The Daily Panic

Colourless. Feckless.

There is a malaise in the country that I’ve been meaning to vent out about.

I must begin by saying there are plenty of people I strongly and vehemently disagree with, but nevertheless admire.To take an extreme example, I’ve often said that Osama bin Laden could have easily lived the rest of his life in filthy luxury. But he was passionate about a cause – as distasteful as it was – and went out of his way to stand up for his principles. I believe it was his principles – no matter how deeply flawed – that led him to go fight his war in barren mountains, and in a weird, twisted way, I find that admirable.

Despite all my criticism of Islamist politicians and salafists, I do believe that there are many among them who are genuinely led by a desire to do the right thing, even if I disagree wholeheartedly with their narrow, literalist definition of ‘the right thing’. I might be a left-leaning liberal, but I understand the motivations and passion that drives my counterparts on the right, and I fully respect them.

In other words, I sincerely respect people who make a stand for something.

This post is about the other kind of people. The people who stand for nothing. The people who are content with the status quo. The ones that refuse to hold an opinion on anything. The ones who don’t care. The irresponsible. The indifferent. The idiots.

The so called ‘Colourless’ that has emerged after the recent coup d’etat in the Maldives is a prime example. To avoid commenting on the tragic and violent loss of the country’s infant democracy, this group has chosen to hide behind terms like ‘peace’ and ‘non-violence’.

They won’t protest against any obvious injustice or brutality, because doing so would taint them with a colour. They won’t come out and say they are happy with the current state of affairs or the proxy dictatorship, because that, again, would attribute to them a colour.

By doing so, they might think they have broken new ground in achieving ‘neutrality’ and ‘peace’. To dissent, in their minds, is to cause strife. To protest, in their fancy world, is to disturb the peace. To make a stand, by their definition, is to provoke. To express an observation on plainly visible facts, to them, is to become a mindless slave of a party ideology – in other words, to reduce yourself to ‘a colour’.

There is no right or wrong in their world. Just colours. And these folk are above it all, and choose to be Colourless.

Well. Thankfully, I’m not, right? So I’m going to take the liberty to call them out on this moral cowardice.

Peace and non-violence are noble concepts. Indifference is not. Objectivity is a wonderful thing. But fairness does not equal to being blind to facts. You do not become “non-judgmental” by refusing to judge. You become non-judgmental by being fair in your judgment, and not being afraid to judge based on observable evidence.

When they talk about ‘non-violence’, the ultimate paragon of non-violence to me has always been Mahatma Gandhi. ‘Ahimsa’, or non violence, was a creed he lived by. But unlike our friends in ‘colourless’, his belief in peace didn’t translate into inaction, indifference or cowardly silence. He expressed dissent in the strongest terms.

The man led millions in non-violent resistance, and fought injustice and tyranny. He called for civil disobedience, and non-cooperation, and protests, and rallies and marches. His anger, his dissent ultimately overthrew a deeply rooted Empire.

Our noble ‘colourless’ friends might dismiss him as a mere rabble rouser who ‘disturbed the peace’, but today one-fifths of humanity live in an independent society because of Gandhi’s refusal to sit in silence and be ‘neutral’ about the whole oppression thing.Today, I’m afraid, the Mahatma and his movement would have been reduced to yet another colour by these “colourless” folks.

I consider “I am colourless. I chose not to take sides” a criminal statement to make given the crisis the country has fallen into. To watch in silence as tyranny takes place is neither noble, nor admirable.

Furthermore, it is plain ridiculous to assign a colour to every opinion. To say Anni did something wrong doesn’t make you blue or pink. To say the country’s democratically elected government was toppled amid violence doesn’t make you a yellow. It makes you fair. It proves you have a head on your shoulders that can think for itself.

So, please, dear colourless, do not wander in the delusion that your indifference is ‘peaceful’. At best, it is cowardly. At worst, future generations may look back and blame you for watching in smug silence, while the country’s first real chance at democracy got raped in broad daylight.


[First published: 3rd March 2012]

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