Today morning I woke up weighed down by the political developments in the whole world. In one place, an egocentric bully is shouting down his opponent. In another, a power-hungry dictator is doctoring his country's elections and poisoning strong members of his opposition. Yet another wants to distract its populace from the consequences of crop failure, industrial backlash and other problems by threatening the sovereignty of its neighbors.
And here in India, the common man's last hope, the judiciary, has irrevocably gone to the dogs. That has been the unkindest cut of all. It was with all these burdening my heart and head that I sat down for my morning yoga practice. And this poem burst almost fully formed into my head. It flowed, like a soothing balm over my seared mind and put me back on an even keel. It was only later that I remembered that it is the Mahatma's birth anniversary today...
So here it is...
How I long for a leader...
Who embodies the virtues of justice, service to all and harmony
Who does not mow down, shout down or quietly poison his opponents
Who, even while being devout and religious, can see the good in all creeds
And see the needs and wants of oppressed humanity
Whose strength lies not in brawn, networking or TRP ratings
But the courage of his conviction and principles
Whose tenets of frugality, simplicity and truthfulness
Can ever withstand the test of time
Who doesn't need to posture and prance or create fake news
But gives up positions of power to serve the needy.
Alas, the world has produced only one Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
I hope that if the world has been capable of doing this once, it can do it again. That more will come bearing the spirit of this great leader inside. That there will come a time when the forces of Chaos are in abeyance. That there will be harmony, neighborliness and a world in which differences will be a subject of celebration and wonder rather than inspiration for hatred.
Meanwhile, what can the common man do? Make a conscious decision to stop spreading hate. Stop making yourself small by assimilating the hatred messages. Recognize that the voice that tells you to hate your neighbor is manipulating you for its own selfish ends. Realize that hatred always breeds more of itself and there can be no end to it, once you give in.
Bowing before the memory of the Father of our Nation...