Passing notions

Monday Musing

[ Asok Pillai ]

The curious case of Quinton de Kock

When South Africa’s wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock refused to ‘take the knee’ prior to his team’s Pool 1 match against West Indies in this year’s T20I World Cup, the first thought that occurred to me was ‘Racist’. Commentators Pommie Mbangwa and Daren Sammy implied as much when the news of de Kock’s withdrawal from the match “for personal reasons” reached the commentary box, and harshly criticized de Kock live on air on TV.

Not all but a small percentage of people who follow such developments in cricket must know by now that the whole thing had been a terrible misunderstanding – that de Kock, in fact, had the moral right to stand his ground.

Sportspersons ‘take the knee’, which I’m sure almost every sports fan knows involves kneeling upon one knee in a symbolic gesture against racism for the world to see and support.

However, as de Kock explained it while apologizing and agreeing to ‘take the knee’ for the remainder of the tournament: “I didn’t understand why I had to prove it with a gesture, when I live and learn and love people from all walks of life every day.”

De Kock himself comes from a mixed race family, as it turns out; therefore the argument against him is tenuous, and it would be reasonable to deduce that he cannot be a racist. An individualist, perhaps, but not a racist.

It’s okay to be an individualist if your intentions are conscionable. It’s okay to follow your heart if your heart is in the right place. It’s okay to avoid trappings.

Living proof

Opinions are a dime a dozen, but that one about climate change hit home, didn’t it? The month of October was proof of the pudding, so to speak. It felt as if summer would never end this year, and who knows how long – or short – winter will be? It seems all downhill from here on, as far as global warming/climate change is concerned. Humans, and because of them all other species, are on the highway to hell, and our bus does not have brakes.

No card-carrying journalist, including myself, will say that they are not in support of this… swell of environmental activism we’re witnessing across the country (and that includes Arunachal). And no journalist can say that they don’t contribute their share to global warming, either. I doubt if environmental activists themselves – except perhaps Milind Soman – can resort to running or bicycling between home and office and other engagements around the country on a regular basis. Every time we use vehicles propelled by fossil fuel, we pollute the environment. It’s a paradox, really, and we can’t help it if we wanted to. It’s not easy to point a finger at anyone. That’s just the way we roll.


Given a choice between following the herd and walking away from them, what would you pick? Most of us do the things that others do because we assume that, since everyone else is doing it, it must be the right thing to do. But is it? Have you considered the possibility that your thinking process can be shaped by the stuff you see and read on social media? If you are susceptible to manipulation, maybe you should seriously consider quitting social media.

There is a price to pay, of course. I know because I’ve been through it. Anger, anxiety, agitation, intense feelings of boredom, increased urges to use social media – these are the classic withdrawal symptoms of quitting the online crowd. But they outweigh what you stand to lose: inadequacy about your life and appearance, fear of missing out, depression and anxiety, and so on. What would you have: a mind shaped by your peers or a mind of your own?

Life without social media can be good: no obligations, no conflicting emotions, no popularity contests, no one-upmanship, no need to impress, no narrowing of perception, no need of endorsement with ‘likes’ and comments… You may not know what the world is up to constantly, but you’ll sleep like a baby precisely because of it. Ignorance, in this case, is bliss.