Monday, August 11, 2003
SOCIAL DISTRESS : The killing fields
There is an uproar in the literary community where the 92-year old Janapith Award winner, Rajendra Shah made the following comments -
... he said: "I don't feel sad for whatever happened...These happenings (last year's communal violence) don't hold any significance for me...
Perhaps, he was misquoted? Perhaps, he was prodded into commenting? Perhaps, he spoke too rashly? Perhaps he spoke from his heart?
The average person isn't passionate about religion. No sir! The average person would rather live his life, earn his rozi roti (daily bread), provide for his small family and die a natural death at a ripe old age. The average person might not even pray to his gods more than 4-5 times a year and that too at religious occasions. Yet when the average man is threatened by an enemy he doesn't know of, an enemy that doesn't work on the same ethical plane as he does, doesn't care for the rules of society which he lives by, and find his religion threatened and his family under danger simply because of the religion he was born into, the average man cannot help but take notice. And take notice he does. He goes by the Bush doctrine of "pre-emptive strikes". But while Bush does it to safeguard the interests of a nation, the average man does it to safeguard his family from that impending attack from someone whom he's lived across the street from, for 30 or more years.
He turns from that peace-loving neighbour next door, to the vengeful, blood-thirsty religious fanatic. He sleeps, oh so watchfully, dreaming of his peaceful neighbour storming into his house and killing his family. He dreams of his place of business being burned down by a rioting mob. He dreams of the workers, he has employed in his small shop, sleeping in the back being burnt alive. He dreams no more.
I sit here, in my A/C room and my Herman Miller chair, condoning the violence, disgusted by the senselessness of the killing, criticizing the inferiority of the people and the pettiness of their crimes, preaching that Godhra wasn't what religion was all about. Yet Rajendra Shah got it right when he said "Religion is not taught through preaching but through killing."
Hatred breeds hatred. Hatred breeds killing. Killing breeds hatred. Killing breeds killing.
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