Thursday, February 19, 2004

To not vote or Not to vote

Election Day is upon us and I find myself agonizing about the split infinitives. I wonder if those in power ever wonder about such mundane matters. For you see, our friendly split infinitives, just like life, work in mysterious ways.

There are no Supreme Leaders having the final word about how they may (or may not) be employed. There are no Guardian Councils anywhere attempting to (dis)qualify anyone before s/he has had a chance to form an incorrect construct. No one is going to be beaten, tortured, imprisoned, mutilated or dismembered for having employed an inappropriate syntax.

Yet somehow, millions have agonized over the split infinitives. People have freely associated, cooperated, learned from one another and instructed each other. Lives have been transformed because of these interactions and because of mutual learning. Rules have been debated, scrutinized, internalized, and often memorized. The matter has never been settled once and for all, and this, probably has been for the best.

Consequently, the language we use is dynamic, vibrant and perpetually changing in order to keep up with our ever changing material circumstances. Thus, the language that helps us comprehend, organize, present and disclose this immense set of interrelatedness which constitute our experience of life itself serves as a source of immense joy and enchanting creativity.

So, we rush to find the best teachers, find the most intelligent, dedicated, eloquent companions to help us understand proper usage. Sure, we make mistakes all the time, but there are no shortcuts in life. Can you imagine a world in which mistakes were officially forbidden? Or a world in which a vast infrastructure existed to excise all traces of the split infinitives, because someone, in his infinite wisdom, had decided to shield the rest of us mere mortals from the affects of ambiguities of life?

The result as you might suspect is a depressing, bizarre world where nothing is what it appears to be. The land of the cynics who believe in nothing, care for nothing and respect nothing. Perhaps that ever-present deity, Mammon, should be excepted of course. This is no longer about ideology. It is about power and privilege pure and simple.

There are those here who have it and are scared to let go. And then there are those who are excluded and want it. For now, those in power would have a lot more to lose by letting go than what those outsiders have to gain by violently contesting the formers hegemony. Hence the stalemate. So the game goes on and we are all expected to play our parts.

The key to stability in this country lies--I kid you not-- in two simple reforms. Above and foremost, a restructuring of the banking system that would allow our citizens access to credit cards with unlimited funds. And second, a relaxation of what is left of social rules in a manner that would facilitate open fraternization between the sexes without fear, and a re-opening of bars, cabarets and discothèques. Anyone who can bring these two about will have the majority’s begrudging acceptance for a long time to come.

There is always hope though. Hope that we will once again discover our moral compass. We Iranians have a tendency to surprise ourselves and others. I thank my cantankerous instructor from years ago everyday for having had us memorize a simple phrase: “NŌlī timōrī cēdere.” Because at the end of the day, “Vita mihi sine spē est mors.”
As for tomorrow, who was it that made the simple observation that “every negation” is ultimately “an affirmation?”

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