I have never really delved into politics. I have always had an incomplete idea about politicians and their histories. I continue to be swayed by biased journalism and the picture of broken governance through shattered glass. I make mistakes, jump to conclusions based on one-sided reports on media channels. I deal out rhetoric on social media, often comfortable with half-baked facts that are presented to me on a plate – without ever having felt the need to probe further.
As such, I taught myself a valuable lesson. I decided to actively avoid any article that was even casually political in nature, any report that spoke of violence against women or men, for that matter. I began to steer clear of any controversial topic, that’d otherwise make my blood boil. I began to disengage from ultra-nationalists and progressive liberals who spewed venom and raised storms – warmly ensconced in the luxury of their air-conditioned homes and their lightning quick broadband connections. I scrolled past reports that idolised the common man, who’d taken up arms against the heinous crimes of a nation – leading a glorious (albeit only slightly bloody) revolution against the very men assigned to protect the sanctity of our borders from our friendly neighbours. I shrugged off reports of stupid men who’d die protecting the homes of the very gentlemen who lusted for their blood, who encouraged young children to take up arms (“for freedom”), instead of books. I dismissed the humanitarian views of famous personalities who wept for these glorious heroes and gave away military secrets and strategies – never mind that lives were endangered – because hey, responsible, free journalism.
I sighed over reports of polite gentlemen who took it on themselves to maintain the purity of our nation, of our culture, by efficiently weeding out lecherous men and women who had dared to go out for dinner. They successfully interrupted sinister gatherings of boys and girls from “respectable” households – who instead of studying and cultivating the tenets of deep rooted patriarchy and misogyny – had begun to interact freely, often exchanging notes and rationale – ripping apart the very fabric of our ultra-progressive society. I just thanked my stars, that my honourable chief minister was a far more magnanimous leader – disbursing funds among her polite, educated and kind party members – never mind, if that set back the development of the state a few centuries; all those reports about women or men being openly assaulted was just a figment of a misguided nation’s imagination.
I wondered in awe, as our friendly neighbourhood cow rose to prominence – overshadowing insignificant acts of violence against certain sects of people, routine rapes and murders of women – often in broad daylight, and in the presence of a people who are moved more by heinous atrocities suffered by a hay munching, methane farting bovine, than those suffered by their fellow humans. I watched silently, as an army of knowledgeable men decided to take the law in their hands, proclaimed the innocent ruminating mammal as their mother, and clinically disposed of irreverent men who dared to joke about their mothers. (While their real mothers sat in their homes, their heads sunk in their hands.)
I laughed, joked and I ignored. My friends on Facebook began to grow increasingly polarised – I began to tread softly, steering clear of any controversy.
Until about now.
I think, as Indians, we have this dreadful tendency to try and force our opinions down others’ throats, often resorting to mindless violence in its wake. We find it difficult to accept that there may in fact, be people who look different, talk different and dress different – instead, we crack insensitive jokes in our social circles, forwarding incredibly inane texts and messages – unconsciously reinforcing our deep seated racism and sexism. We attach unnecessary importance to obsolete values and traditions – irrespective of religion, mind you, and ideals that have been rendered irrelevant over time. When we find someone who questions our reverence of the same, we mercilessly slaughter his or her reasoning, not for a second attempting to delve into a logical, scientific debate (because, fuck you – entrenched values > Science.) Unfortunately, the thin line that delineates humour from insensitivity and hatred, is often blurred in reality – often, this line is too subtle to be handled decorously. We trip up regularly, and at the risk of sounding smug, people who have a far lesser stomach for reason can’t be expected to do otherwise. As such, if I crack a joke on my girlfriend’s blatant inability to drive – I will be very careful to make my statement as innocuous as possible, generalising it with disclaimers and strongly underlining my reverence for women.
Of course, the root of this particular problem lies in our general inability to understand that different does not imply inferior. It simply implies dissimilar. We shouldn’t judge a square peg by its inability to fit into a round hole, nor judge an elephant by its inability to climb trees. As such, our callousness when it comes to appreciating the different – has led to entrenched negativity about a different religion, or sex. It takes time, to adapt, to begin to accept that what defies the majority – or as we love to mistake it with, the norm. The most important thing to recognise and appreciate, is that there is no norm when it comes to human beings. We are all unique. Yet, like mindless sheep – we continue to look for ridiculous benchmarks to criminalise the unique. Hence, LGBT still remains a topic that is ridiculed and debased as an illness of the mind. The woman who progresses in her career is of course a slut who has slept with her bosses – never mind the extended hours of work, the workplace discrimination, the casual sexist remarks faced, or the sacrifices she makes every day in her life – warding off over zealous, patriarchal relatives. Of course the man who is friendly with his lady colleagues at work, must be dissatisfied at home, or is a philanderer – hence his tendency to fraternise with women. Or he lacks the spine to stand up to his wife, just because he continues to heed her advice. We continue to wonder at people who are different, dismissing them as anomalies in a smoothly functioning world.
Our inability to appreciate the different has led us to lynch innocent children on the back of baseless suspicions and hunches. Our inability to speak up in the presence of injustice has led to our muteness when we witness men and women being violated, labelled as outcasts and murdered in the name of a horrified and speechless God. Our tendency to appear as progressive, has pushed us into turning a blind eye to the atrocities suffered by our soldiers, our countrymen, who brave death to defend our motherland, and are spat at and criticised – hurled stones at, because of the poisoned rhetoric of a handful of evil, detestable personalities and their blinded, unreasonable followers. And every day as the blood and tears of the fallen wet our motherland, and the families weep silently into oblivion – we continue to contest our political correctness, the importance of an animal and her urine, the evil that comes out of letting men and women mingle freely and the cruelty of our army-men who brave a rain of stones, bullets and bombs – as they continue to silently defend a nation of bickering mindless madmen who kill over hunches, simply because they are too intolerant of different.
We fucked up the day we invented our idea of a norm.
Image source: The Atlantic