Was watching a painting work going on in the locality. Had ample time as was waiting for someone. With nothing much to do, so started observing the workers. Initially out of boredom but later on I got quite caught up in it. They had started the work of building a scaffolding. The scaffolding is a framework of metal pipes on which the painters will stand and do their job. 

There was one leader who was giving them the orders and supervising them. He was running around checking each and every part of the scaffolding. The workers were very meticulous and disciplined in their work. Lost in their work, they had no inkling of  bystanders like me watching them. Within minutes the scaffolding started taking shape. The workers started with erecting the lower part. Once the supervisor was satisfied about the strength and stability of the scaffolding they climbed on it and further raised the height of the scaffolding. All this while they ensured that it was made strong and stable by adding cross linkages and more parts.  Once they were satisfied they climbed higher and higher and in a matter of an hour the scaffolding was almost 3 storeys high. Quite a feat. 

Just then the person for whom I was waiting for, arrived. And reluctantly I had to leave my idle observations. 

At night that day, as I was trying to sleep the whole process of erecting of the scaffolding came back to my mind. For absolutely no reason, I really couldn’t think of any. Of all the beautiful things on earth why the hell was i thinking of a dull drab scaffolding. I just kept thinking about it for some more time and then suddenly it struck me like a random bolt of lightening. It could have been a very superficial thought nevertheless a thought it was. And any thought is worth following. Especially if you have all the time in the world.

Coming back to the thought, I had been thinking a lot about ideologies. Social ideologies, economic ideologies, political ideologies and also religious ideologies. I had an epiphany in that moment, that somehow the scaffolding and ideologies are interlinked. 

As I thought about it more and more the picture started becoming clearer and clearer in my mind. 

Creating any ideology is like erecting a scaffolding. Bit by bit, meters by meters the ideology is slowly built. The leader or the creator of that ideology then climbs the scaffolding and orders his workers/followers to raise the height of the scaffolding. The workers/followers obey him. 

The rules of the scaffolding, the material to be used, the interconnections, the selection of the workers is decided by the leader/ creator. The workers/followers do only the specific part of work that has been allotted to them. 

Now here comes the interesting part. As the leader rises higher along the scaffolding he realises he his getting a commanding view and also a commanding position. His profile also increases as he can reach more and more people by being higher and higher. He is also respected by his workers/followers for creating such a huge scaffolding. It’s just a matter of time that he becomes the king or the ruler of his workers/followers. His leadership is due to the social, financial, political or religious scaffolding that he has erected. With the material available to him, knowledge available at that specific time and his leadership skills and work ethics and also a degree fairness in dealing with his workers/followers. 

Upto this stage things are fairly simple and follow a linear path. As the ideology/scaffolding starts getting bigger and taller negative things start happening. The leader being on the top, at a great height starts to feel insecure. He feels that the scaffolding might crack or break down leading to his downfall. The feeling of insecurity or fear is fleeting initially but day by day it starts becoming stronger and stronger. So instinctively he starts strengthening his scaffolding. And to strengthen the scaffolding he decides on strict rules for his workers/followers. As indiscipline might lead to chaos and will destroy his life time efforts in erecting the scaffolding. These rules are then formulated and thus begins the codification of the ideology. The codes are intentionally made strict. To create discipline the codes/rules are strictly enforced. Various punishments are defined for code breakers. In fact, fear is created in the followers by extremely harsh punishments. Thus the ideology which was relatively flexible starts becoming more and more rigid. 

Then comes the most interesting part. The leader knows he has a finite lifetime. But how can he let his creation go waste after his death. So he makes a hierarchy of workers/followers. The hierarchy ensures that there is a discipline and that everybody knows their own part in it. But it also ensures that somebody will take his place after his death. Thus there will be a successor who will ensure that the ideology(scaffolding) survives after the creator’s death. The successor strongly believes in the ideology because he has become a successor to his leader because of this ideology. This leads to the perpetuation of the ideology. As more and more successors wear the mantle of the leader they start tinkering with the ideology. They may change a few things or add somethings but the overall direction of all their efforts is towards making their ideology bigger and greater. As they also would like to be mentioned in the history of their ideology. They start accommodating more and more worker/followers.  Now the ideology(scaffolding) has to bear the weight of the burgeoning numbers of followers. And therefore it has to be strengthened to sustain the more number of followers. So it is done by making it extremely rigid. 

The constitution of an ideology is thus complete. The codes are passed on through generations in written form or oral form. The coming generations are spared of all the hard work of erecting the scaffolding. They just have to maintain it. And maintaining is done by enforcing the codes/rules ruthlessly. Thus any ideology with time starts getting more and more rigid. The feeling of the absoluteness and primacy of the ideology is ingrained among the followers. And anything which does not adhere to the tenets of this ideology is deemed lowly at the best and enemy at the worst. Thus start conflicts between ideologies as they come in contact with each other. With globalisation individual people are coming near to each other but that has also lead to the conflicts because of the ideology each individual might follow. Each follower has a stake in his ideology as his financial, social or political position is due to the result of his ideology. These individuals who have gained most are loathe to let go of their ideology. And they add their own irrational two bits to the ideology. 

This is the connection i found between most of the social, political, economic and religious ideologies and my idle observation about a scaffolding.

P.S. For a single scaffolding to rise high many small scaffolding’s have to be aborted in their growth. Sometimes by the lack of leadership skills of their leader. Sometimes due to a very weak scaffolding. Sometimes due to loss of workers/followers to a bigger and stronger scaffolding. Sometimes due to threats or benefits offered. So hundreds of ideologies die or are killed before one becomes successful.