Specialists rule our lives and we submit to them completely. We regard them as beacon lights. They are our saviours, our torch bearers, our leaders. We have specialists in every walk of life; from the cradle to the grave they are around to tell us what to do and what not to do. For example, you are tired and need to relax. You ask, ‘How do I relax? I feel so bored.’ And along comes the specialist in fun and entertainment. You give yourself over to the monkeys on the screen; they tickle your fancies, whet your appetites, live your dreams and fantasies and at the end of a couple of hours in which you forgot yourself, your boredom and your tiredness, they leave you none the wiser or more spirited than you were before it. And then there are counselors for your job, your career; if you have trouble with your spouse you have those who will tell you what to do and how you must live your life with your partner, with your babies, and with your bosses. We have specialists of all kinds; we are told what soap to buy, what perfume to splash on our body, what rouge to apply on the face and what colour of hair you must have.
Why are we so dependent on the specialists? “The specialist knows; I don’t know.” Yes, of course. The scientist tells me about the nature of the earth; the doctor cures me of my illness; the barber cuts my hair; the banker keeps my money safe; the builder knows how to construct a house for me. True. All these specialists are certainly required by all of us. Life without them is unthinkable. From ancient times, ever since we formed and lived in societies, we needed them – the traders, the craftsmen and so on. But, surely, we are not talking about them at all. The specialists we are talking about are of a different kind. They stimulate your urges and appetites; they tell you what you should think and do; they tell you what you should read; what you should wear; how you should behave; what you should become. In the temple, the priest dictates. In the market place, the advertiser guides you about what to buy. The clothes we wear must come from a well-known designer, even if it costs you a fortune. “Wear your attitude”, they tell you, whatever that means I am unable to fathom. They tell you how you should live your life; how you should build your personality. We cheerfully submit to their ministrations and injunctions and allow ourselves to be led easily. And easy as it is to follow somebody than to think for ourselves, we depend on them.
Why has the specialist become so important to us? Are we so gullible enough that we are easily carried away by the specialist’s mumbo jumbo? Have they robbed us of our thinking, put to sleep our intellect and made us incapable of handling our own lives? Why are we, like sheep, easily led, as it were, by the entertainers, the beauticians, the couturiers, the counselors, the consultants and the shrinks? We have made our life a second-hand affair, for we constantly repeat what this, that or the other specialist has said. The scribes tell us how to handle news, what opinions we must have, what we must do or not do in a given situation and generally fill our minds with inconsequential things that we use to endlessly debate amongst ourselves.
In matters of the spirit, the Guru is the lord; he leads and we follow; he pontificates and we accept; he shows the way and we tread the path. The Gurus have set up shops all over the world; they spread their wares and invite us to buy; they mesmerize us with words and we get carried away; they make us sit quietly, dance to their tunes, laugh at their jokes and above all, like the entertainers, make us forget for a few hours our problems.
What is it precisely that the specialist offers? He offers a way to escape from the routine and the boredom of life. He adjures you to be different and yet how can a product of specialization be different? He tells you what is ‘in’, what it means to be modern and what fashion you must chase. He espouses the common, the uniform and the accepted. The outsider is bad business for him and so he advocates conformity – to an ideal, to a standard. He has a formula for success, at any rate that is what he is selling; it is his USP – the universal selling point of his success.
But, of course, we are all in this game and no one to blame. We are both the exploiters and the exploited. For, the specialists are the same as those who depend on them. It is just a matter of roles we play. As a specialist you are the exploiter and as the ordinary man looking up to the specialist, you are the exploited. You may be a specialist in your chosen field, but in other matters you are once again at the receiving end.
[ Originally appeared in Chillibreeze ]