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Zoon Politikon

Zoon Politikon
Man is a 'political animal', says Aristotle.
IT IS very true that solitude creates introspection. Who are you when no one is watching? Being in the confines of one’s own mind is daunting enough, but to go through our daily lives without interacting with one another is a different challenge altogether.

We are after all, political animals, as Aristotle pointed out, zoon politikon, who thrive on communication and understanding. It is not mistaken to say that everyone wants to be heard. However, such an ideal is often met with the frustrating tone of indifference, as dissimilar personalities clash for the coveted platform.

I imagine this platform to have mystical powers, allowing its master the ability to express his or her opinions unabashedly, unfiltered, and raw. The great orators of days past had this advantage. More often than not, they prospered when under the spotlight.

Back to being alone – when the four walls are smaller than you think, and when the heart yearns to be touched by another. As a form of punishment, many penitentiaries opt for solitary confinement. This method of chastisement definitely dehumanises the unfortunate inmate, who is trapped in his own thought processes without much external stimuli.

Moreover, this dehumanisation process is not blatantly expressed because a statement of intent would be met with widespread scorn and protests by the public. Solitary confinement breaks the psyche of those who are unlucky enough to be in it; a bottomless hole of distressing monologue.
Personally, I take it to be an insidious form of castigation, and when taken to the extreme, the worst type of punishment that can be meted out on any living human being.

Contemporary examples include the TV series, Prison Break. When Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) was sent to solitary confinement, it was inevitable that he would gradually lose his sanity. Alas, the picture of him rolling on the floor in his own blood is not only ghastly, but predictable.

As endured by Michael Scofield, prolonged isolation will cause mental stress and when pushed to the extreme, physical harm.

Again, the incessant yearning to be heard by the people around us proves that we are social entities. When devoid of such instances, we are left with our own minds, an abyss that is deeper than any ocean and darker than any night.

Mental fortitude is hard to come by in our modern world as we are often distracted by many events around us, various trivial matters of little importance.

It is not erroneous to say that a short attention span is a collective conundrum, a problem that permeates society, regardless of race, religion, and other social and biological constructs.

Therefore, as a collective, we should take a step back from the noise of everyday life and breathe.Take in the air that sustains life, and as a consequence, we are to be more focused and mentally strong.

As social creatures, we must allow room for proper dialogue with one another. Barriers that relate to trust should be discarded for a more open comprehension of the society we live in, and beyond.

It is up to us to build our own mental strength, which then allows for a more honest bond with other human beings, as well as the elements around us.

Unlike those in solitary confinement, we are able to express our sentiments with other sentient beings, which when grasped at an intimate level, makes us who we are as conscious interlocutors.


* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of Astro AWANI