Born to be Wilde

Writing about social issues used to give me fake powers. Arms stretched out, I jogged across a building terrace – pinching the loose ends of my superhero cape. I was on a mission way to save lives. Tackle injustice. Analyze political quagmires. Make bold statements about societal norms. No fear of consequences. Always ready to fight the good fight.

When I reached the terrace’s edge, I put one foot up on a raised platform. I folded my left elbow and cupped the right shoulder with the center of my palm. I looked up to the sky before peering, heroically, at the city below. I saw all the people on the ground. So many of them needed help. They wanted to be rescued.

Sometime in the 18th century, playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton had suggested that the pen was mightier than the sword. It is hard to disagree because writing can be a potent instrument of change. At least, as long as writers don’t take themselves too seriously.

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Nowadays, whenever I write about social issues, I feel a little guilty. It is as though I am taking selfies in front of accident victims to talk about the dangers of drunken driving. A vanity project to expunge my middle-class guilt and gain some popularity in the process.

Most of the time, I end up sending strongly-worded memos to the system, through the system, about how the system has failed. And how people are suffering because of it.

It is easy to represent the marginalized – as a writer. It requires minimum effort to elucidate on matters regarding their social and economic rights. They have been sidelined since time immemorial. Photo-shopped out of the big picture. Shoved aside to make room for Starbucks. Ignored by the government, at large, and the average citizen.

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Hope lies in those willing to spend time outside their homes. Those who can leave their office cubicles and friend’s basements to do something about it. People must rise. Stand up. Not just to adjust their innerwear so that they can sit comfortably and contribute to news agencies or post updates on social media. Rather, they must stand beside the downtrodden, and show the world that they aren’t alone.

As for writers, we are the Ringo Starrs of social activism. We can be replaced with some other drummer. Most people won’t even notice it.

Either, Oscar Wilde got it partly right when he wrote that, “All art is useless”. Or my fifth-grade teacher absolutely nailed it when he screamed at me, “Rascal, you just don’t care about anything”.

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(Images: Shutterstock)

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25 comments

  1. Yikes. Too close home:) But as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions? Writing about social issues does give an insufferable air though. Like the expression of the guy zipping up his pant after their business as they walk past the last guy in the long queue outside the mensroom. Look, I won a pissing contest; I posted first; I empathized at the zeroeth hour.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Writing about world issues is a means to escape from the guilt of either being part of the problem or not being affected by it. The curse of globalisation and the Internet is that we can now pass opinions and cry foul over issues that happen all over the world. Much better if we can silently fix small injustices in our homes and neighbourhood than write about saving the world.

    I plead guilty too, but of late, whenever there is an issue that bothers me, I intentionally stay off the net, lest I throw in my gems there. And I tell myself – LG, shut up and do something about the problem, or just shut up.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I just read a comment on another social channel about how it’s better to say something than be silent. I agree with the spirit of what you are saying too. It goes to the adage, sort of, how “if you want something done, go do it yourself”.

      Guilt too, as you wrote, is a big factor. I didn’t quite think about that angle.

      Also, do you say “LG” during soliloquies? Hehe.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I address myself with expletives during soliloquies; not suitable to be disclosed in public medium. The mildest form would be “you idiot”.

        I believe you raise noise only when you know that the noise will be heard and something happens as a result. An individual called “LG”, ranting about Nirbhaya’s rape or bribes in government jobs, in her blog, will not wipe the crap off a rats backside.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Honest writing about social issues has always been a little tricky for me by the time I reach the end of story, the essence is cannibalized by my sad thoughts & feelings. I agree, it’s important to do something about it if one really wants to make a change. You know – ‘Be the Change’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Cannibalized” is a visceral and honest way of putting it. I am going to use that, thank you. I wish I had the fortitude to be the change. I seem to be more concerned about my Internet speed. I suppose, there’s some bastardized grace in that, for the readers.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You’ve worded them so well I couldn’t help but just nod! That goes for the writers…. but then there are people who feel real bad about a situation and think deeds and not words as the need of the hour and end up in a dogmatic mess neither delivering deeds nor words…. so what to say for those?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Very appropriate with my new post. hehehe.
    But Christy, it is important to write. It is important to be balanced and tempered, but it is important to write none the less.
    We need to use information to challenge our brain cells and realize what we can do, like the power of erosion from a constant flow of water, making an impact, slowly but surely…..each one, help one!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve been thinking along these lines this past week. There’s so much to do. But, where to begin? And then, I realize that every small step counts and even two minutes a day can build up over time to result in something that can have a considerable impact.
    But, writing is good, too. It shows that you care. Then again, I guess it shouldn’t just end there. But, on the other hand, not everyone is meant to do everything. Some write, some go out and do. And, well some just don’t do anything.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So much to do and just not enough gumption in me, Sheth. It’s why I admire those who take a chunk out of their lives to stay committed to causes. But the more I hear of it, the more inclined I am to believe – every step counts indeed!

      Liked by 1 person

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