Adventures in Aipotu: Episode 8, Part 1
The Cliff of Truth
As Damini sat on the floor of the lake, various scenes went through her mind's eye - scenes she had been part of here, in Aipotu. She remembered the bowl, and meeting God, and she remembered him asking what she wanted to make Earth a better place to live in. She remembered the war and she remembered God saying that the wheel turns and the oppressors become the oppressed. But most of all she remembered the bowl of perspectives and the fact that different people saw things differently. She felt that all these experiences were meant to tell her something, were designed to lead her somewhere - but she was not sure where.
Aris came and lay down next to her. It was comforting to have him next to her as she sat there, lost in her thoughts. Eventually Aris said, "Lets go Damini. There is more to see, yet." For the first time in Aipotu, Damini seemed lethargic. For the first time, she was not sure that she wanted to be in the next adventure, see the next interesting site. Aris now was less crabby and more understanding of Damini's feelings.
"Damini", Aris continued, "do you remember what Ollie told you when you began exploring Aipotu?" Damini looked up at Aris. "Ollie told you that Aipotu reflects the questions you have. It is amazing that a girl, as young as you, has come looking for answers to some of the most profound questions. Serious questions have serious answers. And some are answers that you do not enjoy hearing. But they must be told as they are. Yet, there are other questions that you have to ask. So come, lets find those questions."
Damini looked at the wise turtle. He was right. She pulled herself up. The turtle and the girl swam up to the surface of the lake. Damini scrambled up on Aris's back and the turtle began to swim.
"Often", the turtle said, "we are so impatient for results that we turn despondent in the slightest turn of events. We forget that humanity is about life times. How many lifetimes it took for the women in your societies to begun to be respected as equals? How many lifetimes before the slaves were emancipated? And through those lifetimes, those who believed in equality kept on. They were targeted, ridiculed, even physically abused. But they kept on. That stamina is important. Keeping that process alive is important."
The turtle paused. A slight breeze had picked up and it blew across the direction that Aris swam. Small waves lapped with a regular frequency against Damini's legs. Despite her depression, Damini could not help noticing that the day was rather pleasant.
"Yet, in our belief that the ideals we strive for are noble - noble beyond every thing else - and in our desire to see the change happen quickly, we are often willing to silence those who oppose us or oppress those who we perceive as antagonists. Are we then not guilty of the very ignoble ideas that we set out to right? The communists set out to end oppression in Russia after the revolution. To get to their utopia of equality, they committed untold violence. Thousands opposing their methods were put in harsh prisons. All groups opposing their ideals were banned. Equality can only be based on freedom. The very equality they set out to achieve was bound in shackles and thrown into prisons. No means to achieve justice can itself be unjust."
"Who has seen tomorrow? Who can plan for a perfect future based on an oppressive present? Every group that has tried it has failed. We can only work towards an ideal present. An ideal future will have to evolve from such an effort."
"How can an oppressed people understand the mechanisms of a free society?", Damini mused. "How can people who are marginalized understand how equality works? How can a people who have never been given responsibility understand what it means to be responsible? How can people who have never lived in an ideal utopia understand such a utopia? Never! It is foolish to even envisage such a turn of events. And its foolish of visionaries to envisage that we will reach such a state of equality through oppression." Damini was now speaking with a quiet maturity of someone who understood. There was no anger, no vengeance, no more sorrow.
"Only by working through the mechanisms of a free society will people learn what freedom means, the rights and responsibilities of free society. Only by living through ideas of equality will people understand the mechanisms of equality. You are right Aris; it is foolish to envisage that one can achieve any kind of utopia through oppression. It is only through generations of living with ideals of equality and freedom that our societies will be truly free and attain equality and justice. Any attempts to use shortcuts will only undermine such an effort. No goal justifies use of oppression - however noble that goal. In fact the use of violence only undermines that noble goal. However grave the opposition, there is only path for those who believe in ideals of equality and justice. That is to fight for equality and justice - even for those that oppose them."