<%-- Page Title--%> Perspective <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 140 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

January 30, 2004

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Passing the Buck

The Name of the Game
Hasan Shaheed A Rahim

Your attention must have been drawn to the recent news reports on the death and injuries to the indigenous Garo people in the hands of police and forest guards in the Modhupur forest.

This ethnic group is fighting tooth and nail to stop the development of an eco-park in their ancestral home. The casualties occurred during one of their protests at the fencing of a large chunk of the forest area.

Yet, some of us may have overlooked the fact that an age-old sinister game of 'passing the buck' is being played deep in the forest.

The police have made the forest guards the scapegoat for the death of at least one Garo youth and injury to another and created a storm of controversy.

However, the nature of the death and injury amply suggests that a force equipped with a relatively overwhelming firepower, in the context of the conflict, could have caused such casualties.

What is most unacceptable is having to witness this process of someone being made a scapegoat right in front of me. Is it my strong doubts in the efficacy of the Jewish atonement ritual of 'passing the buck' on to a poor animal, or is it my sense of discomfort with the fact that someone should be allowed to bear the blame for others, I cannot tell.

Most people make others the scapegoat for the sake of their own survival but a few do resort to such practice to chill themselves out. Comedian Danny Kaye had to do so in the 1940s film, 'The Inspector General,' for the latter reason. He spanked his goat because he was slapped by the municipal guard who was himself smacked by his superior and that too, as a trickle down effect.

That is true to fiction, in reality at your workplace the practice is honed to an art form and applied with surgical precision. If it is where creativity and enterprise are all that matters and if anyone has taken a particular dislike to you, it is no one-time affair; rather you will be constantly robbed of your best achievements, and pushed to the brink of utter desperation. If you are among those who are used to taking things lying down and be inept at asserting himself, you shall soon have to call it quits.

Your case is unlike that of the others. The saying, 'what is good for the goose is good for the gander' does not apply to you. You are a non-entity ever ready to be goaded into action and perform you must, no matter what. If you say you are ill, you are feigning sickness; if you say you are feeling fine, you must be engaged in a plot. If you had ever complained of being pressed too hard perhaps, you did so not knowing that it was an out-and-out insubordination.

In effect, you are a mere plaything at the whims of your superior and so are the forest guards to the policemen.

Meanwhile, it is time for you to walk a tightrope. If you choose to stand firm you shall be mowed down, and if you give in to the onslaught you shall be dripped dry. It is up for grabs, take it, or leave it.

The crux of the matter is that regardless of your age, education and social standing you are more likely than not to be made the scapegoat by a fellow 'smarter' than you, if only you happen to be one rung below him, and not necessarily less gifted. Lesser mortals do, more often than not, rule the roost.

If the bully is known for what he is, and is at a cross with his superior, he shall take an animal satisfaction in snubbing and humiliating you in front of others, especially your juniors.

Perchance whoever matters at your workplace happens to be one of your family friends, a onetime acquaintance, or a former neighbour; you will be met with a vengeance hitherto unknown.

You are most likely to continue to serve him to the best of your abilities, foolishly accepting challenges on his behalf knowing fully well that he will take the laurel. In turn, you shall be continually bullied should you demand what you rightfully deserve.

If you cannot pass the buck to others you are a spent thing. You stand no chance in this rat race at your workplace. You are eligible to apply for membership of the losers' club and join the ranks of the likes of the forest guards!

But for now, a word of advice for the forest guards too, follow the sages' suit-- wait for better days and keep on hanging like a punching bag as long as you can.





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