Yes, you. Sitting on your chair or your bed, reading this. You have the power to rid the world once and for all of terrorism and fear. I’ll tell you how, and it won’t cost you a dime.
Let’s understand the nature of terror first – terrorists thrive because of the fear they instill in people. And people who are afraid will do almost anything to protect themselves. Including resorting to violence themselves. All the rubbish that’s happening around the world with people getting beheaded and burnt alive, is for us to consume. We can’t blame the media for reporting these incidents because it’s their job. But we have the power to choose what information we consume. Just imagine a world in which everyone turns off their TV or changes the channel when a terror attack is being reported. Just imagine a world in which we won’t be forced to be an audience for mindless violence. Without an audience, acts of terror aren’t acts of terror anymore. They are just crimes.
Let’s face it – most of the acts of terror that happen these days are only the benefit of the media, and nothing else. There is no deeper ideology and cause that they are “fighting for.” Unfortunately, being human has made us curious animals and we want to read about and watch such wanton acts of violence.
Personally, I consider myself a happy man, unafraid of being blown up by a bomb or any such nonsense. I am so because I don’t read or watch things that are meant to instill fear in me. That’s not to say that I’m living under a rock. Don’t compare me to a cat that thinks it’s invisible because it closed its eyes. It’s just that my decisions aren’t based on fear.
So, how can you stop terrorism? By not being part of the audience. Don’t click on those links, don’t read those news reports, don’t watch those stories on the news.
Sigh. If wishes were horses, the world would be such a beautiful place to live in.
I was reading a rather disturbing feature on Time about the attack on Nido Taniam in Delhi. It struck me that this, and other instances of hate that happen all over the world every day, are not surprising. We can’t pretend to be shocked, awed and disturbed, and cringe away from these acts of violence. As human beings, we are programmed to inflict pain on others. And we love it.
My theory is quite simple: we are hateful creatures, forced to live together on the same piece of land and a bunch of makeshift rules and laws thrown in to govern our behavior. We forced ourselves into this corner. No one did this to us.
On our own, we are quite the pacifists. Well, most of us. But why is it that when we are put in a crowd of people, we bare our teeth, beat out chests and turn on each other? I think the answer lies deep within ourselves – our inherent fears. I’ll explain what this means.
I’ve been doing this very interesting social experiment for a few years now without anyone realizing it, and it’s proven to be quite the eye-opener. Whenever I am alone with someone (say Bob), in any situation, the conversation progresses like any other conversation between two people – about random things or something in particular. The minute a third person (say Dave) joins the fray, I use a variation of the following line: “Dave, hey! What’s up? Have you met Bob? He’s my friend and he’s uh.. um…”
I pretend to forget what Bob does for a living or what he’s good at, or what he has achieved, in an attempt to trivialize him. Bob immediately takes the cue, subconsciously, and rattles off his résumé to Dave – where he studied, what he graduated in, where he has worked, what he is currently working on, etc. This does not always happen, mind you. But when it does and you observe Bob’s body language, and he is the very epitome of defensiveness. His body is closed, arms folded, shoulders drooped, as though he is bracing for an attack.
The same thing also happens when I’m alone with Bob and I feign indifference to his achievements in life.
It’s our fear of rejection (or the fear of being dismissed as unimportant) that puts us in this situation. We all do it. I do it too. I have found myself talking about my career choices and my achievements (or lack thereof) to people for no fathomable reason except my fear of ridicule and rejection. I don’t want the other guy to think I’m weak. Or stupid. I beef up my arms and shoulders, brace myself and start telling him through my body language that I’m a (relatively) smart guy and can defend myself if need be.
This behavior tells us a few very important things about ourselves – we are all in a constant state of alertness, always on the lookout for a threat. This threat can be in any shape of form – physical, mental, emotional, financial, etc. We believe that everyone around us are a threat to our way of life. This is perhaps why we don’t do certain things like wear sunglasses when we’re inside a building – we fear that people are going to point at us and laugh, thus making us feel small, insignificant and vulnerable. This leaves us open for attack from a larger predator.
When the concept is applied on a global scale – to societies and nations as a whole, we realize that the equation does not change one bit. A billion paranoid people are constantly wary of a billion other paranoid people. Fear multiples in crowds and takes a life of it’s own, which leads to bad decisions and ultimately, a lot of people die. This is used as fuel to further our paranoia – because it’s all right when we kill someone because we are doing it out of self-defense. But we fail to realize that the other person is killing for the same exact reason. We think he’s a monster, with no thought control and emotion.
The fact that we need this mutual hate and fear to survive and lead our lives is the biggest illusion that we have performed on ourselves. The idea that we need to lash out at a fellow human being in order to survive is ultimately going to make us as extinct as the Dodo. But not before we realize that it makes us just as dumb.
She responded by gently swirling around my ankles, gurgling as she withdrew and made way for another of her waves to wash over me. I had a smile the whole weekend in Gokarna. I’ve written about what it means to me, so I won’t do it again. I missed the sea, her warmth, her cold, her whispers and her screams, her love, her fury and her caress.
I made two wonderful friends this time in Gokarna. Here’s a shout out to Mahesh and Chris. Hope life takes you both where you want to go, and I hope Gokarna has been as therapeutic to you as it has been to me.
I was born on August 20, 1984. Or, in other forms, 20-08-84. A contraction of the same – 2084 – has always been a special number to me, at least for the past few years when I discovered it. It’s a perfect contraction, and aesthetically speaking, it feels beautiful and complete.
So, all my contemplation and thinking and chickening out ended on Saturday. I got my first tattoo, and I think it beats the shit out of any abstract designs!
There were quite some sights to behold last night:
1. Mom, who prides on being a teetotaler and frowns when I even think of alcohol, nursing a mug of chilled beer and ‘Cheers’ing everyone in the room!
2. The great-grandmom of the family dancing to Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation”!
3. Uncles and aunties enacting skits and acting like kids!
4. Overflowing beer!
5. Four people trying to force open the cork of a wine bottle, without a cork-opener, and managing to break the cork into tiny pieces that fell into the wine!
6. Turning around in circles with a confused look because I was drunk and I couldn’t find the bottle of scotch!
7. Calling up friends and singing Nickelback songs while standing in the middle of the road!
8. Scrambling for money to fulfill the last-minute orders for booze in the packed wine store!
… and other memorable sweet nothings marked the end of 2008 and brought in the new year with much anticipated revelry, fireworks and a collected sigh of relief. It was something that everyone needed, I guess – a break. It was a fantastic start to the new year when I closed my eyes at 2 in the morning, drunk, expecting a major hangover and with a contented sigh on my lips.
Once upon a time (2 days ago) Apar had asked me for my resolutions and I had deftly deferred (adamantly refused) the issue until the year actually begins. Now that it has, I can avoid it no more. Through my hungover haze, I thought about it and realized that there are quite a few things that I’d want to do this year – resolutions and wishes – and I made a rudimentary list. I began prioritizing them all, and here’s the final result:
I want to smile more this year, irrespective of the situation. I want to be able to convince myself that punching myself in the face while asleep is not worth losing a smile.
I want to make sure that I think seriously about making a resolution to consider the possibility of a faint chance of quitting smoking.
I want to get the two books in the pipeline out this year, come what may.
I wish this year has some surprises in store for me, because all 2008 had to offer was one heartbreak after another.
In the same vein, I hope to find true love, clichéd as it may sound. I’m tired of one-off dates and two-week affairs and one-month ‘girlfriends’. Sigh!
I want to go to France.
I want to succeed in organizing an All India Bloggers’ Meet in Gokarna this year – it started out as a South India Bloggers’ Meet, but I decided that Gokarna is too beautiful a place to make anyone jealous!
I want to feel like God – I want to buy an Avenger!
I wish I can convince myself to start working out again – running for 40 minutes a day isn’t enough. I want to pump iron again!
I wish I could sleep for 16 hours a day and laze around in bed for the other 8.
I’m going to booze more often and get drunk less often.
I wish I could wish for more wishes.
I wish I could make others feel better.
I wish people can live in peace without having to kill for it.
I wish I could make at least one person happy per day.
I wish I can grow a year old and look back at myself with pride for having accomplished at least one of the above.
Have a great year everyone! It’s been one hell of a journey, isn’t it? 😀