A writer’s block I’ve had. To my restlessness, I haven’t been able to write for about three months. Hence, a good time was spent in a lot of observation, lot of witnessing of the events around. There is a lot that has been happening around our consciousness that demands attention. There has been a splurge of controversies and I tell you what, I love disagreements; they strike a discussion amongst people who otherwise flaunt the ‘who cares’ attitude about things that don’t directly matter to them. And sadly, most of these are the literate class.
It has been a while I spoke about my agreements. It has been a while I wrote about my disagreements. No, not that it matters to anyone reading or to them who ignore. I have always believed myself as the one who loves to do social commentary, writes much that practically helps none, or remotely makes any change to the rhetoric cycle of society. But I know for sure, people like me and I somehow create a tiny little thought in the minds of the reader, regardless of its impotency to bring any revolution, I cultivate a rebellious belief and nothing can refute it. We all know, even the worst respects the truth, in private.
I want to speak about the idea of expression; I want to see where I can go wrong in my freedom of speech before you. I want to speak some of democracy; I want to see how it co-exists with fascism. I want to speak about religion and see if it collides with atheism. I want to talk about my free will and intervene it with my instinct. I am sure you know by now that I have a lot to speak about. However, I am going to use the least space to convey it all.
Living in a democratic world has its own catch-22s. Everything today is categorized in rights and wrongs and every right has an opposing wrong and every wrong has its constitutional right. From people to objects, from faiths to facts, freedom of anything has the prepotency to harm the whole perception of democracy vis-à-vis freedom itself. When you believe you are free to do a particular thing, at that same time you are also enslaved by the same idea of freedom that tells you to do that particular thing. Thus, doesn’t freedom itself subjugate its own protocol?
Expression of freedom is the freedom to express
Our voice that exercises freedom of expression is the basic expression of freedom. After ages, freedom of expression has been a point of discussion amongst most of us belonging to the social fraternity of “informed” civilians. What’s interesting about the social media platform is that the socially sensitive stories or social awakening camouflaged videos (products) are covertly and cunningly sold here. Like the Vogue female empowerment video that went haywire. After aiding and abetting perfectionist like singular standards for the womankind that simply caused chaos and self-rejection in millions of women for decades, they stylized the idea of empowerment that didn’t feed the mind but just the ego.
Even more interesting was the debut of the video that was appreciated and was treated like indebtedness to the womankind until some looked beyond the excellent videography and sexiness. And that moment I realized that we are highly opinionated primates, parading our intelligent quotient on the one-way streets of free speech. We often shy away from a dialogue from both ends. Eager to express on a free medium, our opinions come out instinctively like hiccups and then when probed, we swallow water by using the line “everyone is entitled to their opinion”. We seldom think from both sides. Perhaps this is why it is so difficult to play chess alone.
Undeniably, it is a constitutional right of every human being to express, to have an opinion. And the moment you are refused this right, the entire edifice of the constitution comes crumbling. Freedom of expression doesn’t need any consensus. Although it is important to understand that right to freedom of speech is not absolute. One idea can take on any majority as long as it stands for an audit. Also my right to freedom of expression is equal to anyone else’s. When someone is denied the right to speech, I am denied my right to hear. Thus it must be understood that there is an infringement of two rights by one wrong.
Religious exhibitionists, discretion advised
I agree with the Muslim who objects to Hindutva. Just the way I would agree with the Hindu who is against the Islamic. Absolutism whether cultural or moral, is unacceptable and wrong. Any religion unreformed, untouched by reasoning and forbidden to an edit is simply totalitarian. Disagreements will flourish and as long as people agree with other’s disagreements, discussions can prevail. The trouble is that everyone wants to interpret a Muslim but not Islam. Today’s man is governed by faith, a belief system that seems mystical but lacks the propensity to be confronted. “Jesus is the savior” or “There is no god but Allah”, are mere beliefs in-themselves. Religion is for the self and therefore it needs to be polite in public or preferably kept private.
It’s ironical that about 85% of the world follows a faith that seldom involves reasoning. If only man contented every decision with reasoning, there would have been lesser chapters in history. To reason is human and reasoning defeats emotional responses with facts. Instead of moral absolutism, the society needs moral relativism. It differs from culture to society, morality cannot be judged right or wrong.
The religionists believe they cannot be made fun of. Well in the ideal context of the matter, nobody deserves to be ridiculed. Charlie Hebdo set an example for the same. Although I am not in complete support of any free speech absolutist and I criticize it to some extent. However my heart goes out to the ones who perished in this war of expression. Yet again, the people have failed to realize that they have rights, but their beliefs don’t. You cannot harm a human for his opinion, although you can injure his theory with yours. If you have the right to practice religion, he too has the right to refrain. Faith can never get above human rights. Faith believes in evidence that cannot stand scrutiny. Perhaps a good reason why faith must be questioned for rationality to prevail.
And yes, it is high time that atheism gets its share of respect. It’s offensive if you say, “God will save the world”. You are conflicting with my human capacity to survive with logic, reasoning and intellect. It is irony that atheism has to be defined with religion. Atheism is free of the belief in god. And isn’t it common sense that every one is born an atheist? I also don’t agree with those who say all religions are the same. It seems to me a superficial excuse to sustain an alleged harmony. Every religion is a distinctive brand selling respective services to those who would have been fine even without it.
Democracy by the people, plutocracy for the people
Democracy creates the platform for general elections further forming a constitutional government and then forming an oligarchy making fascist decisions, overruling the same idea of democracy, which quintessentially is by the people. I have started to get this feeling that the ruling government thinks that Steve Jobs’ quote that people often do not know what they want applies in all walks of life. They banned the consumption of beef and snatched people’s right to choose what to eat. They altered their livelihood by seizing their employment. They don’t eat beef for their reasons. And they also want others to not eat for their reasons.
Hinduism is a non-institutionalized religion. Meaning, it doesn’t have to be interpreted in relation to other religions. The common man’s life revolves around survival however often gets incapacitated in between the rights and wrongs. They ban movies that express creative freedom because some clerics disapprove of them. These geniuses tactfully find disapproving content but never try to fathom the imperative context. They banned homosexuality and some even called it a disease. Giving cultural pretexts, they humiliated the gay and lesbian community calling their act unnatural, thus not good. Rapists and pedophiles too have sex organs with an unrestrained libido, that is natural, but is that good?
We are culturally conditioned to be intolerant
Far worse than the surging violence, the world suffers more with the escalating intolerance. People tolerate riots for their rights, but do not tolerate other’s rights for their wrongs. Intolerance is a cultural conditioning that is being inculcated in the young minds and the world will eventually succumb to it and perish with empty hands. You killed the man because he protected his belief in the minority. Whereas you want to be protected because you have the same faith in the majority. Convenient?
Conflicts begin with sermons of mass destruction; weapons have always been secondary. Who are these right-wing visionaries who assume the world is a better place by their impression of society? What a child must learn, how a woman must dress, where lies the sanctity of culture, who must one idolize and why should independent art need someone else’s consent. These reactionary conservative ignorant mob needs to check with their sensibilities for once. Everything nude is not porn. Everything against is not wrong. And not having a logical answer doesn’t make the question ridiculous. Being blinded by their ideological masturbation; they have ruined their capacity to see the truth of existentialism.
We are an unhappy race; whether you have the money or you don’t. Whether you have the intelligence or you don’t. A generation that suffers from religion; you educate yourself with logic and reasoning but swear by some fictitious faith all your life. We are a generation disillusioned by technology. We think better science is mankind’s progress when we still cannot get over a history. When Robert Oppenheimer developed the first atomic bomb, he realized that his achievement simply made him the destroyer of the worlds. Martin Luther King saw a far-fetched dream for the children of this world. The colour of their skin still decides their content of their character. We are disenchanted by the corporate political ideas that overlook humanity. In some parts of India, it is easier to find Coke than water.
There is a considerable generation gap between the youth and their parents, a generation gap that almost turned over a culture in the interim. The problem with the older generation is that they think the new generation is born rebellious and has transformed the idea of livelihood, marriage, religion, social behavior and so on. I disagree. We haven’t determined or defined a new meaning to it. But the only reason why we do things differently is because we have seen you do a few vulnerable things that were somehow miscalculated, misjudged, overvalued then, and therefore the consequences of unpleasant residue. This generation is simply the regeneration of your generation that silently degenerated over time. This is a gradual progression; we too will perish before the succeeding age.
Thank you for your patience dear reader. These ten minutes of your time are priceless if you have somehow empathized with the said. A spiritual guru I once met at the Iskon wore a Tissot on his wrist. My mother thinks it has been 13 years and Salman Khan should be let go off, it was just an accident. My father believes it is commendable to walk without slippers to far away temples. Wisdom might be dying with each generation. Chastity belts are only for women. Men offer themselves in charity. Some morals and rationales have become arbitrary. People endorse them by their whims. Who is wrong and who is right always remains an unsolved mystery.
Can I smoke while I pray, I asked the priest. Never, he said with hesitation. Can I pray while I smoke sir, I asked again. Sure, he said with certainty.
There is chaos in my mind. I am stuck between the wrongs and the rights.
It was an interesting read with the start of the day GC… Very nicely written, I loved the punches in between :) and my favorite line : We seldom think from both sides. Perhaps this is why it is so difficult to play chess alone.
Thank you for this astounding post GC! The second last para is the most beautiful conclusion to the entire article. :)
In between the wrongs and the rights lies a choice for me to ”be”..existence precedes the essence of being. Thank you for helping me make the right choice! Inspired, as always mentor (Y)
in case you wondering why I am commenting – I am blogger myself & I love to read other interesting (esp. different point of view blogs, different that mine) blogs.
we are not culturally intolerant. your statement is factually incorrect. If i may speak of India & Indians, we have never attacked any other country in the past 1000 years. That itself speaks of our tolerance. India is probably the only country where multiple religions can co-exist relatively peacefully (India is the largest Hindu nation & 2nd largest Muslim nation).
We are the race which gave the world Buddha & concept of Nirvana (and recent studies show Indians are ‘happier’ than many developed nations)
Like “not every nude is porn” – similarly, not every Right Wing is bad or conservative!
Great read though!
Intolerance is not restricted to differences alone. Sometimes intolerance emerges from unity as well. Culture, religion, nationality comes much later. What comes before is how full of acceptance are we to tolerate and realise that we are divided within. I wonder if “intolerance” only means “violent attacks” and to invade “another” country. Then what are riots, civil wars, ethnic conflicts exactly? How do you evaluate “intolerance” to state that it’s “factually incorrect” without stating any facts that exclude even one single relevant instance? India is a race of much more and older than Budhha. It predates Christianity and Islam too and any school textbook can give you the rest details. India is also home to Bodhi Bala Sena and religious extremism, so please don’t shy away from these facts too.
And if every Right Wing is not conservative then why in the first place is it called the Right Wing? Perhaps time to change the meaning of the same.
Thank you though!
While trying my best without getting into a debate – here are my 2 cents –
‘Intolerance’ the way expressed in your article, is shown in a rather negative or if i may, sad/unwanted light. ‘Intolerance’ may not be such a bad thing after all. If the black community was tolerant of the oppression against them, we would probably have slavery in some western countries even now. It depends in what context one sees it. When it comes to religion, maybe intolerance is not such a good idea but, when it comes to Human Rights, fairness & Justice, intolerance against the one oppressing is in fact welcome.
Regarding India, precisely – India, her existence & culture predates all of the Abrahamic religions. India, is truly, in every sense of the world – unique, and probably exceptions are the norm. Having said that, in regards to “tolerance”, India leads the world literally. Be it in regard to religion, culture, lifestyle & even Law (we have a separate personal law for Muslims and not a uniform civil code).
I’d rather not believe the history (read mumbo-jumbo) projected in our text books. I recall, one govt. approved text book calls Bhagat Singh a terrorist & one has a chapter on Barkha Dutt as an ideal & good journalist (Neera Radia tapes anyone?).
Right Wing ‘inherently’ does not mean conservative, what i’d rather use is ‘Nationalist’.
I guess, I drew into the debate! :)
The title of the article reads In Between the Rights and the Wrongs. Intolerance expressed in my article is my opinion towards a particular subject. An expression of how I see it at this point of time. You chose to see it negatively, at your point of time referring to your subject. In the core of the subject, and as I read you more by your comment, I realised we both somewhere are on the same page. It only seems you reacted to a particular instance whereas I wrote it intimately interconnected with the flow of my ideas. :)
Regarding India, I in every way feel proud of everything you said and stand by it. But I shall chose to express my pride in a different article with a different context. But with an anomaly, I do not feel good about not having a uniform civil code. Where you chose to call India being tolerant and then cite the Muslim personal law, you are disputing against the idea of equality. And I believe equality is a good thing, right? But again, it depends in what context ones sees it, if you may say. Thus I want to bring the title of the article into play twice again.
I’d rather not believe the history (read mumbo-jumbo) projected in our text books. Essentially this is where we sail together but again, wasn’t history written by the rich and elite, like Nehru who professed he wrote Discovery of India and some called Vasco da Gama a discoverer?’
Haha! No, there isn’t any debate. Only opinions that I believe were mutually and tolerantly respected.