The Bible speaks of “Setting thine house in order” (Isaiah 38:1), which literally translates to “setting your house in order”. Of course, for the purposes of this article, we are deliberately focusing our attention on the literal meaning of the words themselves, while choosing to ignore the metaphorical translation contained within the Bible (which is “to prepare one’s will”). This is because the popular English idiom – To put one’s own house in order – actually owes its colloquial development to the aforementioned biblical origin (not surprising since several English phrases and idioms actually owe their origin to the King James Bible). Of course, the “expression” — putting your house in order — has taken particular prominence in this entire debate surrounding “freedom of expression” (pardon the pun)!
In case you’re wondering “how” and “why”, let me explain! Suppose your house was in disorder and disarray, what would you do? Clean it…Or…Destroy it? Actually, don’t even bother answering the question; it’s purely rhetorical! After all, the people aren’t really out on the streets, setting fire to their own homes. And yet, somehow some of these very people have become the literal embodiment of the “The Woodcutter of Gura” – a popular Eritrean tale that speaks of a foolish woodcutter, who was foolishly sawing off the very branch that he was sitting upon [Note: We actually have a similar version of the story too, told through the legend of the tree-cutting Kalidasa].
Image source GIA (Group in Intellectuals and Academicians)
It is ironical that the very people, who have been entrusted with the nation’s future are now working relentlessly to destroy the very country they live in. It’s counter-intuitive really…and yet, sadly, that has become the case — treason in the name of dissent. Maybe, times have changed! Maybe, foolishness IS fashionable! Unfortunately, unlike Kalidasa, these youth have no sage to warn them against their tomfoolery as they set about chopping their own futures. In fact, instead of the sage, these youth have become the unwitting weapon of the evil politicians and their evil plots.
What these youth seem to have forgotten (in their misguided hue-and-cry about “freedom of expression”) is that there is no country in this world that does not battle its own set of personal problems. In fact, in a world that’s forever changing…THAT is the only universal constant! Unfortunately, instead of putting their own house (aka country) in order, they partake in the partisan politician’s ploy and their Machiavellian machinations. Ergo, instead of becoming the solution, they become part of the problem!
If you go back in history, there are examples galore of how internal threats like “anti-national” activities are more dangerous than any existential external threat. In fact, the great Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero once said (many many centuries ago): “A nation can survive its fools and even the ambitious but it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly but a traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. A murderer is less to fear, the traitor is the plague.”
Remember Vibhishana — Ravana’s traitorous brother? The man who gave us the popular Hindi expression: घर का भेदी लंका ढाए [“GHAR KA BHEDI LANKA DHAYE”]… and that — ladies and gentlemen — is the revival of that idiomatic expression in this great “freedom of expression” debacle!