Two persons have dominated the news in the past week. And both of them have made me think a bit (which I must admit, is an activity that I do not indulge in very successfully).
The first guy won a contest that is held every four years in a country which, at least in principle, aims to elect the person most qualified for the job. The second guy announced his retirement from a game in a country, which at least in principle, aims to select the person most qualified for the job. Both events have been called ‘historic’.
The first guy came from obscurity and is now all set to resume his role of leading his country (and by default, the globe?) to a promised better future from the current crisis, and is now expected to hog the public consciousness while doing so. The second guy had already led his team (and by default, his country?) from a crisis to many a success, and is now all set to step away from public consciousness (with nothing but memories of dedicated fans to keep him from oblivion). Both are destined to be remembered for long.
The first guy was criticized for being too young for the job, and suspected of not having the requisite experience to deal with issues. A call for change won him the job. The second guy was criticized for being too old for the job, and all his experience of dealing with issues were discounted in favour of fresh talent. A call for change lost him his job. Both however proved that age has nothing to do with the job on hand.
The first guy is hailed as a ‘messiah’ and most people have already decided (before he starts) that he cannot fail. We can only hope he proves people right. The second guy was called a ‘pariah’, and most people had already decided (before he started) that he cannot succeed. We saw that he proved people wrong. Both prove that what people say should not matter.
Many supporters of the first guy have no clue about why they are supporting him, and seem to be doing it because it is the ‘in’ thing to do. Many critics of the second guy have no clue about why they are opposing him, and seem to be doing it because it is the ‘in’ thing to do. Both prove that there are few people who speak because they have something to say, while the majority speak because they have to say something.
Some of the support for the first guy can be explained from the fact that the alternative was deemed to be too bad, from what people had seen for the last eight years. Some of the criticism for the second guy can be explained from the fact that the alternative was deemed to be too good, from what people hoped to see in the next eight years. Both prove that, fortunately or unfortunately, you are not judged on your merit alone.
The first guy never used his racial identity as a reason for electing him, instead choosing to concentrate on what he thought was best for his country. And yet, his win is proclaimed as historic (already! since he is yet to start on the job) purely because of his race. I wonder whether Jesse Owens would have been called great before he won his four golds, for merely becoming eligible to participate in the Berlin Olympics. While the race has definitely suffered discrimination in the past, the guy personally has not.
The second guy never used his regional identity for selecting his team-mates, instead choosing to concentrate on what he thought was best for his country. And yet, his (forced?) retirement, after all he has accomplished, is proclaimed as another example of injustice to the region. I wonder whether 11363 ODI runs, 7127 Test runs, and numerous Test wins overseas are still not enough to call him great. While the guy has definitely suffered discrimination in the past, the region has not.
Both proved that while discrimination is a reality, a sense of victimization is not the solution. A fact that is unfortunately lost on some of their supporters.
Barack Hussein Obama and Saurav Chandidas Ganguly – two dissimilar people who seem to have a lot in common.