Last Tuesday, 132 children were killed in Peshawar at an army school. This incident triggered a deluge of heartbroken utterances and chest-beatings on the internet over the next hours. Because of course – this is such a shameful and heinous blot on this pristine, humane world of ours – we cannot help exclaiming our utter shock at the very brutal unexpectedness of it.
Enough joking, now? This incident was like what, a black mark on a blackboard?
On November 22, a Cleveland cop shot a 12-year-old Black boy in the belly because he was carrying a plastic toy gun in a park. The boy died next day.
Karyn Washington was a 22-year-old woman who recognized the self-esteem issues that many Black women have to go through – because our culture considers fair-skin a vital parameter for physical beauty. She wanted to do something to help these women and extend support, and she set up a website called For Brown Girls, and subsequently encouraged many through her excellent work. On April 8, 2014, Karyn killed herself. Reasons were deep sense of loss and depression.
Brototi Das, a school teacher from East Midnapore, committed suicide by dousing herself with kerosene and setting fire to it, on November 12, 2014. She did this because she could not bear any longer the humiliation by her family because she was ‘dark’ and so ‘no one would marry her’.
This week, a girl named Elizabeth Lowe, 14 years of age, killed herself in a park because she was afraid of the reaction from her parents if they found out she was homosexual.
No time like the present, right. Today, eight children, aged between 18 months and 15 years, were found stabbed to death in Cairns, Australia. Their adult brother found them.
One salient feature of human beings, I am told, is that they have the concept of History. One of the most recent instances of how man’s capacity for Faith is used to harness his capacity for destruction can be found in Hitler, when he said – ‘Any violence which does not spring from a spiritual base, will be wavering and uncertain.’ This man knew what was up. He knew that world runs on the fuel of Goodness to emit thick fumes of Devilry. And that has been happening with us since the birth of human civilization, I daresay.
As far as I know, a terrorist is someone who uses terror or fear to run people and stuff to get to his ends. And from this simple, elegant definition, I can find a whole gallery of ‘terrorists’ coming to my mind. I find among them all the religious bosses who shepherd their herds through the power of fear. I find among them governments who have entire organizations who keep the masses in check and in line solely through the power of fear. Interesting point: a regular guy does not get reassured at first if approached by a policeman, he gets nervous.
Fear of failure leads to hundreds of suicide by students who get depressed or afraid of facing life after a bad marksheet. Fear of being different and in fact inability to be ‘normal’ results in countless tragedies everywhere all the time.
Studies run by scientists all over the world indicate that the world is going to be a living hell within mere decades. Drinking water will be scarce, energy will be dear, food will be harder to produce, living space will not be available, the economy will collapse. And then people will wish that they never lived to see such times. I see a confused complication here. We don’t know what we want, we don’t know what to do.
The degradation of the human condition has resulted from global trends of expansion, harvesting of resources, capitalism, nationalism, – just to name a few. We don’t mind this slow-poisoning of the world, but we mind shooting people up, is that it?
Hundreds of children in Western Africa are engaged by cocoa farms as labourers. They are mostly aged between 12 to 16, and work under extremely dangerous conditions from six in the morning till evening, and still battle hard with abject poverty. The nature of their work puts them to risk of mutilation and death all the time. This practice is very widely spread, and is instrumental to the production of chocolate, which is loved by the whole civilized world. Thousands of boxes of delicious chocolate are sold every day to celebrate love, and this chocolate comes from child-slave labour. You think people are not outraged due to lack of being informed? Alright, now you have been informed. Are you going to do something about it? No. Because ‘lack of information’ is no longer an excuse in this age. What we lack is not awareness, – what we lack is empathy, what we lack is humanity.
The Taliban is a second-rate terrorist organization at best. This killing was a cry for attention, more than anything else. They wanted to scream to the big guns that run the world – ‘Hey, we are here TOO! We got guns TOO!!!’ They even stated their intentions clearly. All this outrage, all this bereaved sigh-storms – these rivers of tears – this is exactly what they wanted. They want the world to talk about this, they want us to talk talk talk – give them the attention. They know very well that killing 132 innocent children will get them just the attention they seek.
So how does this world work?
The real answer will yield itself if we ask a different question – how do WE work?
We, humans, we are a hypocritical, complacent, self-preserving, sniveling lot. We always want a scapegoat. We are blaming the Taliban and expressing our horror at their act – as if they leaped out of some underground Hell just the other day. Seriously, people? These men were born on earth, among us, in human society. You know what, this whole Islamic Jihad, this Christian Crusade, this Hindu Dharmayuddh – everything was made by us, by all of us. And none accepts the blame, because of course – what’s everybody’s business is nobody’s business.
And thus rolls on history.
There are a couple of seats for the ‘handicapped’ on public buses. These are not for general usage, they are reserved for physically challenged people. The message is – we should not deprive these people just because of the fact that they are incapable of ‘earning’ seats themselves. We should arrange for them too, for the sake of humanity. This is the sentiment. But if this is humane behaviour, and this kind of behaviour is to be practiced, – then why do we have admission tests, examinations and job interviews in the world? Why is weeding out less-capable individuals acceptable in major fields of our society, but caring for less-capable persons upheld as humane in certain minor issues? The answer is that being truly humane is difficult. And we don’t like difficult. But we like being called good. So we make a feeble show of having ideals and values and sentiments, because we are hypocrites.
Remember how violent riots broke out in London in 2011? Hundreds of youths broke into shops, destroyed vehicles, robbed people of their very clothes right on the streets and left them like that. This was not some degenerate, cabalistic fundamentalists attacking an upright, civilized city. This was London tearing itself up. This is – in a nutshell – civilization.
Civilization runs on violence. Civilization as we have created it – runs on nastiness. Gospels of peace are turned into propaganda for bloody wars, back-stabbing and swindling lays the bases of beautiful endeavours. The Taliban is just another fleck in the pattern. The biggest terrorists are those whom we do not even dare call by that name.
All these rallies and poems and silent black images all over the picture around – all this is supposed to be representing a force of good, trying to stand up to evil. I think this is all mere child’s play, a temporary whim of conscience, a luxury – to be gracefully brushed aside when boredom sets in and festivity beckons. And man is an intelligent animal, is he not? He is brilliant at crafting intelligent arguments and theories defending his own actions. Never does he do any wrong.
And if ever he does, – there is always the confessional, right?