>The writer of this article is one that has always held out hope and believed that even when the worst of it hits the fan, it will get better and somehow we will get through it. But now it is getting harder and harder to do that with each passing day. Something must change.
In India as a country we live divided. Of course this reminds me of the lessons of childhood of breaking one stick alone and then many together that we have all heard, but apparently almost none have learnt. We are a country that has become polarised at its most basic levels, even in the wake of a crisis like the ones before us where everyone I talk to is certain that with the elections around the corner all political parties are going to try and incite and use this to try and get mileage and further polarise the people to their benefit. For those following the news at all, this can already be seen in the form of newspaper advertisements blaring about the weakness of the government. Should all parties not put their differences aside in this of all times and work together in the interest of the nation until the crisis is past? I like to think so, but apparently that’s not the case.
In fact this writer has travelled across the country and spent a fair amount of time on all sides of this amazingly diverse nation with friends and acquaintances everywhere and it is my experience that the average person is happy and not biased or intolerant but there are so many that have prejudices and hatred in their heart simmering – not against a foreign enemy but against their own brethren, their own countrymen who differ from them only by something like religion or geographical location. Right at this moment there is a man on TV who’s son is still trapped with the terrorists in one of the hotels who says that this is not about religion or creed but a matter for all Indians to come together for. This is something for which I admire the Americans, no matter how much they might dislike each other or not get along, when it calls for it, they will come together as a country like no other.
There is an old Arabic saying that goes, “No matter how dark the night, the dawn will always break.” This has been so meaningful because in many ways it so simply and yet so poignantly explains life itself – there is always something different, something scary, challenging and even at times painful, but with hope and faith to keep us going, people find a way to the other side of every challenge.
For generations the stories we have passed down from word of mouth to books to TV and movie’s have exemplified hardship and overcoming them; these are the stories that people across demographics connect with and that represent the best that humanity and human nature have to offer.
Even in real life there are so many examples of this historically, in fact we don’t even need to go very far back: the Tsunami in the southern Asian region, Hurricane Katrina, the riots in Gujarat, September 11th in New York, the genocide in Darfur and so many more. In each one of these incidents the thing in this writers view that stands out is not the devastation or loss, its the reaction of the people who give of themselves to donate everything from money to food to clothing and so much more and the aid workers who leave home and family to travel to an alien country across the planet to help people who they ostensibly owe nothing and may never see again, risking their own lives in the process. This is humanity at its brightest, this is what we all somewhere deep down strive toward.
But more and more recently it seems that we are losing something. There were always two sides, the people that wanted peace and would technically be the “meek” to which the Bible refers, on the other side you have the people who either for greed, power, blind and rabid faith, intolerance and fear or any number of reasons want to solve all problems by decimating that which is not agreeable.
Somehow we have always lived in a balance and there are good times and bad times. In its own way the balance itself was like nature and life. No more.
For anyone who follows news and current events, both locally and internationally, we have made so much progress and grown so much in nearly every way possible in leaps and bounds. The problem is though that for all the growth and progress, socially we are regressing and devolving and its not getting any better.
Intolerance, fear, scaremongering and hatred are becoming more and more prevalent. War is becoming a way of life and apathy and ignorance are a norm. There was a line of dialogue that said, “Sometimes I wonder if God will ever forgive us for what we have done to one another. And then I realise, that God has left this place a long time ago…” Call it what you will, but looking at our world today can you say this is an exaggeration?
What kind of world are we living in where every news channel or newspaper is filled to the brim with nothing but murder, death, rape, abuse, terror, war, fraud, embezzlement and a whole load of other topics, all in the same vein. Is there not something wrong with the world we have created where we are for the first time in history truly ‘global’ and connected to almost anyone, anywhere on the planet at almost any given time, and yet the only positive big news in this writers view in the last few days has been that the protesters in Thailand have made a concerted effort to solve their problems by peaceful but effective demonstrations to ensure they are heard and the government has chosen to hold back military and maybe hopefully resolve this in a decent, civilised manner.
As I sit here writing this out with the news on TV cycling through channels near me, I see images that break my heart, images that do nothing but prove right the above allegations.
In fact, the other major factor that they highlight is something very dear to me, something that I have found astounding that it has not been realised by others. We have images being flashed everywhere of the terrorists who have thoughtlessly taken so many lives and caused all this madness to grow – and likely destabilised a place that was a political hotbox anyway and now may explode with global repercussions from a religious/communal point of view – and the thing about these monsters that stands out is their appearance.
We have all heard stories, jokes and any number of tales of stereotyping, especially in the wake of the NYC attacks and the US war on terror, the profiling, the “random checks”, the suspicion thrown at anyone with a ‘Muslim’ looking beard or dress and many such small details. Now there is pictorial proof of something that this writer has been arguing for years, that if I was a terrorist, the one thing I would not do is stand out. The images of the attackers in Mumbai show youths not that different in appearance from the average youth of the sub-continent, from the clothes to the hair to the shoulder bags and all. But of course, the security guard at the airport in the US or Europe will see a South Asian man in a turban or looking ‘Muslim’ and be instantly suspicious. I don’t blame them, be clear, but instant prejudice is a flaw, one that leaves us open to attacks like the one we are suffering as I type. Maybe it is our perceptions that need to change a little, and perhaps we need to pay closer attention to the question of what world it is we are leaving for future generations? This is very important because the way things are going, if the continue on this track, do you imagine the near future to be a place you would want to live?
In the end I guess it is just a question of ‘Where do we go from here?’