I borrow the title of today’s piece from author Reza Aslan’s acclaimed book of the same title. But my reasons for titling my piece are entirely different from those of Aslan. My write-up is more about practical art of survival than about the hypothetical theories about existence. This is about common people who weave their lives around adversities, atrocities and inequity. This is not about grandstanding greats; this is about ground-licking mortals. This is about me. This could be about you as well; if not today, may be tomorrow. Common people, like you and me, have mundane needs. Their rat races are no rallies— with or without candle lights. They run for their survival. For them, the art of survival is the supreme form of art which no connoisseur can dare to ignore. Their lives are paint brushed with concerns of food, shelter and clothing. They also lead revolutions, but of a different nature. Their revolutions are, by all means, non violent. Not for the heck of it but for real reasons. They espouse non violence as their religion as they have no other choice. They are not converts to non violence; they are reborn believers. They too raise their voices; but not for sloganeering. Their raised voices are for admonishing their children or occasionally their wives. Their concerns are hardly global nor is their approach. Their world view stops at their courtyard. They, at the most, reach out to their neighbors for help or even for squabbles. They also speak of liberty and freedom. But it is more about being freed from concerns about inflation and rising prices. They even run their own campaigns. They also collect signatures but for entirely different reasons. Maybe for sagging electricity wires in their locality or for broken roads. Their arsenals are meant more for construction than destruction. Their sticks are not laced with nails nor are their hands adorned with metallic punches. They carry spades, hammers or crowbars. They actually don’t carry them. They bear the burden of these instruments. Given a choice, they would never touch these. But they don’t have a choice!
The people I am talking about have only one vice; Patience. The accumulated wisdom of years of toil and turmoil has taught them to be patient in the face of adversity. Their patience comes from their tortured history. Their history for survival is dotted with ephemeral reigns of masters of their destiny. Gods, if I may say. They have seen the rise and fall of so many such gods that they have become oblivious not even to their tyranny but even to their existence. They have seen gods whose sneeze would bring a tempest and whose yawns could cause famines. But they have been witness to their ignominious ends as well. Many of their gods have eaten dust, many more have sipped the sewerage waters, literally. That’s why their blood rarely boils. Their silence is not graceful though. It is painful. It is the silence of lambs. It disturbs the sleep of the gods. Its high pitched message transcends all forms of human conscience to declare; No god but God!