Of wolves, rabbits & humans!

Are you labeled defiant? A hard-nut to crack? A hotspur? And is it because you scorn to follow absurdity or you scorn to roll with the mob or you scorn to go with the so-called majority? Maybe that’s why you have the prospects of cultivating only a few well-wishers and a good number of ‘opponents’. Inevitably, there is no option but to cut up rough before the “giant majority”.

In fact, the parasite of “Majoritarianism” devours up everything; makes and breaks rules; grants and holds favors; and tarnishes everything beyond its recognition. And you do nothing but flounce out. You don’t even have a chance to regret being meshed up in a hot potato. Enveloped by hard feelings, your exuberance is scotched. You feel like one among those helpless rabbits of a famous fable by author James Thurber. It narrates that within the memory of the youngest child there was a family of rabbits who lived near a pack of wolves. The wolves announced that they did not like the way the rabbits were living. The wolves were crazy about the way they were living because it was, as per them, the only way to live. One night several wolves were killed in an earthquake and this was blamed on the rab­bits, for it is well known that rabbits pound on the ground with their hind legs and cause earthquakes. On another night, one of the wolves was killed by a bolt of lightning and the blame was again put on the rabbits, for it is well­-know lettuce-eaters cause lightning. The wolves threatened to civilize the rabbits if they didn’t behave properly. Frightened, the rabbits decided to run away to a desert island. But the other animals, which lived at a distance shamed them saying- “You must stay where you are and be brave. This is no world for escapists. If the wolves attack, we will come to your aid, in all probability.”

So, the rabbits continued to live near the wolves and one day there was a terrible flood which drowned a great many wolves. The rabbits were yet again blamed for it is well-known that carrot-nibblers with long ears cause a flood. The wolves were enraged. They descended on the rabbits for their own good and imprisoned them in a dark cave for their own protection.

When nothing was heard about the rabbits for some weeks, the other animals demanded to know what had happened to them. The wolves replied that the rabbits had been eaten and the affair was a purely internal matter.  The intervention of a third party was dismissed! But the other animals warned that they might possibly unite against the wolves unless some reason was given for the annihi­lation of the rabbits. So the wolves gave them one—“They were trying to escape”, said the wolves, “and, as you know, this is no world for escapists”.

Escapism, after brooding over this satirical fable, never necessarily means an end of life. One of the conceptual interpretations can be that life is precious, come what may, and all of us should learn to be survivors. It is not easy to be a survivor, but it is always worth the effort. And then, some interpret escapism as a silent and graceful withdrawal. Not analogous to surrender. It can be simply evading in a peaceful dignified way. Deliberate indifference to something that proves inconsequential for your fight. Least expecting that ‘majority’ can be conquered. And that too when ‘majority’ can manufacture a hundred excuses, bogging you down in a manner wolves put silly faults on rabbits.

Obviously, for what others call ‘non-conformity’, the people whip you with their displeasure and look askance at you. You are questioned, stopped, stigmatized, mentally hassled, put in a cell, pressurized to do ‘selective compromises’ and whatnot.

Then, does escapism imply slackness? Perhaps not. It can be a loner search, a strong quest for something else when your previous search is vitiated, turned bitter and vexatious; an exploration of a route—route of escape from whence you can set-out on another journey, another destination and of course, another island! Fleeing but with a purpose—to fight back in a different way. 

Bottomline: Brushing aside whatever stifles us, you can be a good spectator and enjoy the drama of “wolves” at a distance. At times, it’s worth it! For there is not much difference between wolves, rabbits and human beings! All are swarming around in concert. There are wolves in human clothing, waiting to pounce on frail fateful individuals who remind you of rabbits. Ala animal farm orchestra of malice and prejudice, it’s mainly humans who don the role of different animals at different points of time.