People vs the masses
[Dawn] AS Pakistan prepares for landmark elections this spring, here's a plea to the country's politicians, young and old, male and female: stop talking down to the Pakistani 'masses' and start addressing the 'people' of Pakistan. Yes, there's a difference -- a very big one.

Make the switch -- in mindsets as well as in your vocabulary -- and you will see. Suddenly, being a politician in Pakistan will become more of a challenge. It will also become, hopefully, more interesting and fulfilling.

Addressing 'people' means listening first to their hopes and aspirations, recognising them as citizens and voters, as men and women who have choices which they exercise intelligently and with dignity. The 'masses' can be neglected, ignored and browbeaten. They can be manipulated and denigrated -- and their votes can be bought and sold. Try doing that to 'people' -- and you will have a full-fledged revolution on your hands.

In the words of Emma Lazarus, the masses are tired, poor and huddled, yearning to breathe free. In contrast, people are first and foremost, free and proud individuals and second, part of a group.

For an even better distinction between the two, read Pope Pius XII's Christmas radio message in 1944, where he talks of masses as no more than "a shapeless multitude, an inert mass to be manipulated and exploited". On the other hand, a "people", he says, is much more remarkable, representing a "group of persons, each of whom -- 'at his proper place and in his own way' -- is able to form its own opinion on public matters and has the freedom to express its own political sentiments and bring them to bear positively on the common good". A state does not make a people; rather, a people make a state, the pope explains further.
Posted by: Fred 2013-02-03