’s a modification of another quote from “V for Vendetta”…
Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, my friend, and ideas are bulletproof.

Amen,
Hemanth

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