Chutzpah and Catch 22

By Samhita Barooah


samhita_pixLife is getting more and more complex. Every situation is a catch 22 scenario. It seems one is dwindling between the boiling pot to the frying pan and in both conditions temperature is rising. We have so many choices these days. Sometimes it is very hard to choose. If we choose to be just, we have to compromise on resources. If we opt for tradition we are outdated and if we go left, we end up looking at the right side of the world. It’s a truly dead end situation where both ways things are of no value. Daring an act and doing it is indeed a very challenging act. All those who have shown the chutzpah to change the tables have to be turned into blasphemous.


It’s a battle of development and denial where denial is packaged into the pretext of development and positioned in such a way that there is no headway in any other direction. One is either compelled to be part of the status quo or conform to the given order of things or adapt with the existing realities. Every effort towards change comes with catch 22 situations where there is no elbow space to think on one’s own. Innovation is in yet we want the world to support followers and reject any novelty without adequate recommendation. In the post modern world, ideas and processes are more crucial and the experience of working towards some intervention is of great relevance while outcomes become redundant. But the most critical areas of human existence are dependent on positivist approaches and its corollary superstructures which are dependent on pre-determined equations of scientific knowledge.


In real life instances, this scenario is best captured in the perplexed dilemma of Shakespeare’s words in his play Hamlet, ‘To be or not to be’. This confusion of the complex human nature has led to elevation of the human spirit and also revealed the most excruciating vulnerabilities of people. People living in the edges are mostly thrown open into the deep gorges of uncertainties. Sometimes the lure of a better future sweeps the land off the feet of marginal communities living in complete harmony with natural elements. Many people were promised a better future in lieu of fertile lands, forests, water bodies and other ecological resources. Sometimes people are robbed off their inherent livelihood skills of basketry, local material architecture, fishing, weaving, hand printing, craft works, pottery, land based activities and even cooking in process of creating homogenous spaces for mass production based on polluting industries.


Then there are moments where people displaced from their roots and transplanted to become weapons of an over protected, restricted, autocratic, unequal and exploitative regime for which human indignity is another political, cultural and socio-economic agenda to build strategies of power and control. Catch 22 situations haunts people in different situations of life, whether it’s a working condition or it’s a personal relationship in the current times of multiple realities. Yet, there are many trailblazers who have shown resilience and personify the chutzpah effect when thrown open into the raw ordeals of human life.


There are many human rights defenders, writers, artists, musicians, peace activists and grassroots workers who have stood against the wall in the process of enabling those suffering in silence and also seeking for some liberated space where there can be free thinking. In recent years, Ang San Sui Kyi from Myanmar, Nelson Mandela from South Africa, Irom Sharmila from Manipur, Ai Wien from China, Naga Mothers Association from Nagaland, Sunila Abesekara from Sri Lanka, Kamala Bhasin from India, Tongam Riba from Arunachal Pradesh, Indira Goswami from Assam, Wangari Mathai from Kenya, Asma Jehangir from Pakistan, Toni Morrison from Africa, Taslima Nasreen from Bangladesh, Noam Chomsky from USA, Citizens of Tahrir Square in Egypt, Humanitarian Aid workers in Afghanistan, Dalai Lama of Tibet, Hugo Chavez from South America have indeed faced catch 22 situations in their lifetimes yet, they dared to reveal their chutzpah traits to challenge the confinements of human and natural repression. Most of the above mentioned people have not yet reached their goals but they are still fighting the concrete moulds of controlling agents. Their battles become the struggles of humanity where the entire world witnesses the alternatives to monolithic structures defining the rule of law and order.


Another revelation is that the chutzpah trait can be felt through the community consciousness. From Tahrir Square to the streets of Delhi, from Bengaluru schools to Kashmir human spirit is shaken up by the heinous atrocities meted out to innocents.


Every time repression and power politics of people have led to changes. Sometime personal struggles of survival and freedom from atrocities lead to macro-level social and political transformations while socio-cultural and political struggles lead to personal decisions which create dynamism in human endeavor.


We are all stuck in catch 22 battles of life where we just need to search for our chutzpah element inherently embedded within us and face every situation to our advantage. Defending human rights indeed requires such chutzpah spirit to emancipate us from every catch 22 twist in our lives.

Samhita Barooah

Samhita Barooah

Dr. Samhita Barooah
 is Educator and QueerUp Founder