The sufferings of Nuñez, portrayed as the protagonist by H.G. Wells in his novel ‘Countries of the Blind’ resembles the sufferings of reformers throughout history, especially in the backward nations filled with misery and unhappiness, where people are accustomed to turning a blind eye to reality because they are right and others not.
The reformers here find, as Nuñez found himself, there is a conflict between reality and in what they see and believe, and pressure they are subjected to in order to keep their eyes closed so that they may be accepted by the societies they live in.
Anyone who reads the novel ‘Country of the Blind’, especially in our own countries, will discover the extent of its projections on many of our situations, and a similar conflicting situation within Nuñez, and in many of us, between acceptance of what is customary among the group of blind, and between what we find in other countries – the examples of which are many and impossible to note down.
The hero in the novel agreeing to get his eyes plucked resemble many of us after discovering our inability to do anything and failure to convince even one individual to convince that he is not blind and can see everything crystal clear, and that he is right while others are blind to the reality but can see only what is of benefit or interest for them or disasters that will hit them inevitably if they insist on perseverance.
The symbolism of the novel, as Munir Tayeh wrote in the Huffington Post, is that it speaks of ignorance and intellectual poverty, and the ease with which it can be spread whenever they fertile land and perfect climate. Ignorance is what makes people panic-stricken, helpless creatures.
Whoever lives in our world today has to be blindfolded, shut his mind and kill his conscience. Everything in this world is driving us crazy, there is no life for those who keep their eyes wide open and use their conscience. Blindness and dead conscience has become the way of life on this planet.
The novel overshadows many of the events around us that we consider or preach. When you are the only savior in the time of madness, the only learner in the age of ignorance, and the only visionary in the land of the blind, your values, ideas, opinions and vision of life either fall in the hands of society or you feel that your mind and thoughts are an obstacle between you and the society, or that the society sees you as a sick citizen who needs to be treated, and you are predestined to suffer and you will be accused of madness, recklessness and treachery.
There are so many people among us who are blind so we either surrender or pretend to be like them or strive to change the situation which must not last long.
Any of the large-scale projects planned by our leaders will not succeed without social changes and social reforms that make men and women equal, and completely eradicate the domination of the cleric, which has always been a hindrance to any development.
Note: At 9 pm on Friday, I will turn off the lights of the house for five minutes, and invite readers to do the same, to demonstrate our solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people.
By Ahmed Al-Sarraf