August 25, 2007

Pity the Nation

Having seen and heard some of the most pretentious, pompous asses I know read and quote Kahlil Gibran, I developed a distaste for his works, made worse by the fact that his writing was supremely outsized for reality.

But then we come across these moments when the situation in our motherland is similarly outsized. What Marquez said of Latin America is equally applicable for us: "our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable".

I give you a Gibran excerpt. At times like this, poetry is the best analysis.

"Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.

Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave, eats a bread it does not harvest, and drinks a wine that flows not from its own wine-press.

Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero, and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.

Pity the nation that despises a passion in its dream, yet submits in its awakening.

Pity the nation that raises not its voice save when it walks in a funeral, boasts not except among its ruins, and will rebel not save when its neck is laid between the sword and the block.

Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox, whose philosopher is a juggler, and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking.

Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trupetings, and farewells him with hootings, only to welcome another with trumpetings again.

Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years and whose strong men are yet in the cradle.

Pity the nation divided into fragments, each fragment deeming itself a nation."

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