What Can We Learn From The Age-Long ‘Intolerance’ Debate In India

Posted by kamana singh in Society
December 13, 2017

The debates around intolerance still echo in my mind, reminding me of a time when ‘intolerance’ felt like the most used word from the dictionary – the same book which also contained words like sense, brain, patience, work, sleep, etc.

It still makes me question my own decisions about expressing my views on a current topic, hoping nobody gets even slightly offended by what I express. Because if my opinion matters, so does yours. So does your opinion about my opinion. So does your hitting me below the belt – the entirely senseless structure of words you put together in the name of opinion. So does your creative ideas about religion, class, race and gender.

Opinions. Just like I have opinions about the kind of entertainment offered to me. For instance, I hate shows/films which show snakes converting into humans because my brain cannot process it.

Aren’t opinions highly subjective and also subject to change for that matter? If I feel red is too bold a colour someday, and walk out in a red dress the next day, has there not been a visible change in my opinion? If I feel Mr Tharoor has a great vocabulary one day, but I soon realise that he could use a dictionary while writing just like me on some other day, has my opinion not outgrown my moments of being awestruck by him and feeling hopeless at the same time about my own vocabulary?

Opinions are subjective, the subject being us who are equally subjective and almost spontaneous on various days. Intolerance, sadly, is still a nightmare to our country that tries its best to be sensible enough, following the cult culture of discussions and debates.

We do not acknowledge that maybe, we do not have enough resources or knowledge to afford an opinion of tolerance or intolerance over issues that do not concern an individual alone. They are a product of the circular life that we live these days and are a matter of concern to the society at large. Thus, being tolerant to some things and intolerant to a lot of other things without thinking about both sides of the argument and understanding where those arguments are actually coming from is a loophole in this age of media that we live in.

We try to express our opinions and want to be heard. We want our voices to matter. So, we start tweeting, posting and discussing about an issue. This process may lead us to some conclusion and we may form an opinion by the end of the debate but on a personal level, how right is it to pass on information about something that we ourselves are not informed enough about?

We, the youth of this country (that apparently includes Rahul Gandhi) are the stakeholders of this media age, assuming that is what one can refer to this anxious, outrageous age. We share our opinions and we form our opinions on a social media platform. When distorted information is put out for viewing to an audience that is equally uninformed, what happens is that a long chain of distortions is passed on.

This further causes another uniformed person to form their opinion based on faulty information. But when this is in regard to a fresh debate, an issue about which everybody is equally interested to talk about, the chances of being offended are certainly larger and the chances of miscommunication are certainly greater.

What we can learn from the debate about intolerance is to not be intolerant. To not reject every other comment that comes your way by viewing it as the narrow understanding of some uninformed person or just another enthusiastic opinion which came out of somebody’s brain. You want to try doing that. Start with this article.