Is our society ‘imprisoned by illusion’?

Witoubou Newmai


A society ‘imprisoned by illusion’ limits itself to knee-jerk response to things only whenever it is being pinched, while it continues to find charms in rhetoric. This is because, to such a society every story is an illusion, and therefore, it ignores the gravity of issues or realities confronting it as it lives only for today. This is why the culture of planning or long term policy-making finds its irrelevance in such a society.


There are also several detrimental factors which are dangerous to the society when it is ‘imprisoned by illusion’.


As illusion is often ‘sown by ignorance’, things are thrown to the great realms of danger. “An illusion that can be invoked for the purpose of dividing people into uniquely hardened categories can be exploited in support of fomenting intergroup strife,” according to Amartya Sen. According to Daniel Pearl of ‘Wall Street Journal’ as quoted by Amartya Sen in one of his books, violence in the world is ‘sown by ignorance and confusion’.


Is our society ‘imprisoned by illusion’? This has become a pertinent question today.


Our aversion to planning or long term policy-making while in the same time, steadfastly embracing the culture of knee-jerk response to situations is our today’s concern. Such a trend is reminiscent of a hobbling person intoxicated with alcohol responding to things by waving off hands aimlessly.


We have noticed, once again today in our society that, a couple of incidents had served as stimuli for the renewed uproar against ‘illegal immigrants’. Newspaper pages are now flooded with opinions, ultimatums and resolutions on the ‘illegal immigration’ issue.


One peculiar situation provided by this knee-jerk response is that, the perceived broad normal groups of people of morning are suddenly perceived as ‘illegal’ citizens in the evening just because of certain afternoon’s incidents. The point here is, let the status of ‘illegal’ citizens remain ‘illegal’ from the time they entered the region ‘illegally’, and let not their activities become sole stimuli to remind us of their nationalities or their status. In extension of explanation, let there be continuity in the ‘campaign’ with study-touch, while shunning rhetorical displays, against ‘illegal immigrants’ or ‘illegal immigration’ issue. Or else, only this knee-jerk response will continue to distort our position and situation.


It is time we start getting practical by formulating models to redress our comatose society. According to Samuel P Huntington, both explicit and implicit models are useful in many situations.


In ‘The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order’, Huntington writes, “We need explicit or implicit models so as to order and generalize about reality; understand causal relationships among phenomena; anticipate and… predict future developments; distinguish what is important from what is unimportant; and show us what paths we should take to achieve our goals….the more detailed a map is the more fully it will reflect reality”.


There is much our society can do for an effective ‘campaign’ with study-touch, and if we decide not to, the problem lies not elsewhere, but in our society itself.