Of Mr Rules and Mrs De­fi­ance

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP - BY BHAVANI KR­ISHNA IYER

THEY say the best things in life come free. Can free­dom be one of them? Of late we have been slammed with rep­ri­mands time and again from the long arms of the law when ne­ti­zens stretch and bend free­dom for their per­sonal grat­i­fi­ca­tion.

With too many no-go ar­eas, can we now agree that even the ba­sic free­dom of ex­pres­sion comes not with­out a cost?

I get dis­or­dered in my mind and it has turned into fear of the un­known and I have since down­graded my­self to be­ing just an oc­ca­sional blog­ger and a by- stander. Read all evils but do not post or for­ward evils.

Free­dom is a bot­tom­less pit and the end is not seen but only imag­ined; the bet­ter your imag­i­na­tion, the bet­ter you en­joy this com­mod­ity. So is free­dom real then?

Free­dom has its lim­i­ta­tions, both nat­u­ral and man-made, sounds para­dox­i­cal? That is what I too thought, at least we are on the same page.

Com­ing to per­sonal free­dom, do we re­alise how much of our net worth as a per­son is com­pro­mised in the name of dos and don’ts that come dressed up as rules and reg­u­la­tions, at work place for ex­am­ple.

In ad­di­tion to th­ese we also have in­nu­mer­able codes of con­duct that every­body talks about but no­body is able to clearly de­fine.

In the mean­time, the le­gal fra­ter­nity is get­ting busy deal­ing with so­cial me­dia of­fend­ers post­ing re­marks on mat­ters which are not even of grave im­por­tance to their ex­is­tence.

Be­ing care­less and care­free should not be taken out of con­text to mean ab­so­lute free­dom; ab­so­lute­ness and free­dom are two in­con­gru­ous con­cepts and never to be mar­ried.

Free­dom is a mul­ti­fac­eted and a many-splen­doured con­cep­tion; also re­ferred to as lib­er­a­tion, in­de­pen­dence and a host of other close cousins that come with caveats.

A friend who is lucky to have a plum job com­plains that her free­dom as a per­son is at stake. Her work­place dic­tates just about ev­ery­thing for her, from what time she has to hop out of bed, to what she wears to work and how she should con­duct her­self.

This, she con­sid­ers a se­vere en­croach­ment into her pri­vacy as a per­son. I was all ears but I thought she was over­re­act­ing.

I know of a friend who has dis­carded her stilet­tos for flats so that she could marathon her way to swipe in by 8am or she is damned. She is also mon­i­tored on how many times she leaves the of­fice for pees and poos and what­ever else. The toi­let hap­pens to be out­side and she has to swipe in an out to an­swer the call.

And then there is the most abused term called dress­code. In the of­fice, at cor­po­rate din­ners etc, the for­mal­ity ends at the word “for­mal” adorn­ing the in­vi­ta­tion, ev­ery­thing else is left to in­ter­pre­ta­tion.

I, for one, get pro­voked by bad at­ti­tudes more than clothes and I think we should have peo­ple wear the right at­ti­tude at the right places.

Another friend of mine thinks switch­ing jobs is fash­ion­able and she lives in that in­flated pride and ego that she is in de­mand.

She was telling me about how she had to sub­ject her en­tire wardrobe for an over­haul in line with a memo from her new of­fice. No more pants, no short (even knee length) skirts.

“I hated my­self for the three years I was there as I ap­peared in work dressed in what might as well have been a pil­low case with holes punched,” she said an­grily.

Can we have mod­er­a­tion em­ployed in our daily lives so that we can live and not merely ex­ist painstak­ingly ful­fill­ing the scores of re­quire­ments, rules, reg­u­la­tion, etc. And have you heard of this group of nano-sapi­ens who call them­selves the free­thinkers? They re­ject re­li­gious dog­mas and I used to won­der how do you re­ject some­thing you don’t know enough about?

Wil­liam Shake­speare in his cre­ations demon­strated that free­dom was im­por­tant for us to live richer and more ex­pres­sive lives, as in­di­vid­u­als as well as a so­ci­ety. His char­ac­ters Ham­let and Juliet, Mac­beth and Cleopa­tra, Fal­staff and Ros­alind and a host of other me­morable cre­ations of Shake­speare demon­strated that the free­dom to be them­selves, away from fal­sity and dic­tated ex­is­tence re­sulted in a more ful­fill­ing life.

In As You Like It Ros­alind de­cides that she will break the shackle of be­ing a good girl and an obe­di­ent daugh­ter for th­ese type­cast de­prived her the free­dom to be her­self. In ban­ish­ment she sees the op­por­tu­nity to see a whole new self.

We shall talk about Ros­alind on another oc­ca­sion.

There is a say­ing that man is free at the mo­ment he wishes to be. Re­ally?

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