By Arijita Sen:
“Life is precious” is a lesson we have all been taught in our childhoods. The same way we’re taught not to lie, which our parents, relatives and the society conveniently forget as we grow up.
There are many truths and its tellers. Our histories are distorted by others and we, in turn, distort theirs and sometimes even work towards bringing an entire nation down. Our realities are an amalgamation of our histories, politics, sociological developments, literature, philosophies and myths/legends. But, surprisingly myths/legends are promoted and the truth, repeatedly suppressed. Through this suppression, another history is written and another reality is created. This new false reality gives birth to anxieties and fears. The media becomes a major medium that contributes to the creation of false realities that adversely affects us all.
Students are arrested because they ask for freedom for a certain oppressed section of the country. Superstars are lauded for their charity and that charity silences puts an end to pending court cases. Celebrities promote sports while many sports persons languish in darkness. Activists and writers are killed on the streets in broad daylight and the release of goons is celebrated.
That’s our country. A country we are proud of. A country that’s one of the fastest growing economies yet a Dalit man had to carry his spouse on his shoulder just to give her a burial (a decent burial is not even a question here).
Surgical strikes are lauded as heroic acts which are ultimately nothing but acts of violence. They kill our people, and we kill theirs, and the ones who kill them for us are heroes. But nobody questions the same heroes about their actions in places like Kashmir or the Northeast. Why are they not questioned when they violently attack the dignity of men, women and children in the name of duty?
Nationalism has become the flavour of the country, to the extent that there’s no scope for any other opinion. “If you’re not with us then you have to be with them”. There isn’t that a where one can be neither and is given the chance to analyse the actions of each party and decide for themselves.
On an unrelated but interesting note, the amygdala is that site in our brain where emotions reside. The amygdala is always in an active state as it is bombarded with information at all times. Machines that work 24/7 eventually decay, similarly, the amygdala fails to process huge quantities of information after a certain point and takes shortcuts to understand things.
Propaganda makes use of the shortcuts the amygdala takes and gets people to react severely/fiercely to threats. Most leaders make use of this lapse to invoke fear, anxiety and uncertainty in our minds. After a point, they have complete control of our minds, so much so that we stop questioning their actions.
We are so blinded by the colour of violence. The kind of violence that’s packaged to invoke feelings of patriotism and pride that we forget real issues that need discussion. We forget Aleppo, Afghanistan, Palestine, South Sudan and many more places that have faced immense destruction due to wars.