Day : 5th January 1895
Location : Paris
Under the shadow of Eiffel Tower – then six years old, Alfred Dreyfus – A French Army Artillery officer of Jewish Ancestry convicted of Treason, was publically stripped of his army rank, his sword broken over the knee while the officer kept on repeating, “I swear that I am innocent. I remain worthy of serving in the army. Long live France. Long live the Army.” Dreyfus was sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island in French Guiana.
“The owl whose night bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light”, goes the old saying, holds true in this famous trail of the century, still remembered as The Dreyfus Affair. Falsely convictied, Dreyfus Affair is a good example to see how our improper perspective can lead to horrible injustice which can drive any saint insane.
Though Anti-Semitism was not the initial cause of his conviction but this perspective surely triggered his life sentence to a cell which though was surrounded by the ocean but altered in a way to prevent him from scenic view. Dale Carnegie once said, “Those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still.” This Anti Semitism perspective was so strong that the real traitor Major Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy who at length has written his hatred for French Army and was so obviously guilty was found not guilty in a secret court martial after which he flew to England. Not only this, Lieutenant Colonel Georges Picquart who reported the actual traitor Major Esterhazy was transferred to Tunisia and later imprisoned.
After much protest and awareness, in 1899, a second trial was conducted in which despite all evidences were in favor of Dreyfus but yet again due to failure of accountability and political influence Dreyfus was again convicted guilty but this time with a reference “extenuating circumstances.” However, President Emile Loubet of liberal government finally offered and official pardon to Dreufus and was set free.
With snail’s pace, this famous affair was ended in July 1906 when Dreyfus was officially exonerated and was readmitted into the army as Major. Sooner he was also given the highest decoration in France – “Legion of Honour”. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and died in Paris aged 75.
We see our world as per own perspective which is a direct result of our life experiences, our values and our physiological state. We see what our perspective allows us to see but to say that our perspective is the only reality might not only be wrong but will limit us to see the bigger picture. The Dreyfus Affair is a clear example how a single perspective can lead to suffering and shame.
Right before the epic battle of Mahabharata, seeing himself fight against his own relatives and friends, Arjuna finds himself in a difficult position and refused to fight the battle. Thanks to Lord Krishna for giving the teachings of “The Gita” which gave a different perspective of the war and helped Arjuna who was initially overwhelmed with compassion and despair to see the truth and a bigger picture.
In our day to day life we encounter various challenges, challenges that can turn us cold as liquid nitrogen. These challenges come to us in a blinding speed with utterly no warnings. Only by letting go of our egoes, by seeking different perspectives not only can we boost empathy but can find a meaningful solution to any our of problems. Let’s walk this walk and see a complete different world of new opportunites and solutions just by intentionally working on different perspectives. Remember we can’t win over our Duryodhana by remaining same Arjuna.
“If not you, then who? If not now, then when?” – Andrzej Kolikowski.