Outsiders and Insiders

27 Dec

A Parable for Today

Once, many years ago, some adventurers (somewhere in the distant islands in the Pacific Ocean) got into a boat and sailed across the deep seas. After many days they sighted a small island and decided to explore what they could find. The place apparently was virgin land with plenty of fruits and other edible vegetation, and they thought they might possibly discover some hidden wealth as well. At first it seemed like paradise to them. The adventurers soon built little homes for themselves quite like cottages even though they couldn’t manage more than thatch or bamboo. They seemed pleased to begin a new life there.

A few years later, some other people, who had sailed along those parts earlier, now noticed that the island looked prosperous. They decided to stop over and check out what the island was like. They were like tourists, very much like cruising groups exploring the world in retirement. At that point in time there were no rules in place like ‘immigration’ restrictions and so these new ‘hoppers’ too decided to pitch their tents and enjoy the benefits of the island. It was not long before news of the paradise island spread across the other islands and the lands around. It wasn’t long before the first settlers on the island felt that these newcomers and others, who started pouring into the island, began to swell the numbers. It was possibly the start of one of modern days’ bugbears: uncontrolled immigration.

The earliest settlers had by now become quite established. They had systematically created farming areas and residential areas. They soon found markets for their produce and had begun trading. It wasn’t long before they began to feel like a ‘corporate’ body and became quite possessive and protective of the wealth they had created and the society they had nurtured. They had also become quite powerful in terms of setting up their own security systems, even creating a police force armed with appropriate weapons to protect their ‘community’ or to fight off intruders, or ‘outsiders’ as they began to call them.

They put up a fence around the most fertile areas so as to keep off the other later arrivals. They also put up signposts which read, ‘No Entry. Private Property. Trespassers will be prosecuted.’ The system seemed to work because the people inside the fence became more prosperous with luxury goods, quality food and a comfortable lifestyle. Soon all their area got fenced off and those outside the fence had no choice but to live with the limited availability of food and other necessities outside the protected area. It wasn’t long before those on the outside began to feel the effects of these restrictions. It was reported by other casual tourists that some people had even died of starvation because of these limits imposed on them.

It is not clear whether the ‘insiders’ wanted to patronize them or whether the ‘outsiders’ pleaded, but some sort of ‘social’ pressure exerted got the ‘insiders’ to agree to give the ‘outsiders’ food provided they offered to work for them. Whatever may have been the case it soon became clear that the two distinct ‘groups’ became the established ‘social divisions’ on the island. Perhaps this evolved set-up eventually panned out to become the ‘class’ system we now have in some what are called ‘developed’ nations, or perhaps the ‘caste’ system that exists in some other countries.

The ‘outsiders’ originally got food for their services. Eventually the remuneration became low payments in gold or silver or the accepted currency of the islands around, which was probably ‘dinars’, or ‘pesos’, for services rendered. But these were very low payments. If the work or task requested was not done or completed because the workers (‘the outsiders’) could not cope because of bad weather or sickness or other reasons, they did not get paid. Poverty grew and resentment grew as well. The wiser and the stronger among the ‘outsiders’ began to get organized. This was perhaps the beginning of ‘trade unions’. Some of the smarter ones among them were able to use their periods of work in the ‘insider’ areas to find out more about how systems could be set up. Some of the more desperate among them began to steal knives, swords and guns. Some of these outsiders in fact made a few attempts to break through parts of the fence that were not too secure.

Soon the ‘insiders’, who had by now developed an ‘intellectual’ approach to living, realised that they would have to set up a ‘police force’ to protect their enclosure. Their only ‘catchment area’ and group to recruit from was evidently the ‘outsider’ group. They also soon realised that this police force in order to be effective had to be paid far better salaries than the ordinary workers (among the ‘outsiders’). This was a clever move that the ‘insiders’ believed would work in their favour. Quite naturally this created tensions within the ‘outsider’ group. Whatever may have been the disharmony in the ‘outsider’ camp, the ‘insiders’ had achieved a master stroke on their ladder of ‘social success’: they had not only established the beginnings of an ‘army’ and of a ‘protection force’, they had created disharmony in the lower ranks and so secured their position of power.

The ‘insiders’ soon found life had become comfortable, and decided there had to be a section of junior executives that needed to be created to establish and manage ‘leisure’. They soon figured out that a section of the ‘outsiders’, who had now become part of the society that moved around quite freely inside the ‘protected areas’ of the island were actually properly educated and seemed smart enough to ‘manage’ their affairs. So they went a step further and recruited more ‘professional outsiders’ to train up a new breed of ‘outsiders’ to become their ‘professional’ messengers and instructors. They would have to teach these special ‘outsiders’ in the ‘enclosure’ proper manners and behaviour so that the community of ‘insiders’ could lead a life of peace and security, of leisure and pleasure. This is not very unlike an ‘office’ class created by a colonial power in the Far East.

Gradually some of these fresh’ outsiders’ got more involved in the lifestyles of the ‘insiders’. Some of them set up small companies of their own and provided more professional services to the ‘insiders’: offering them facilities like massage parlours, beauty therapies, casinos, gyms and perhaps even ‘personal services’ which eventually became unofficial brothels and gradually got recognized as part of their leisure industry. These ‘outsider’ companies possibly became the earliest of the ‘outsourced’ groups providing a stable continuous lifeline to the ‘insiders’. Other ‘outsiders’ got more intimately involved and had ‘affairs’ with those they serviced in their parlours or brothels. Some ‘insiders’ even got to believe that having intimate relationships was above all limitations imposed, even if it meant marrying ‘outsiders’.

History has recorded that the powerful nations (mainly the colonial powers with armies and navies) all attempted some of these ‘stop-overs’ that eventually produced numerous offspring whenever their naval vessels docked off countries in the Far East, the Africas and the Americas. Whatever the eventual outcomes, the powerful nations used subtle definitions to justify their methods to provide labour and services for their own needs. The more refined establishments who constantly sought to define (and even re-define) their positions soon developed theories, one of which is possibly ‘multi-culturalism’ today! Eventually, even if not logically, one of the more robust of these practical extensions is how society today would evolve better if ‘inclusive education’ were introduced across the board, especially to groups that were It is difficult to fathom whether modern moves like these are genuine or merely temporary solutions to a problem that has deeper roots.

These two groups however remained distinct ‘classes’ on the same island, and as history goes, capitalist ideology, the ‘North-South divide, the haves and have-nots and the social classes were born! This was the beginning of the ‘developed’ (or wealthy) nations dominating over ‘developing’ (poorer) nations. This domination continues even today though there is a new awakening among people worldwide to enable developing nations to become self-reliant and developed. The United Nations in its Charter (Universal Declaration of Human Rights – 1948) has come out strongly with a recommendation that should become the statute for all nations today:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

(adapted by T.D’Souza: from Petals & Pebbles –by E.Dias & T.D’Souza: Create Space -2013 )

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