This is 2019 and unlike basic precincts of evolution, it seems that we are hardly evolving. Oh yes, technology is raging, smartphones are turning smarter but alas we the people are somehow finding ourselves shrunk deeper in our man-made caves of confusion and intolerance. India the rich land of multiple religions has always been home to communal violence. The effects of global terrorism do not help much either, disregarding respect and wiping away solace from the face of the earth. Maybe a snap of the fingers could do the trick, aka Thanos style. Just do away with the fringe elements and live happily ever after. The only problem being that in our convoluted worlds where the lines between right and wrong are blurred so decisively it is not only difficult to tell the difference it is also unmanageably hard to stay put on our steadfast beliefs. The beliefs of faith and religion that have taken the world in a whirlwind of values and philosophy, ironically are the very reason why is there is disharmony, disbelief, and broken hearts.
Riots, burning of trains, open shootings, suicide bombings, and the list can go on. Lives lost, homes broken, children orphaned and families shattered as in the name of religion we find one psychopath individually or organizationally leading the way believing that he or they are the sole ways of emancipation. Aptly timed, I cannot help coming back to Thanos. The self-assumed God who thinks he is doing the right thing and saving humanity so much trouble. Yet, the rationality of his logic sucks in the face of human emotions, friendships, and relationships. Drawing a parallel to the world today, we have seen attacks in Christchurch and in Colombo recently, but these are nothing new. We have seen these before, felt the wave of pain much earlier and prayed best in the way we know for those who pray differently but for the same things.
How does this pan out in our Indian landscape?
First of all, India is probably one of those rare places where the ethnicity and religious diversity is such that it lies on the tender hooks of communal harmony that can be snapped at any point depending on both international and domestic situations. On the other hand, the very fact that we live together as neighbors, friends, family, and acquaintances and not as Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs or Jews is wherein our biggest strength lies. Yes, we are different from each other, just as we ought to be, yet there is a deep sense of respect and love that runs across regions and politics when it comes to human relations and humanity. In India, the election fever is high and the religious undercurrents of the various parties are no suspense. The minorities and majorities are spread across political lines and there is a sense of unease that has been gradually making waves across the social spectrum of our country. Whose fault is it? Not mine nor yours. But it might just become our problem if we start paying heed to these very insecurities forgetting the bond that we share as human beings and friends.
But there is a stark difference between religion and terrorism and this needs to be understood in absolute clarity. The man who shot Muslim worshipers in New Zealand is a terrorist as are the bombers who bombed churches in Colombo. The men who played havoc on 7/11 in Mumbai are terrorists as are those who attacked a hotel in Nairobi. Terrorism is a global problem propelled and launched under the garb of religion. Politics and religion cannot go hand in hand just as religion and terrorism cannot be seen together. And this perhaps is the biggest lesson we need to learn in this hour. That no matter what, our relations and friendships cannot be dictated by political or religious dictums. Scarily, the social space is suddenly accessible to opinions, spoofs and memes of all kinds making the sheer understanding of everything from politics to fashion a mere click or swipe away. As we get more open to sharing our thoughts we are also getting more restrained to allow differences of opinions. Yes, we are citizens of our country, who also follow a religion, who have our own opinions and a back story. We the people of India, in fact, the people of the world, are people first, embroiled and entangled in communication, relations, and brotherhood. We can have different political opinions, we can have different aspirations and we can debate, learn from each other. We can complement, we can compensate and we can communicate our differences because we are grounded enough to know that a difference in thought process is attuned to only that particular discussion.
To all my friends, my country fellows and global citizens, please be open to opinions and political rights irrespective of which religion, region or culture the individual voicing them belongs to. Please don’t break the bonds of friendship that have and will continue to rise above divinity, regions, languages, cultures, and faith. We all feel the hurt and the shame that comes when our communities are blotted due to the actions of the rotten apples. But in the end, we represent only ourselves and who we are. We stand in unison to call out on those who are fanatics and who live to kill. We also stand above hatred, malice, misrepresentation and false assumptions. Let’s step out from our caves of walled information to be inclusive, yet give each the space to have their own views without labeling or categorizing them. Let’s embrace once again the heritage of unity in diversity that is the hallmark of this great nation.