JournalismPakistan.com January 13, 2015
So I went to this mega function and there were rows for VVIPS, VIPS, the diplomatic corps, bureaucrats and dignitaries.
After that came the great unwashed with the media given a sort of side table left of stage like the bear in Shakespeare.
And since it was boring as hell and the speeches were more paeans of praise (and who can spell paeans at the first try?) I began let my mind wander (something it is very good at) and it sort of idled along to a thought.
What is a dignitary? Isn’t that a stupid word? You have Excellencies and Honors and even Lordships and stuff and even Distinguished guests (as opposed to the faceless, which is still kind of okay) but ‘dignitaries’ tees me off.
Since the word is obviously derived from dignified how can you assume that the faceless are not eligible for dignity. I am indignant about this. And the more I think about it the more peevish I get as this chappie is waffling on and then he says, with so many dignitaries present in the room, thereby implying that some of us are not dignified enough to be referred to as dignitaries.
And now I am writing little points on the subject, scribbling observations and everyone around must be thinking wow, what a guy, taking notes on the speech (don’t even know what he is on about) and now insist that everyone in any room has a right to be a dignitary.
And so later I am talking to a VVIP (maybe even an extra V if you are so inclined) and I ask him if he can use his clout to end the reign of the dignitary and have it banished from protocol.
This is an issue, he says, this is an issue?
For me it is, I say, I pick up on this like acorns of truth and they grow into huge oak trees.
He looks at me oddly and says, you know you are a little odd, I mean we are fighting major fronts and you are worried about a word.
It’s not the word, I say, it is the principle of the whole matter, you cannot put people into one room and divide them into those with dignity and those without.
We cannot all abolish poverty, some of us have tilt at gentler windmills of the mind.
What if someone said to you, sorry, you cannot sit here, it is only for dignitaries.
(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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