Co-Written by Rachel Olivia O’Connor and Richard Martin Oxman
Special note: India’s Arundhati Roy will have her second novel published this year.
In The God of Small Things, a highly complex and imaginative first work of fiction that we strongly recommend, many questions are raised, the most important for activists, arguably, being…
Up until what point can we trust others, or even ourselves?
This is germane for concerned citizens attempting to work together in solidarity, for — as we all know — it is very easy to put our own interests and convenience over loyalty.
The Collective Good, then, cannot be placed exclusively in the hands of career politicians, who — by definition — are too self-serving. Self-centered activists too, though, must be questioned on this score. For history is festooned with failures which were a function of betrayal.
There is not nearly sufficient acknowledgement on this count in the activist realm. People mobilize and march, meet and conduct lengthy exchanges on the run, never taking the time to really secure a solid commitment from one another. Routinely. Assuming way too much on the basis of, say, signatures agreeing on the thrust of a petition. Such mutual approval is not any guarantee of alignment.
And so the two of us highly recommend what Arundhati Roy — author of that 1997 Booker Prize for her debut novel, The God of Small Things — suggests is absolutely necessary. That is, that we find some new way of bonding as concerned citizens, so that our movement in solidarity isn’t undermined down the road quite as easily as it has been throughout the very long history of resistance in this troubled world. A huge, monumental undertaking, admittedly, this big bedeviling challenge.
We’re not sure how to go about this for everyone. This Big Thing. And yet… the problem must be acknowledged, and acted upon very seriously before having one’s head bashed in at the barricades alongside someone who turned the authorities on to you for self-advantage, and — consequently, courtesy of double-dealing — escapes unscathed in the confrontation. Or before any one of a thousand and one other examples of disloyalty dynamics.
To try to address this issue, in the midst of others insisting that everyone get on their treadmill of doing something together post haste, would be a very good use of heartbeats. Necessary, we’d say.
You might say that in this godforsaken world such a focus would make you a God of Big Things.
Rachel Olivia O’Connor is a freelance journalist. She can be reached at email@example.com. Richard Martin Oxman has been an educator and activist for over half-a-century. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org