Monday, September 27, 2010

A fortiori ad victoriam

For anyone who has been or is currently engaged in the pursuit of that heavily-loaded term, ‘sport’ - in the competitive, emotionally-charged and passionate sense of the term --when applied to a contest against evenly matched opponents - the feeling of that adrenalin rush which characterizes the final burst towards the finishing line/the goalpost/ the basket/ the match point in a racquet game; that results in a final victory or a sweet culmination of a well-played sweaty interlude in one’s chosen competitive arena… is a memory that is verily de rigueur. It speaks to many glorified impulses in basic human nature: those that seek to outdo one’s fellow man in a contest of skill, physicality and tactics, all other things remaining the same… and there are very few base emotions of self-satisfaction in the human condition that can match the one that immediately follows a victory over another in a sporting arena.

To ponder the last-dash preparations over the Common Wealth Games in Delhi, the shadow of the forthcoming verdict on the Ayodhya title suit, the benighted state of the latest rounds of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations or even the impending mid-term elections in the U.S., a sportsperson is tempted to recall that last push. It is the hardest thing in competitive sport to close out a game that has been hitherto going in one’s favour right until the closing minutes, and the history of sport is replete with instances of teams and individuals on the threshold of almost certain victory losing games in the dying moments. The victors in these instances always steeled themselves against the hint of a contemplation that they might lose, doggedly carrying on the challenge, and most times even raising the standard of their game(s) when it mattered most.

Why cannot those of us with a stake in how the world conducts its affairs look at situations in public life with a similar spirit? It would certainly be calamitous if large-scale violence broke out across the country over the Ayodhya verdict, or if the Israelis continued their universally condemned apartheid-esque policies against the Palestinians, or if crack-pot Tea Party insurgents rode an anti-incumbency wave to sweep into power in the U.S. mid-term elections… but to navigate these possibilities with the understanding that they are but the last brush of a dying wave that is about to capitulate to a rising tide of glory, and to feel that sense of exhilaration when one is so close to one’s goals… is verily better than the sad scepticism and advancing cynicism we currently feel on being exposed to everything the mainstream media throws at us through these dark days.

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