Gracchus: I think he knows what Rome is. Rome is the mob. Conjure magic for them and they’ll be distracted. Take away their freedom and still they’ll roar. The beating heart of Rome is not the marble of the senate; it’s the sand of the coliseum. He’ll bring them death – and they will love him for it.
These lines caught my attention while watching the movie Gladiator. The depth of the phrase did seem to impress me but only for a while since I was sprawled on the couch and my brain was in a state of languor. Later that night, as I drifted off to sleep, the meaning of the phrase still lingered on. A few days after, while sprawled on the same couch and watching TV, a news headline caught my eye. A woman was stoned to death for taking part in a beauty pageant in Ukraine. Anyone in our society would impugn such kind of an act but strangely, it’s considered a well deserved punishment in others. But then, this feeling of superciliousness quickly vanished since talking about a difference of opinion, we don’t have to look that far and probe other societies as “Honor killings” are very much a part of our own society too.
Every now and then we read what seems to be a bizarre act to bring about justice. In an age of “Google it up”, the ugly reality and its extent is too much in our faces. A single attempt to search for “honor killings” in India gives thousands of hits. The same goes for a search such as “stoned to death”. In the times when we boast about technological achievements and talks about gender equality is almost a fashion, for some, such realities of the world seem to be too far-fetched while for others, it’s a part of who they are.
Homo sapiens have organized themselves by the formation of societies and hence, a civilization. Probably this civilization and society and the social norms and laws are the barriers between them and other organisms. It is due to this structure that after having means to quench our appetites and having arranged for shelters, we are able to progress and apply our brains in other aspects of life. But, where ever this hold of the society weakens, where the fear of punishment slackens, there are incidents to remind us that maybe centuries have passed and today’s society is a result of hundreds of years of civilization but, the basic instinct of the human still remains the same. It is dormant where there is a fear but it unmasks its true self where there is complete freedom.In freedom, we tend to do the exact same things which to fit in the society we fulminate.
The above phrase though trying to give a picture of ancient Rome is also suited for the current world. These two lines would gain quick relevance if the word “Rome” is replaced by the word “world”. World is indeed a mob. Destruction and annihilation is what the social structure stops us from achieving and these same things are what bring out the true nature of humans. The means of achieving them may differ but each act in a state of complete freedom and beyond the limits of the society lead to the same. Somehow or the other, to satisfy our insatiable inner thirst for negativity we search for different ways. Sometimes it’s through religion, sometimes through honour, at other times it’s a sense of superiority and at others, it is plain urge.
All the reasons which we created to bring about harmony are used for the contrary. After all the inventions, developments, all the norms and careful planning, we have failed to ignore our inner streak and like a pendulum which in spite of gaining momentum comes back to its original point of start, we too have completed one cycle and are slowly heading back to where we started from.