Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Truth About Speaking Out (The Truth)

I have not laid down my virtual pen in this blog for quite a while. The last post was actually on 6 Feb 2007.

How time flies! One blink of an eye and a month has passed quietly. A new lunar year has arrived. Coldness gives space to the fresh heat of Spring, while brightness takes over the gloomy, rainy days of the year-end monsoon weather. 2007 has sat in firmly, and February has been welcomed even without some people's knowledge. Very soon it'll be March, and before we know it, half a year may be gone, just like that.

In this constant, never-stopping flow of time and tide, how should one place him/ herself in the sweeping currents of this societal evolution without getting wash away, totally overwhelmed and submerged in the raging forces, and finally succumbing to it to come to lose oneself?

My mentor speaks of the importance of having courage in order to secure one's happiness, "It takes courage to become happy - courage to remain true to one's convictions, courage not to be defeated by one's weaknesses and negativity, courage to take swift action to help those who are suffering."

"To remain true to one's conviction". How true are these words! More often than not, along the course of our lives, we must have already come across or witnessed some people who would discard or alter their beliefs the moment circumstances or conditions became unfavourable to them. Exercising a rootless intellectuality that sways with the unseen yet tangible forces, they amend their beliefs and convictions once they see that immediate benefits can be reaped, or seeds of future favours can be sowed.

Two shows on TV recently each featured one shining example of human character and endeavour - one was a Hollywood movie 'Ali, played by Will Smith in honour for the 'greatest sportsman', while the other was the 49th Grammy Music Award.

Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest, if not the greatest, athletes of all time, has been a 'true fighter' throughout his entire life. His first history-altering move was not in the ring, but entirely out of it - he took faith in Islam in his younger days, and instead of following the the long-held tradition of using his 'slave name', Cassius Clay, he insisted the world to acknowledge him as 'Muhammad Ali', a name that will forever shine with brilliance in the annals of human history.

In 1967, when the Vietnam War was escalating, Muhammad Ali was called for induction into the Armed Services. Ali refused the induction on the grounds of religious beliefs. He was, in fact, a practicing Muslim minister then. This refusal led to the now-famous Ali quote, "I ain't got no quarrel with them Vietcong..." This outburst, together with Ali's refusal against the induction, led to a national furor and all states and local entities in America proceeded to cancel Ali's boxing licences. Ali did not fight again for 2 ½ years. He was stripped of his championship title, his passport taken; all his boxing licenses were cancelled. He lost an initial court battle and was facing a 5-year prison term. during this exile period, Ali made money by speaking at colleges. He was virtually the first national figure to speak out against the war in Vietnam.

In 1971, with the mood in the country changing, Ali staged a comeback fight against the undefeated champion Joe Frazier in what was termed 'The Fight of the Century'. He lost the fight on 8 March, but months later The Supreme Court reversed his conviction and upheld his conscientious claim. In short, the judiciary had agreed to what he had refused against and spoken out - the Vietnam War deadlock the US government was entangled and caught in. From then on, Ali was free to travel anywhere he wished, and from all possiblity of jail-term conviction as well. Furthering this success was that he began a string of victories in the ring which ultimately led him to where he is standing now - the Athlete/ Sports Personality of the Century.

The second example which was shown on TV are the country-band 'Dixie Chicks'. In the latest 49th Grammy Awards, they came back from an almost nationally-banned three years' absence to secure five Grammy Awards, including the three prestigious 'Award/ Record/ Song/ of the Year'. And the reason for their ban was in fact an outburst made by one of the members, Natalie Maines, who criticised George Bush of his political agenda and strategy, right on the eve of the 2003 Iraq war. That was the year when President Goerge Bush enjoyed an approval rating of up to 70%.

Right after that critical remark made, their sales plummeted and even death threats were received. Basically, they were condemned as traitors by the media as well and much as by the public. Laying low for three years, and again as in Muhammad Ali's case, with the mood in America for their external war changing, America slowly began to accept and perhaps even understand what policital stance the Dixie Chicks had taken then. Thus the public has, perhaps for once, reaslised that the war they fervently supported and cheered loudly for might not be as truthful and correct a war it has seemed to be. At present, radio stations have began playing the Dixie Chicks' songs again, the public has gradually embraced back their songs, and more importantly, the mainstream media are starting to acknowledge the meaning written in their songs - they still voice out what they think and feel through their musical creations.

In a nutshell, the public might have been awakened by Maines' courageous words finally, when at the point of speaking out, they probably have experienced a much agitated sentiment toward the negative comment made at their beloved President.

What these two examples have displayed and revealed to me is one simple yet golden rule: never allow one's circumstance, however bad it maybe, to overwhelm or swallow one up. Against all odds, he/ she must have the courage to muster up all strength and conviction to call out the inner truth he or she is enlightened to. This is probably the only way to live a life true to oneself, as well as showing another person exactly how one should stand firmly against all ravaging storms of falsehoods and deceptions. At the end of the day, before turning in, we are probably the only ones we need to answer to; at the end of our lives, we are also probably the only ones whom we need to face up to. Though one can build a beautiful facade of exterior to cover up one's lies or ill intentions, one cannot run away from the almighty conscientious consciousness one carries inside him. This element alone will come to determine how much value one has created through one's actions, and possibly also how worthy one's life is, in this short lifespan of a human existence on this planet.

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