Sunday, December 07, 2008

Do We Bring Terror Upon Ourselves?

It's been a week since the Mumbai terror attacks. Politicians have been themselves, indulging in cheap-giri, media pundits, aam aadmi and every Tom, Dick and Harry have had their opinion on the way forward and about those responsible, Pakistan as usual is protesting its "innocence" and the involvement of "non-state actors" (a cunning new phrase), the Indian government is panicked since elections are round the corner and has done some eye-wash shuffling, foreign countries are somewhere in the mix and trying to further their own causes through statements supporting one country or the other. Its a live drama of Shakespearean proportions and since all the worlds a stage and we are but its actors (stately or otherwise), where is the audience??? Well, let me be one here.

Nothing that meets the eye is really what it seems. Any incident/happening/event cannot be the result of a single act/provocation/event. For a moment, let us rollup and look at events from a macroscopic view, instead of taking a focus on 1 city, 1 people.

What just happened? Some people armed with weapons, killed people. This template can be applied across a host of countries in different regions around the world, a different (or same) people each time, with different people at the right and wrong ends. What is different is same.

To this template, let me now add the following actors: Al Qaeda, George Bush, Musharraf, Narendra Modi, Osama bin Laden, the Israelis, The Irish Republican Army, Iraq, Jemaah Islamiyah, Inter Services Intelligence, L.K. Advani, the Palestinians, Tony Blair, Lashkar e Tayyiba aka Jamaat ul Daawa, Students Islamic Movement of India, Indian Mujahideen, the Central Intelligence Agency, Moses.

Now you tell me, who is on the right and wrong side of the gun barrel amongst them?

If your answer is A, there are counter arguments. If your answer is B, there are counter arguments. And if your answer is "I cant say for sure, but Id like to find out", then you are in for a cynicism inducing day with Wikipedia.

If killing of humans is a sin, then we have been sinners since time immemorial. Right from Kane and Abel till present day, bloodshed and violence has been a hallmark of the human race. From the deliverance of the Jews by Moses through the Purges of Christianity to the demolition of the Babri Masjid and Gujarat Riots of 2002, we have been sinners, directly or indirectly. I put my mind through times past and there is not a single age or period in which I can say that the world has been a safe place to live in.

Man has been fighting for land, for respect, for ego, for identity, for economic gains, for religion from the time we remember. The fighting has not been restricted to any religion, any particular race or any particular place. It has been a constant throughout history, with pauses till it resumes again with renewed vigour.

"Terrorists strike ___________." You can fill the blank with Mumbai, Islamabad, New York, Madrid, London, Dar-e-Salam, Beslan or any other city in the world. The reason you can do that is the same reason it happened in Mumbai: Someone was dissatisfied.

Why were they dissatisfied?

In the case of Mumbai, reports say that the operatives were brainwashed with images and speeches by leaders in the Babri Masjid demolition and Gujarat riots. Now, how many of you agree with what happened in Ayodhya or in Gujarat? And if you feel it was wrong, then why arent the "actors" in those instances behind bars? Why arent they penalized? Why are they still in power (of all places) and felicitated and respected by certain communities of people for their actions. What is the difference between organized, state-supported killing of civilians of certain communities in Gujarat and an internationally known genocide called the Holocaust?

People cheered and whistled when a politician was gunned down in Rang De Basanti. People said they would love to do the same. So when a youth takes matters into his own hands and kills to make a point, hasn't society prepared the criminal? Through its actions, through its callousness, through its alignment/acceptance and lack of critique for other criminals who are on the right side of the law today.

There have been eye-wash investigations which have let off Advani and Modi scot-free and put them beyond reproach. So, if an individual (through choice or coercion takes to the gun to level the scores against those he considers representatives of that line of thought) how does one judge. Both past and present actions?

Our attitudes, our belief systems, our values. These shape our thinking and our responses. An act of reaching out to a fellow human being needs only truthfulness of action and purity of thought. Unfortunately, in the extremely insecure and selfish times from past to present, that simple requirement gets lost in myraid confusions.

But the next time one hears of the denouncement of a race, a religion, a people, a thought or indulges in it oneself, please remember that harming some other person never brings true prosperity or security for oneself. If you are stronger than someone at the moment, someone will be stronger than you the next.

Next time you beat up kids from Bihar for writing Railway exams in Mumbai, know that your children could die in the next attack on Mumbai. Why? Because you yourself set the wheels of hate into motion. And hate foments terror. That is the straightest line of derivation. Everything else is an add-on as per the circumstances.

In the context of this discussion, the important question isnt whether we bring terror upon ourselves? The answer can be Yes/No/Maybe, depending on where you come from.

The most important question is whether we have a choice to be terror-free. And the answer to that is a resounding YES.

1 comment:

FailedGod said...

The only saving thought in the world is rationality and truly educated minds who are able to discern between right and wrong.

However, if such cases of isolating somebody and making him watch provocative videos happen, probably even the saner minds will get polluted. It's easier to claim to be incorruptible than to be.
It is where the need for stern actions against the perpetrators of such disgusting ideologies come into need.