Being Susegad at a Time of Coronavirus – II

Image Source: Canadian Occupational Safety

Zero is not just an empty space holder. It is also a multiplier of space and value. The power of zero is mathematically fully explored. One can also find its philosophical explorations. Zero opens an unbound space. It truly presents a blank slate. It is a matrix of power that can lead to fresh germination of ideas and visions. Thinkers from South America speak about the zero point epistemology to contest the hegemony of euro-centric knowledge –power structure. Goa has cultural as well as historical links with the lusophone, which can be a new locus of epistemic disobedience and other decolonial options. Roland Barthes, a French , post-structuralist writes about a zero degree writing which absorbs all forms of writings like a vacuum cleaner. This metaphor of a vacuum cleaner can indeed aptly describe our global condition with the disruption of the covid-19 pandemic. The virus appears to work like a vacuum cleaner sucking into it not just us who have deficiencies in our immunity but also the ways we organised and ordered our life. Covid-19 has taken us to a zero point.

Any zero point is a position of power. It is a position of hope that offers us possibilities to reposition the way be organised and ordered our life. We have this opportunity to re-prioritize our thinking habits, values, hierarchies, etc that have come to order our life. The crumbling of our comfort zones, everyday routines, economic structures, and ideological views can ring in elements of cynicism and feelings of hopelessness. Italian political thinker, Georgio Agamben, indicates that thought is the courage of hopelessness. Helplessness before a lethal virus is a zero point that has great opportunities to think that which remained unthought and say that which remained unsaid and even got shielded as unsayable. This means it is our opportunity to develop what may be called zero thinking. Zero thinking understands that zero point has opened the drawing board. Life is not going to be the same for us in a post-covid -19 scenario. But we cannot be caught napping as we find the global community in this disruption. We need to find ways in which we can reinvent the way we organise and order our life and our society.

The zero point that we have reached is a matrix of power to undertake zero thinking. With the global community and as well as a country we have this opportunity to reposition our thinking and being in the world. I feel a call from within to begin a zero thinking as Goan. The susegad attitude of us Goans is our strength. Actually, it is a kind of zero thinking. Recently, Raju Nayak , editor of Lokmat celebrated the susegad attitude in his Marathi book on Goan culture. He thinks susegad is indeed a breath of our culture. He presents Goans as cool about life. Maybe it is important to delve into this deeper to understand the power matrix of susegad attitude . Susegad attitude is not a lazy attitude. It is an attitude that oozes with contentment and a sense of a secure future. This is why we are super cool about life. We are not unduly anxious about life amidst all its uncertainties. We just absorb life in all its shades and colour and are not rattled by it. It is our way of letting things be. But we are not fatalists. It is a Buddha like attitude to life. Maybe it is connected with our belief that everything is going to pass. It is about non-permanency of life beautifully transmitted from generation to generation by the dictum: ‘Sonvsar ho chear disacho’.

This susegad attitude is born out of the crucible of life in a little land that we came to love and call as Goa. It is original to us. Maybe it came from our Buddhist past. It is a way of life. Maybe under the Portuguese colonization, we came to call it the Susegad attitude. Indeed, the word Susegad zeroes into us. It captures the soul of Goans, Goa, and Goan-ness. Goans everywhere in the world cannot live outside its breath. We need this susegad attitude to sail through this ravaging storm. Being susegad or being cool is not about blindly submitting to our fate. There is the anticipatory assuredness of learnings of the past and the active creation of a secure future . This anticipatory assurance is rolled into the present and that is what makes us cool or susegad. This is the best cultural heritage that we have received from our ancestors . It tides us over the ‘sukti / boti ‘ of our life. The tourism industry trades on it as it embodies ‘God’s welcome’ to all guests into Goa.

Armed with a susegad attitude we can certainly think again and reposition the kind of Goa and Goan-ness that we like to take forward. The zero point brought about by the lethal virus is opening the drawing board and we can redraw , re-organize and re-order our ways of being Goans, Indians, and Humans. We had already reached a zero point in the mining industry. Now the tourism industry is going to run into trouble. Several Goans who are stranded in their vessels and we want them back to Goa are not certain of the future of the shipping industry. Our Government with all its good intentions appears to be goofing up with the way it is managing our fight our battle with Covid-19. Thus, a life that we got accustomed to is folding up at a blink of an eye. We have indeed reached a zero point in Goa like everyone in the world for now. This zero point has an imperative to undertake zero thinking. Zero thinking can assist us to open the matrix of power that has great opportunities to rebuild our society. It can assist us to evaluate our gains and losses with a cool mind that we cherish as a susegad attitude . We have this opportunity to take our gains forward and devise new modes, structures, institutions and ways of being Goans in a Post-Covid-19 Goa and the world.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao