JournalismPakistan.com March 10, 2013
Writers hacking cliches. Photographers snapping carbon copies. Admen reworking Black Books. Marketing chiefs sucking on the fumes of dried up think tanks. Bankers hiding behind computer printouts. Thousands of professionals, running on empty. All the passion spent, settling for doing the grind and letting it go at that.
Always remember being told, be anything but never be common. Being common is a surrender. Whatever you do in life, however insignificant in the cosmic sense, make sure that you aren't common. Not in the being different for the sake of being different but in the sense that you do not lowest common multiple yourself away because you get one shot at life and if you are just another Joe Bloggs, faceless, nameless, one of those elements that make up the masses, what's the use.
So often the disappointment from the commonness of situations and people leaks into our lives. Someone with a formidable reputation behaves in a manner unbecoming and you wonder, why would he be so common in speech, in behavior. A TV show hurtles onto the screen and the star is fatuous to the point of embarrassment. A film, a play, musical performance, mired in mediocrity because it is the numbers game so why appeal to the discerning, let's go for the average lot.
Pettiness of the spirit, boorish conduct, predictable responses, cheap shots, underhand snipings, backdoor deceptions, appreciation for crass and tasteless situations, laughter at people's follies, vulgarity, these are all manifestations of being just another interchangeable entity.
So many of us afraid to be different, to do it our way or find a drumbeat that suits us and the courage to march to it. Do you know why? There is a reason. We don't want to be spotted, the dangers are too palpable in this age of ours. Like the animals we, too, need to be in indistinct herds, no longer ready to pioneer or break fresh ground. Why bother with the hassle, why take the chance, lie low and do nothing special.
You might not believe this, you might think, no that's not true, I am not common. Ask yourself how it upsets you when you meet someone who is just a little out of kilter, who leaves an impression because he or she walk to their own set of rules, play and work by them and make the effort to stand apart. We are uncomfortable, we often jeer or jibe or make unflattering comments because we want to make it more acceptable to ourselves. In our hearts we know that it reflects our own defeat at our own hands and we don't like to acknowledge that.
So, we use phrases like 'big deal', 'no great shakes,' 'I am not impressed' or ' who cares.'
What we really are saying is, wish I had the courage to stop being common.
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
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