What is it that which drives us? Probably, a great line for a hit movie. Live your dreams and follow your passion. A friend once sent me a video of some motivational speaker, probably self-appointed, who said that he didn’t care whether you are smart or dumb, strong or weak, rich or poor; if you want something, go and get it. That motivational speaker was a straight white man.
We live in a world that has a vast pool of ideas, but somehow they are widely distributed and wildly disorganised. There are so many initiatives that people want to take and people do take, but they just don’t seem enough. And when they actually do start making something beneficial, they have to face administration, governance, rudimentary judiciary and social injustice. No matter how much you can ignore the facts but it is a reality that the world is not a great place for women, for the LGBTQ+ community and for any minority in major economies of the world. There is discrimination, and we are not doing much about it.
The one important thing that led us to civilization and growth was our thinking. If we hadn’t thought of developing ourselves, we never would have. Today, that thinking is corrupted, polluted and radical against any progressive change. If you have any doubt over the narrow-mindedness of today’s world, have a look at those who run the world’s biggest economies.
An orange haired man who is accused of harassment, who openly broadcasts his hate against the second largest religion of the world, and is cheered for doing so by people who are adamant on their idea of a great country, is the President of the most powerful nation of the world. Another man, who has no orange hair but loves the colour in his attire, a childhood member of an organisation whose ideas, coincidentally, resonate with those of Hitler and Mussolini heads the fastest growing economy and the largest democracy of the modern world. It is interesting to note that he accused his predecessor of keeping his mouth shut and he himself never speaks against mob lynching against the people of the second largest religion in the world. One may wonder if he even recognises the acts of mob lynching, killings of journalists (who didn’t want govt. pay), abduction and rape of little girls (one reported to have occurred inside a temple), as crimes. Though, he does speak a lot of black days of past and his struggle as a tea vendor during his early days. Many tea vendors still suffer, but there is an army of true believers of this man’s (who was supposed to be accused of riots that occurred under his rule in Gujarat) who consider him a vision of good days. If you would move towards north from the largest democracy and the most unsafe nation for women (according to Thomson Reuters), you’ll find the countries of Marx and Mao, where in the name of socialism people don’t have any semblance to complete independence.
Today, I live in a country that is not safe for women and study among people who use ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ as an insult for the sake of their own amusement. I am unable to trust the media because somehow, almost all of them seem to support the ruling party and its saffron agenda. The leaders of the country who once were active student politicians today advocate jailing of students who protest peacefully in their own university campuses. There exists an army of online trolls who consider themselves as protectors of their holy religion and their motherland, and openly (for lack of a better word) bash every person who dares speak against the government. We considered a man, who thought of caste system as a perfect thing to exist and believed that everyone should work according to their caste, as the father of our nation. They use the names of great leaders who fought for our independence as cover for their agendas of making India a Hindu Rashtra. The people who were chosen as a public representative to the government openly support killers of liberal journalists and carry out rallies in support of rape accused (their excuse was that rape accused was a Hindu and the victim was a Muslim girl, her age of just eight didn’t matter to them). But there is still hope.
Last night, I watched Hannah Gadsby’s Netflix special, “Nanette”. Towards the end of her set, she said something very important and fitting to today’s world. She said that anger, just as laughter is infectious and will spread like fire, and it was not her right to do so just because she can. Unfortunately, lately, the leader of two important democracies of the world have leaders who have an army of blind supporters who are fuelled by anger against anyone they deem a threat to THEIR culture and THEIR country. It is everyone’s duty and most importantly of those who are privileged and do not have to face the atrocities of the society to understand the people around them and embrace our differences. If we could just embrace our differences and lend an ear to hear their stories, we will realize that we are not much different from one another. That we must let go of any rudimentary thinking about gender rigidity, patriarchal superiority, religious insecurities, and communal hatred.
We are a nation of 1.2 billion people. These people have their own personalities. Imagine, if people who have access to education actually spent time reading and understanding the struggles, the challenges and the adversities that are faced by different sects of the society, and then collectively work towards the betterment of it. The one lesson that we should learn from the history is that blind following of people with dangerous and violent mindset has never resulted in any good and it never will. The basic essence of a democracy is to question. To raise doubt and suggest improvements. Today, even this fundamental factor of democracy is in danger.
India is not just a country (and this might sound pretentious, it isn’t though) but an idea. For years, we have taken pride in aphorisms of our unity in diversities, of embracing our differences and loving everyone without any malice. Somewhere down the line, we lost the meaning of this and protests became acts of sedition and patriotism became nationalism and dissent became anti-nationalism. I would recommend everyone to watch “Nanette” as it speaks of feminism, the malice of homophobia, the struggles of minorities in a much different perspective, and when you’re done watching it, spend some time reading about the struggles of all the minorities which still ‘dare’ to exist in our country which seems to be driven on its way to madness and chaos. Try to understand things from perspectives that are not yours and if you’re unable to do so, ask someone to help. People will always tell you their story if you’ll lend them an ear.
When I was a child, during morning assemblies, we sang in chorus, “… Mazhab nahi sikhaata, aapas me bair karna…. Saare Jahaan se achcha, Hindustan Hamaara…”. Its high time that we start believing in it as well.