Murari Sharma: Solace for the lazy

I might not have been expelled from school if the Florida Gulf Coast University had its research on laziness and intelligence out when I was a student.

I was expelled from my school once for being lazy and sleeping for too long. It first happened in Haridwar, India. I was admitted into a good Sanskrit school where education, food and accommodation were free. I was lazy: I used to go to bed early and get out too late. The school management warned me twice, and when I failed to change my habit, it chucked me out like a fly from the milk.

Another time, I survived an expulsion by a whisker. After the first exit, I had obtained admission in another school in Rishikesh, India. Once again, the school management objected to my habit and almost threw me out. A teacher, a Sanyasi, who knew I was not too bad in studies, came to my rescue and saved me from a second disgrace.

I wish I then had the findings of the FGCU to defend my laziness and protect my fragile honor.

A team of the FGCU, led by Todd McElroy, monitored 30 thinkers and 30 non-thinkers for a week and found that the thinkers were less active than the non-thinkers. The findings were published in the Journal of Health Psychology as highly significant and robust.

The findings arrived too late for me. But for others like me, they may prove god-sent.

I know, many people work hard in Nepal. They work their heart out to eke out a living and still find themselves mired in poverty and destitution by the accident of their birth. I am not talking about them.

But there is no shortage of lazy people, either. Have you seen able-bodied men who spend their valuable time lazily lounging around in the local market or engaging in empty political talks in restaurants and under the banyan trees of their areas, while their women sweat themselves to death to provide a decent life for the family?

Politicians are the worst sort of parasite of our society. In other countries, politicians tend to have other means of livelihood: a business, a career, a part-time career, a farm big enough to sustain them, or inherited property enough to support them. They come from their respective backgrounds, serve people as politicians and go back to their own business or career from which they had come in the first place.

In Nepal, politics, and the opportunity for corruption that comes with it, is the ultimate profession or career and a source of abiding and massive wealth.  The FGCU findings must have warmed the hearts of politicians, providing they read the related news at all. I have used this proviso because our leaders in general tend to be the least educated and least enlightened among their counterparts from around the world.

Do not get me wrong. I have no intention to pillory all politicians. I know there are several Ph.D. holders in the legislature. Many have Master’s and lesser degrees. We have learned about politicians who went to take the SLC exam after they became members of the legislature, who studied in jail and acquired degrees, or who studied at home and acquired enough knowledge to challenge the professionals intellectually. I am not talking about them.

Many other politicians, though without any formal qualification and opportunity for it for one reason or another, have an unquenchable hunger for education and knowledge. I am not talking about them, either.

I am talking about the bulk of politicians that has an aversion to anything that has to do anything with reading, writing or thinking constructively.  I am talking about those politicians — the members of the Constituent Assembly cum parliament, who decide the destiny of our country and its citizens — who fought hard to exclude any academic qualification whatsoever in the new Constitution to become a member of parliament, whereas those who want to become a driver or peon need a high school education.

There is no shortage of such politicians. In my professional life, I have seen a prime minister who never read any newspaper, magazine or book, even though he could read. I have also seen several ministers who could not read or write other than their own names. Interestingly, however, the premier and ministers used to carry tons of newspapers and magazines home every day, perhaps to hide his aversion to reading or inability to read and write, as relevant.

When the US presidential candidate claimed that he knows more about the ISIS than the military commanders fighting that terrorist organization, the world laughs. Our ministers all the time claim to have more expertise than professional experts themselves, but nobody laughs.

In a democratic system, you respect the people’s mandate the elected representatives bring  and recognize their duty to express their political priorities. But occasionally, I have had ministers lecture me beyond their brief and their competence on specific professional issues, even though they did not know what they were talking about and whether what they said made any sense.

Fortunately, I had no major problem with any minister under whom I served. But some of my colleagues were not as lucky as me. They suffered under too smart and too naive ministers with wrong intentions. But things went down the hill gradually.

A friend of mine who replaced me after a few of my colleagues tells me that we were lucky. He says when I was at the head of a ministry, democratic politics posited some respectability and hope; there was still some discipline left in the political leaders and bureaucratic officials. However, after a bunch of murderers has become integral to the ruling class in Nepal, he says, there is an intense  aversion towards civility, education, qualification, discipline.

In other words, to anything that a society and system needs for the progress of the country. It reminds me of Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s speech on 1 May 2010 from the open air theater in Kathmandu, calling publicly on the “uneducated and rustic” to punish the “educated and civilized” when they can. Now he heads the government.

The FGCU findings will help our political leaders to justify their scheming — oh, thinking — for power and staying away from sullying their hands and dirtying their boots.


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