Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Idea of Justice, Equality and Opportunity: Seven illustrations that help children understand the world, power structure and society

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

How to teach the 'idea of justice', to children.  How to make them understand realities of the world.

And, make them learn the ills of 'system'--things like exploitation, oppression, need for diversity and equal opportunity, at a young age.

This is what I learnt from these comics in my childhood. These writers were brilliant, they taught you all--equality, compassion, need for justice, without using tough terms in these comics.

Just see these six-seven panels that I have selected from an old comic. In the story, that is pure fiction and entertainment, ideas of justice and equality were incorporated, and this goes on to the level that it inspires the reader.

If you read properly, you will understand the story. The change that came up after freedom--everyone is an equal. There is liberty, talent has the opportunity to come forward, people share knowledge, are inclusive, want to give equal opportunities to all irrespective of their past, financial or social status.

As power structure changes, the 'Old Order' and its proponents are unhappy.

They talk about 'taxes', irked over funding of public education and health, that why 'poor and non-elite' get treated as equals.

They're still powerful but feel 'insecure'. It happens in all societies.

There is a rise in insecurity when the poor or a new class emerges. We see it around us, even in our times. This phenomenon is always there, a group that resents any change and prefers 'traditional system'.

The 'Old Order' strikes back, wants a return to the past. 'Why should ordinary, common folk need education.

See the lines, 'Our power had gone, our land gone....we elite lose and our land is being distributed to poor'.

"If you get access to education, who will work for us, who will work on our fields".

It wants to bring 'old order' again, the 'Golden era', the 'imagined past'. And, here comes they who want their share in the loot. They are 'allies' now because they sense the opportunity to once again wrest control over resources, lord over poor.

Time for the loot!

There is resistance. The 'Old Order' fails to capture power.

Those who joined hands with the inclusive, just state, are pardoned.

'They wanted to stop wheel of change'. Now that's small part.

All these 6-7 panels would together form barely ONE page of the 30 page comic but more powerful than text books. No jargons like communism, socialism or talk of inclusive steps, diversity and equal opportunities, but this is understood.

This is a Flash Gordon comic. It was published in the eighties.

Though it was originally written in USA, they were published in India by a special arrangement with Indrajal Comics.

The artwork was improved, the comics here were better as quality was enhanced, comics were colorized.

This is just an example how certain writers tried to imbibe humane values. Personally, I am always fascinated by these writers.

They belonged to certain societies that may have been capitalist but the stories had such characters that egged on the reader to take STAND, always.

Stand against injustice, Stand against Oppression. And, stand against capitalist loot too. Quite interesting. Isn't it!


Flash Gordon was originally drawn by Alex Raymond. Flash and his companion Dale Arden, along with scientist Dr Hans Zarkov fight the evil Ming, in Mongo. Prince Barin leads the revolution and the power is snatched from the elite, it is now in the hands of the common people.