Examined Life For A Livable Goa

‘Unexamined life is not worth living’ said Socrates.  He taught that wise lived an examined life.  Self knowledge is a fruit of examined life. Every human person lives at least a partially examined life and feels the challenge of expansion of the horizon of that life.We Goans also feel the imperative to examine our lives. Some teach that Indians have what they call satsang (truth and community driven way of life) as a mode of seeking examined life. How are we to expand the horizon of examined life in Goa?  We in Goa glimpse our life through myriad of lenses as well as introspect into our experience through similar range of perspectives. Hence, we may ask ‘What would be an examined life for us,Goans?’Do we have singular or plural modes of examination of life?  We certainly have diversely plural ways of undertaking examination of life.  These plural modes of thinking open up to a pluriversal ways of thinking and being Goans. Universal ways of thinking and being do have their importance. Its embrace is much wider than the narrow mono-chromatic singular mode of thinking. Yet what we have embedded in Goa is not a merely universal mode of thinking, being and feeling. The bandwidth of thinking, being and feeling Goan is pluriversal.  There is an abiding inclusive dynamism in the way we goanize ourselves and relate to others. This inclusive pluriversal thinking can become a great anti-dote to the monolithic thinking that has taken us captive in our country at this point of time. 

The examined life has been always part of Goan society. The erstwhile ‘char choug’, dha-zann or bara-zann that evolved into the ganvponn of ganvkaria, the small assembliesat chaudder,tiskar, poddver,baim-kodde, manddand the bolkao, tintto, gadi/ tavern have been social spaces that let our ancestors to examine life, while also sometimes these may have operated as  Panchayats that rightly or wrongly expelled and excommunicated those that were deemed as anti-social. Some of these spaces also become platforms for rumour-mongering and other ills. One of the most important platforms that promoted examined life was zagor that allowed spontaneity to enter into performative arts. Today we have the nattok, tiatr and cantaram that operate as modes that challenge us to examine life, besides Newspapers, TV., and other forms of mass media and social media. Such platforms have always provided impetus that we need to live an examined life. Besides, we have religious festivals, rituals,zatras and other cultural gatherings that also nurtured the examined life of Goans. But we may still need a profound reflection or meta-reflection on the forms of examined life that are churned into Goa today. 

Maybe something that is enshrined in Goa animates the pluriversal mode of examining life.  The kind of welcome that Goan people exhibit is not just embedded in our Goan culture, but is rooted in the land, soil and air in Goa. Maybe we have to agree that God’s welcome is profoundly set into our people, culture and our beautiful land. This perhaps may explain the laid back attitude of contentment which is often called susegado of Goans. There are some who view susegado as sheer laziness and hold it to be the reason why Goans react late to issues that affect and afflict Goa badly. These critics may have a point but there are countless strengths and almost a celestial bliss of its kind to this withdrawn attitude to life. A withdrawn/ laid back attitude stays open yet rooted to Goa. It does not dogmatically commit to any particular change that might occur around it. But it is neither mindless nor escapist. There is goal direction and achievement orientation to it. Yet there is no reckless race and hurry in life.  One can find steady progress and anticipated assurance of reaching one’s goal with little or no accompaniment of crippling anxiety. This (almost) Buddha-like attitude is a fruit of examined life. 

An examined life is central to life in Goa. It cannot be mistaken for passivity and escapism from urgent and pressing issues that affect and afflict Goa and Goans. One can certainly trace an acute engagement with Goa and Goan-ness. Even if we admit of several waves of cultural invasions running from pre-colonial, colonial and postcolonial time, we can trace a dynamic flowering of Goan-ness through what might be viewed as selective absorption of the cultural traits that are goanised and stored into the social archive in Goa for posterity. It is this grind (that is linked to our social archive) is the one that provides light that generates examined life in Goa. Besides, in recent days, we can find Goans standing up against ecological and economic exploitations unleashed on Goa and Goans by several vested interests. The authoritarian development that is being pursued by the Government and its cronies today has strong resistance brewing among the Goans. The Mopa airport, the coal hub, nationalisation of rivers, casino menace, and continuous threat to landholdings are being actively opposed by all Goans. This is why thinking Goa and Goan-ness is responsive and dynamically active. This dynamism flows directly from examined life. Such a critical dimension of examined life has to be nourished and nurtured. It has the power to spring forth alternate thinking(s) and save us from blind adherence to oppressive modes of thinking and being Goans. Yes, it is examined life that makes life livable for all. 

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao