It was said the “World will end”! Probably nobody ever thought about the magnitude of the statement. It was not the world itself in the physical sense but it probably was referring to erosion of cultural and human values – the compassion towards fellow human beings, the core human values and the sheer lack of patience and virtue.
Month of December 2012 and how it affected me:
This whole month of December 2012 was really painful. At one point I stopped reading the newspapers, stopped watching the news channels, stopped discussing about it with anyone and actually stopped people from talking about it in my presence. It was probably not the wise thing to do, but it was just overwhelming with so much negativity going on and it was getting toxic to the extent it was beginning to affect my spirit, my ability to focus on what I was doing all stemming from my anger at my own helplessness to be able to make a difference. As much as I tried to stay away from it the more I was hearing, as much as I assured myself things will get better, it only got worse. I was no more the person I was which became more evident to others than to me. It was all very depressing! I am sure it is not just me but thousands of other Indians and others across the globe that must have been feeling the same or much worse. I decided to put down my thoughts as a way to positively and constructively drive my anger and disappointment. So here it is. If there is at least one person who reads this and takes a vow to make this place a better one, I will feel much better.
Why? What is causing this?
Before we try to jump into what can be done, it is imperative at this point that we also try to understand what is causing this in the first place? Because chasing the wrong problem will not help us solve it. As much as we say the victims are one amongst us, it is important to face the bitter truth that the perpetrators of crime are also one of us. That being the case, we as a society have blood stains in our hands and have been a reason directly or indirectly for all these crimes. There is no point blaming just the government and its agencies for all the incidents. We the people, the media, the agencies of the government have all been hand in gloves in letting happen what has happened. This is not something new today, as Aurobindo wrote on August 21,1893 when returned to India at the age of 20.
Our actual enemy is not any force exterior to ourselves, but our own crying weaknesses, our cowardice, our selfishness, our hypocrisy, our purblind sentimentalism. 1
In the hyper-kinetic world that we live in, everyone craves for recognition, attention, care and love. Our lives have become more materialistic and less holistic. We fail to see the people and their souls instead decide to see their position in the society and our materialistic gains from that. We have ceased to respect people as people but begun objectifying people as a means to selfish gains. There is a mad rush for wealth, fame, power and what not and in the process the value for one’s principles, values and virtues are lost and that vacuum is giving space to demonic thoughts!
The media for their part knowingly or unknowingly glorify the criminal’s and help them get their shot at stardom. Then they keep moving on to news stories that kept their TRP running and would cover a story if and only if it would generate the TRPs and the necessary sponsorship to keep their boats afloat. Such is the sorry state that the media house is just another business where profit and loss statements are driving the content rather than the collective responsibility they carry towards the society. To all the Rajdeep Sardesai’s and Arnab Goswamis’s trying to keep a story alive for a few more days is not going to help achieve any action on ground. Media houses have to completely rework the way news items are being gathered and reported. There is more to news reporting than the “breaking news”, or to get in front of the cameras from on site and shout at the top of the voice, or to sit in the studio with a bunch of people arguing over a ton of things which translate to nothing, or to simply spread negativism around which makes people angry and brings down the energy levels of the entire society. The print media are not far behind either! Right now I hate to go pick up the newspaper every morning.
The government and its agencies:
I think it is a waste of time to even expect our government and its agencies to deliver anything given the lackadaisical nature of people and also the media houses of this country. Understood, the government is not doing enough, but when has it in the last 65 years of Indian Independence? Now that it is clear that the change is not flowing top-down it is time for us to take the change bottom up.
What can I do? What can we do?
That brought me to the question, what can I do? What can we do? Right now, a lot of negative energy is being created and channelized into protests, prayers, memorials, candle light vigils and tons of post of social networks like Facebook, twitter etc., etc., The media houses do their part by inviting guests to talk about the things and end up raising the decibels in every home ending up causing more headaches. While all of these have a lot of potential and I respect people taking part in these shows of solidarity to the victim and their families, I get the feeling none of this is translating into anything actionable on ground to prevent these from happening again and make it a better place to live in.
If people take some solace from posting to Facebook or taking to the road to protest, so be it, but if they really believe that this will trigger a change in the society then everyone is going to be plain disappointed! I saw a lot of posts on the day of the incident and a couple of days after that and on the black Saturday with messages like RIP, condolences and even some with crude language. I can understand the anger, but all of this is just negative channelizing of the anger. Also, all that is gone a few days after and we all get back living our lives believing all is well; while it is not. It is just a time bomb waiting to tick! We need that anger; we need that disappointment; all to be channelized in a positive manner resulting in concrete steps to curtail such activities. So what can we do?
As people: As a common man we cannot pass new laws, we cannot enforce laws, we cannot change the world overnight. But we can do some of the following:
- Teach the next generation to respect Women and people in general.
- Teach the kids the ill effects of violence and hatred in any form.
- More importantly get them to “think” rationally. Help them see the big picture and not be narrow minded to what they just see or experience.
- Channelize their failures into positive energy that will help them take on the different obstacles in life and carve success stories.
- Include such horrific stories of in their syllabus and give them a perspective, today’s younger generation are smart enough that they can differentiate between the good and the bad and this will help building strong values at a very young age which is the key to a person’s integrity.
This way at least the coming generations will behave more rationally and don’t turn into demons and devils at the slightest taste of bitterness in their lives.
To try and address what is happening today, we have to take a bigger role than being a passive spectator. We need to
- Take a vow that we will never be passive spectators to these unjust incidents if it happens in front of us.
- Never encourage incorrect thoughts or words against women or anyone for that matter from people we know even if it is just for fun. A very common mistake the society commits is to laugh at lewd remarks and statements at women or other people which gives the impression it is a funny or a brave thing to do. They are not funny, they are not brave! They are hurtful and exhibit cowardice! This is what is commonly referred to as harassment or eve-teasing. Take a vow to oppose any such statements even the slightest ones.
- For some reason I cannot comprehend, our society is not broad minded towards woman! I am totally ashamed and disappointed at this but that is the bitter truth. Most matured of men and women get shaky when having to deal with anything to do with women, be it looking at a relationship, their success stories or anything for that matter. Whatever the reason might be: insecurity, jealousness or even the fox’s story of the fruits are sour, this has to change! There is no other way! A society cannot progress when it is narrow-minded! It just cannot! See the big picture! Be holistic in your views not materialistic!
- Shun the media houses that do not do a good job at news reporting. Let them know, that quality of content is important, show them that shouting in the studio and reporting racy news doesn’t necessarily mean better TRPs. Turn your TV sets off if that is what it takes. Once the message reaches I am sure we will get better content.
- We probably have a chance only once in 5 years to have our say on the government. Make sure that doesn’t go wasted. We research for hours together before we want to buy anything as simple as a cell phone to things as big as a house. But do we research before casting our votes to a candidate? Have we checked how many criminal cases are pending against the candidates and what type of cases those are? We better begin doing that, it might not take more than possibly a couple of hours to see what is going on with the candidates in our constituency.
- Finally, make good use of the social media. In the current circumstances, with the lack for good media houses, social media can be a very powerful medium if used properly. Agreed, there is a mismatch in the society in terms of wealth, power and fame. Let us not knowingly or unknowingly enlarge this problem through the social media. Share good positive things, positive energy is contagious. Refrain from sharing negative thoughts, negative energy is toxic!
As Media people:
- The media today has a good financial backing and far and wide network coverage. They have access to information which is not available to general public. The technology has evolved so much that the media if they wish to, can put them to good use. If Obama’s campaign could use data to find out what people wanted to hear and target the audience accordingly, I am sure we can use the same data to find out what is causing this behavioral anomaly in these perpetrators of crime. That will go a long way in understanding the “Problem” and then in turn actually “solve” it. I am sure there are a number of NGOs who will be willing to partner in such studies for the welfare of the society. This will be quality content from the media houses. This will be positive use of their reach into the society.
- Stop giving bigger than life coverage to these perpetrators of crime. You are not shaming these criminals in any way, in fact the exact opposite is happening. Instead focus on the success stories of the victims who have fought back into their lives. That will indeed shame the criminals and spread positive energy in the society.
As Government Agencies:
Again, I am not going to waste my time on this one, but if there is one thing I wish for, a little bit more sincerity towards the work government agencies do. Just that will go a long way in making this a better place to live.
1 – Thanks to my friend Sudharshun for his post on FB for this quote from Aurobindo!