The Unreasonable, Uncommon Man

‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.’ So said someone accomplished.

I learnt this truth in my job a few years back when I used to analyse marketing campaign effectiveness for marketing managers. How much ever I tried to tell them that a campaign is not effective, all I used to hear was ‘where did you get the data’?

After a while, once my data sources were right, what I heard was, at best, ‘let me look into your analysis’, or at worst, ‘you don’t quite understand the market’.

Maybe part of it was true, but most of it was not.

What was definitely true was that the marketing managers’ jobs depended on the budgets they got for running campaigns. And ineffective campaigns generally meant reduced budgets.

common-manThe normal option I took was what a common employee takes: which is to be reasonable and well, try to reason it out.

But when someone’s salary depends on not understanding it, reasonableness is most likely taken as softness and brushed under the carpet.

Anything more direct is generally taken as unreasonable and faced with aggression.

So after a couple of attempts, I gave up, mostly because my salary also depended on my being reasonable! And stuck to the task of simply creating the analysis.  And they understood and agreed with my analysis only when it suited them.

So this peaceful, but more or less useless, arrangement continued for quite a while. I kept feeding them with useless analysis which they used, when it suited them, to tell their bosses how they had a good track on spending the company’s marketing money.

May be I should have resorted to the means adopted by the CM of Delhi.

But I was a reasonable man, and I was a common man. Someone who is told that decency and avoiding conflicts is preferable; who generally does not fight bigger bullies in positions of power, but lets them be and minds his own business. Often to his own detriment.

One might argue that that is still fine in an insignificant corporate setting which doesn’t affect more than a few people.

But what if a substantial part of the ecosystem that a country operates in is filled with people whose salaries (or incomes!) depend on their not understanding what is truly good for the reasonable, common man and the nation at large?

Across the board, whether it is police, municipal corporations, electricity boards, you name any government agency, and I would think, even some private companies and media too; more often than not, the truth is we currently have people whose incomes depend on not understanding what is the right thing to do, but something else.

And we have such people governed by people, whose incomes also depend on their not understanding it.

Or at best, by people whose incomes may not depend on it (and who may be personally honest), but who are not unreasonable enough to take others on. Which is bad in any case.

Well, in that case, does one really need reasonable men anymore?

rk-laxman-common-manOne might argue that given the current state of affairs and thick-skinned armoury to protect status quo, one does not.

In every aspect of governance, perhaps, we need unreasonable men who are unwilling to accept the status quo.

Unreasonable men who may look indecent; whose means may look, well, unreasonable; who may look like rabble rousers; but who have good intentions at large, and the courage to take on bigger bullies.

And most importantly, whose salaries (or incomes!) do not depend on their not understanding what is good for the people and nation in general.

Suffice it to say that the Delhi CM and his bunch of unreasonable men and women, and the awakening of the common, reasonable man that they have managed to do, is uncommon.

If one gives precedence to substance over form, the least that an uncommon bunch of unreasonable men (with fairly independent incomes!) deserve is a fair chance.

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5 Responses to The Unreasonable, Uncommon Man

  1. Sid says:

    We tried to do the uncommon, where we once were,only to our detriment. As you said after a while ‘common sense’prevailed.The irony is that ‘common sense’ is that ‘uncommon’ degree which the world calls WISDOM. Were we wise? I don’t know. Were the detractors (you know who they were) wise? They have still kept their jobs,also got promotions and the usual jing bangs. Perhaps they were indeed ‘commonly’ wise which is required in a set-up like that, whereas we were the ‘uncommon’ riff-raffs…..I am confused!

  2. Sid says:

    And they say that the history of the world is the history of a few ‘uncommon men!!!

  3. thanks for the comments – True words indeed, Sid! we are on the same page..

  4. Samir Rasam says:

    Very well said Ranjit. I agree with this. Time has come to support such unreasonable people who possibly can change things the way they are today. Atleast if we can’t be that, let’s support those who are. This is really what will bring the change that this country badly needs.

  5. Thanks for your comments Samir!

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