“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis” – Dante Alighieri
Every time I read this statement a sense of regret dawns upon me. It tends to evoke the guilt accumulated so far in my journey of life that had been cleverly obscured by the denial mechanism of my brain. The guilt of being – neutral! For every Indian middle class, this inherent sense of neutrality flows in their blood. We are implicitly taught not to take sides, even if we can clearly demarcate between the wrong and the right.
The credit behind the propagation of this mystical conviction could be given to the years of suppression and injustice promptly served to the right-doers. Be it Ravana or Duryodhana, they led a merry life until the climax of the story, but the protagonists of these great epics have paid years of exile as the sacrifice for not being neutral. The wisdom these great epics impart to every generation that has revered them has explicitly been-‘Dharma always triumphs’. This truth has only been partially emanated, the actual version being “Dharma always triumphs if taken its side!”
The first incident that initiated change into my thinking process was when my Class 8 moral science teacher taught me the story of “The great disciple: Ekalavya”. This story left me desolate and to contemplate its moral – “A culminated level of a student’s dedication to his guru.” Being born in the 21st century, it was not an easy task to digest the “overwhelming gratitude” the story portrayed. I rushed to my father with teeming curiosity and a myriad of thoughts. I searched his eyes for an appropriate reciprocation when a smile slowly spread across his face. He replied:
“When Vysa Maharshi wrote the Mahabharata, his holy intention was to enlighten the mankind on numerous life circumstances through storytelling so as to diminish the complexity. He, in fact, did the lighter part of the work and left the remaining diligent tasks into the readers’ able hands. He required the readers to differentiate or comprehend between the right and wrong and to understand situations wherein one should not let go the Dharma! Vsya has left spaces after every major incident that has occurred, and these spaces hold significant importance. They are to be filled by each reader by providing a conclusion on how effectively justice was served in accordance with their perspective of the event.
He aimed to cultivate the habit of thinking amongst the readers. Progressing further, the story has been woven to push readers to the limits of their thinking capacities. However, in the contemporary era, this has been largely forgotten. Children are being forced to evaluate the tales from a single perspective and are hindered from making conclusions. Therefore, what I intend to say is that “The Mahabharata” is phenomenal and can be equated to supremacy as it allows the readers to develop the ability to absorb and to reach conclusions in the context of serving justice, thereby engaging in ethical decision making.”
His answers, to me, were like the first drops of rain in the indigent desert which raved to curb curiosity. Ever since then, I began to evaluate any stories/incidents based on my conscientiousness which in turn has assisted me in taking effective decisions in life.
Coming back to neutrality, I have decided to overlook the preconceived notion, and to look beyond!
On November 8, 2016, one major incident had turned the country upside down and had a devastating effect on people’s life. “Demonetisation had struck”. A large section of the country went against this decision and called it a “monumental blunder”. In my eyes this incident made me see an empowering leader! –Narendra Modi. He has topped my list of one of the most inspiring leaders India has ever witnessed – for he chose not to be neutral.
Corruption had its roots deep in our economy and was slowly permeating into our social lives. It was indeed imperative to take a disruptive step against it. The Modi government had executed it in the most conscientious manner. There was to be an inevitable initial struggle. The impacts of demonetisation are well explained with the following example. An injection that instils a temporary yet excruciating pain is administered to cleanse the body of all the harmful bacteria. However, we would curse the doctor whilst in pain, only to thank him a billion times for the rewards later.
In a nutshell, my perpetual notion has been clearly one thing which I wish to express through the lines of my favourite fictional character, Hercule Poirot, “It is the brain, the little grey cells on which one must rely. One must seek the truth within – not without.”