Being.

Before I dive headfirst into my rant, I’d like to thank you for taking the time out to read this. It’s a long one, and I don’t know if you will actually make it to the end, but I hope that this leaves you with a little something and that it helps make a difference.
This is also the first time I’m really writing about social issues, and I know that my point of view and opinions may not resonate with a lot of people, but I’m open to hearing your thoughts and have a healthy argument. There is a form at the end of the post, which you can fill in case you have any thoughts/suggestions/opinions/condemnations to make.

I’m going to give you a heads up before you squander the next couple of minutes reading this: I haven’t officially changed my profession to preacher, no matter what the next couple of paragraphs seem like. Please remember, it’s just an opinion based on observation, a perception born of experience, and nothing in this write-up is meant to offend the anyone or their thoughts. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion – this is lesson #1, by the way. The rest of the write-up follows suit in terms of tone.

So, let’s stop for a minute and talk about humanity. You and I are humans, are we not? We’re kind-hearted, selfless creatures, living harmoniously as a part of the ecosystem, co-existing with the other beings on the planet, aren’t we? For the sake of reiteration, let me ask this again: are we really?

This year (2020 is the new 2012, I’ve been saying) has generated more memes than the whole of the past decade, solely because of the apocalypse-sized events occurring around the globe. It’s great material, really, and kudos to you content creators. But the ability to make light of these situations aside, I just want to understand this: what are we doing as a species to live up to the idea of humanity?

(Before you begin reading this, the you specified in this paragraph and elsewhere here is not you specifically, but you generally. For the sake of disregarding disparity, ‘you’ also includes me.) You kicked a dog in the middle of the street, just for fun. You pushed to the front of the line filled with the aged just because you ran out of patience. You shamed a woman for the clothes she was wearing (and yes, leering does count as shaming). You didn’t bother discussing critical issues such as sex and rape with your children, and so they turned to pornography for education instead. You paid full price for high-end couture, but haggled with the fruit vendor who can’t even afford to shelter his family from the rain. You kept quiet about the purges plaguing the earth because you remained unaffected by it. Your morals are so upstanding that when you pay your way out of a ticket, it works in your favour but the minute someone else compromises their morals to get themselves out of a tight spot, it calls for a full-bench trial. 

It’s funny how the world works, really. When it is time to stand up and speak, we shut up and wait for someone else to, because we subscribe to the herd mentality, after all. How could we possibly put forward our opinion without the condonation and validation of those we have put on the high pedestal of the societal throne?

We seem to remember when victimized and forget otherwise, but listen up because this is the message I’m trying to spread: Be human. Not everyone has the same privileges you do.

Let’s begin by addressing animal cruelty. Animals cannot speak. Well, they can communicate, but they aren’t going to expressly verbalise that your actions as an ignorant human are hurting them. The crackers going off scare them. Stray animals, specifically, are subject to merciless torture, inhumane killings and lack of the essentials of survival. I’d ask you to put yourself in their place for a moment, but you can’t. Because you are privileged enough to be able to never have to go through something like that, simply because you were born human. Let’s start acting like it, maybe?

The perpetrators of injustice towards animals will never be taken to task if the people watching do not demand justice. Bearing witness and remaining silent is as bad, because you’re condoning the act of the perpetrator. IT IS NOT OKAY TO HARM ANOTHER LIVING THING. But the harsh reality is this: animal activists will continue to do their work, and you will probably donate some money for a tax write-off. But you will still burst crackers and speed on the roads they call their homes, simply because you can.

No one is forcing you to love animals. It’s your choice, completely. (Please don’t miss the opportunity to look a puppy in its eyes in case you don’t love them – and then tell me you don’t feel something. I’ll set up an ECG to ensure your heart is functioning.) But even if you don’t think that animals deserve respect as fellow inhabitants of the Earth, there’s no need to prove to be a hindrance to their life. Next time you’re bothered by a mosquito, think about this: that one tiny insect flying around bothers you to such an extreme when it invades your space – what the animals you displaced during the deforestation to make room for the roof over your head?

The lack of education across the globe is the gravest pandemic of all. What’s worse is those who are privileged enough to have received an education and yet choose to act illiterate. No justification will ever be able to explain that away.  

But the argument arises, is it not the law which should take these matters into their own hands. Let’s be honest, we all know how this works. Unless the people don’t raise their voices, why will the legislature bother to amend something? “Why fix what isn’t broken?” – am I right? Loopholes in the law allow murderers to walk away scot-free. And then we complain that the system is broken, but won’t say anything because this works in our favour.

Convenience. Our very existence on this planet is no longer survival of the fittest, but rather survival of convenience. That is how the world seems to function. To the people who are living their lives unscathed by the various purges across the world right now, able to get onto social media to voice their grievances, kudos to you for taking the initiative to support a cause. But don’t let this be a one-time thing.

If you take up a cause, follow through on it. If you truly believe that racism, suicide, gender inequality and sexuality, to name a few amongst the important social issues need to be talked about, then why aren’t we pushing it until something is done about it? A campaign on social media can only go so far. Yes, education is important. But there is only so much awareness you can spread before awareness turns to a rant over drinks, and then what? We’re still in the exact same position with the social issue as we were when you first uploaded your opinion to your social media feed, except now a couple more people more know about it. Please do not read this as an attack on awareness. I do believe that it is a huge part of any social issue. But there are further steps that we can take, but choose not to. The truth is that if you want to live your life in peace, without chaos reigning across the planet, then you have to contribute to creating the kind of world you want.

“Privilege is not meant to induce guilt; but it is when ignorance borne of privilege prevails, that you ought to hang your head in shame.”

You’re probably wondering why I’m saying things which you have already heard before. It’s probably because despite repeated warnings, no one seems to listen. Unless it doesn’t directly affect a person, they don’t seem to want to do actively do anything about it.

“It’s so sad ya.” “Really… What is the world coming to?” “This is crazy! How do people do such things!” “This is the problem with the world!” “What to do now, this is the world we live in. Pass the chips no please.”

World issues are now casual dinner table conversation, ready to be mocked, decisions berated, and to shake our heads in despair for having to see this. But you know what? You’re lucky that you have the opportunity to sit and pass that bowl of chips around while discussing what has the world come to. It just means you don’t have to be out there, actually living the horror that you see on television.

Do you want to know what you can do? EDUCATE. You are privileged. Take advantage of your privilege. The lesser fortunate than you do not have access to basic necessities, forget education. But if you want to live in the world where every second conversation isn’t a comment on the state of it, then do something about it. Sitting and complaining about issues gets us nowhere.

A classic example of this is talking about rape. Today, it is not uncommon to hear about young adolescents discuss forcing themselves on fellow classmates, or discussing sexual assault in graphic and gross terms. Unless their parents and teachers (or any other authority figure) talks to them openly about sex and what it really means, the only information an adolescent is going to get is from their peers or the internet. Why do we not foster a culture where it is okay to talk about sex openly? One conversation can put an end to the possibility of sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, a drug overdose or a sexual harassment charge.

It’s not against a culture to discuss something which is natural. You call yourself modern? Then get with the times. Children are going to get their information from one source or another, regardless of you. Wouldn’t you rather be the one to give them the real information, rather than let them laugh at reproductive organs in their biology textbooks and then turn to the internet for answers that will contribute to them thinking that it’s okay to body-shame a woman?

You want a spiral? Here it is: body-image issues are born from the need to conform to the size zero norms which society has determined to be the ideals of a perfect figure. But who taught a twelve-year-old that? The internet did – when that porn star with the perfect figure told the kid that this is what they need to emulate. Forget about intimacy, or even love. Suddenly, naked pictures are leaked on the internet, and lives are destroyed, simply because no one wants to talk about the real issues.

This isn’t meant to scare anyone, because I don’t think that fear should be the driving force behind any decision. But it is the harsh reality. This is happening around us, and while friends make for a wonderful support group, blood ties cannot be strengthened without honesty.   

Why do we treat people differently? Social hierarchy is an archaic construct, is it not? Who decided that the colour of our skin would be the determinant for the way someone looks at us? I don’t want to live in a world where I’m treated like I don’t belong, because then, I’m going to spend the rest of my life fighting to find my place, and no matter what I do, it’s never going to be enough, because I have decided to try and ‘fit in’. Let me assure you, I will end up spending my entire life losing myself to the ideals society pretends they embody, while they’re really just trying to discover themselves too.

You want happy? You want peace? Do something about it. Stop fighting your inherent nature and contribute to building a better society, where humanity is allowed to prevail as a species free from the binds of what they think ‘society’ needs to accept them. May I just point out here, and I apologise for stating the obvious, that we are the ones who make up society? So unless you start behaving in a way that actually deserves being called human, you will spend your lives in a faux state of reality, believing that society dominates your life, while all along, it was just your ignorance that turned the gift your life was meant to be into a sham for which you blame society.

Protests, riots, strikes – they are just examples of frustration. People get frustrated when they aren’t heard. Open your eyes and your ears and for once, let’s hold that wagging tongue. Be willing to listen to ideas and opinions from everyone. Do not dismiss a child merely because of age, or a man merely because of the colour of his skin. Everyone has something to say, because every human life belongs on this Earth as much as you do.

Yes, there will be instances and scenarios which are seemingly impossible to deal with. But what good does not acknowledging a situation do? The lack of accountability in the world today requires far more attention than is being given. Accountability cannot become the word of the day when a victim of bullying commits suicide, and then die down like the season has passed. Accountability needs to be as prevalent as carbon dioxide. Everyone is out to protect their own asses, aren’t they? Be honest. Be bold. Own your truth. The world is powerless against the concept of their own benefit.

No one’s stopping you from competing in the power struggle this rat race has turned into. Just own up to it, flaws and all. Prison reformation. Rehabilitation of alcoholics and prisoners alike – why are our children not taught to address such issues? This isn’t a question of interest as much it is a question of ignorance. These are real issues which the world is facing today.

Addiction is a disease. Depression does not equal to sadness. Therapy is not a taboo topic. Low necklines and flirty smiles do not make a woman a slut, nor does it equate to attention-seeking behaviour. Learn about mental illness before preaching about it. Talk about your feelings. Be accepting of the way someone feels. Do not condone educated yet illiterate behaviour. Indulge in the spread of literacy. This is your world too; you know how the tune goes.

People have lost their sense of innocence. Who causes harm to stray animals or even to other humans, just for the fun of it? A sadist, that’s who. (Sorry, I know that sounded rhetorical, but it kind of needed to be said.) The general trend seems to be that when the media throws spotlight on an issue, that is when action is taken. Answer me this: where is the accountability? If a man runs over a dog and drives away without looking back, who is to be held accountable for the loss of that innocent life? But the reaction is different when you replace the dog with a man. “Hit and run victim,” screams the headlines. There’s no comparison here – only a search for compassion.

Even if people aren’t pro-animals, why are they standing in the way of those who do care about every living creature? No one can hold your opinions against you, unless you allow your opinion to turn into an action of hindrance to someone else’s. Don’t love animals, no one is judging you. But don’t say that courts have better things to do than deal with someone who ran over a puppy, because you’re simply condoning murder. An accident is different from intentional harm, there is no doubt about that. But why is it for the public to determine, as opposed to the judiciary, whose very job is to determine innocence or guilt!

Fear. Why do we subscribe to the idea that fear is the only way to get people to do something? Right from school, the fear of punishment is instilled in us. The idea of detention, the concept of being summoned to the principal’s office and the threat of your parent being summoned to school – I would do my damn homework if you asked nicely too, you know. There are cases where children require disciplinary action. That’s when your seemingly harmless threats can be made good on. But what is the requisite for bringing children up in a fearful state, to be afraid of their own parents? At the end of the day, respect is one thing, and having a healthy relationship is another. Every interprets respect differently, but no one discusses where respect ends, resentment begins.

Parenting, in my opinion, has undergone the most amount of experimentation across generations. The same trick won’t work for two different people, but one thing remains: honesty never fails. You teach your children not to lie. Why expect that from them when you choose to lie to them at every given opportunity? Drugs are not bad. Yes, I actually said that. And no, before you call me crazy or idealistic, listen. Drugs are unhealthy, and they cause mental and physical damage to a person who uses them over a prolonged period of time. But your kid doesn’t need to learn about cocaine from his buddy in the middle of a party who borrowed his card to make lines. Your child needs to understand what cocaine is, and what kind of damage it can do to him. Your children need to be taught to make INFORMED CHOICES. We live in a world today where nothing is a secret. Only a fool would believe that lack of information is equivalent to protection against exposure. Honey, your kid probably knows more than you do.

You bribe your child into eating vegetables, they attempt to bribe a cop someday. You tell your kid that they are meant to fall in love someday, they come home with someone you take an instant dislike to because that someone doesn’t conform to your idea of social norms, be it gender identity or religious. You tell your children to believe in their dreams and aspirations, support their passion for astronomy, right up until you’re paying for college and decide they’d do better as an investment banker instead. It’s probably just me, but I see hints of hypocrisy in these parenting styles.

Everyone’s situation is difference, there is no doubt about that. Love for your child surpasses all. You always want them to be safe, and you always want the best for them. But you have to trust that you brought your child up well enough that they can decided right from wrong, that they can form their own opinions, and that no matter what their choices may be, you will always express the pride that your kin is deserving of. Establish an open line of communication with your child, let yourself be privy to their lives. Judgement is hindrance, and disallowing leads to disobedience. This isn’t meant to be a blanket statement – because every child is unique. But don’t let your child grow up in a world where they are afraid to be anything but themselves, where being different is looked down upon, and being the same means they’re a copycat. If they conform to the norms, they are part of the herd, and if they question the norm, they are vigilantes.

Making an example of someone is not punishment. How do you hope to live in a civilized society if we’re going around doing the same thing a perpetrator did to punish him for his sins? Murder is still murder if you murder a murderer. On the flip side of the coin, let me just point out: you want an adequate punishment for rape? Nothing is an adequate punishment for rape. Castrate the perpetrator and let him live out his life in solitary. That is punishment. Death is nothing, it is meaningless. One hanging, and that’s it? No. No one should get off that easy.

Equating happiness with power and wealth seems to be the prevalent determining factor for one’s course of life. “Money cannot buy happiness, but it can buy you diamonds,” – are you planning to cut through the hollow feeling in your life with the diamond, or just hope that it shines enough to light up the dark? Power runs the world, so it seems. The fuel of humanity – the hunger for power. But what do you do with that power? Leave behind a legacy? You want the History books to reflect your name, is that it? No? Then what is it that pushes people to behave as though they are the blessed representatives of god himself, and do nothing for the population but loot them, and then walk away with accolades of public service and a chip on their shoulder? If social hierarchy is going to prevail, then let’s get one thing clear: as the History books tell you, the lower strata of this hierarchy will rebel. They will fight, because really, who made you King?

The revolution doesn’t have to mean that everyone picks up their torches and axes and takes to the streets. The revolution began the day we let ignorant egomaniacs sit on the throne and call themselves leaders, and it’s only going to end when people demand accountability. Go about your daily lives as though reading this means nothing at all, but the next time you see a puppy being beaten on the street, get out of your car and stop it. The next time you get pulled over, don’t try and pay off the policeman. “If you’ve done the crime, do the time.” This world needs vigilantes to call out the bullshit that is the carefully constructed farce of a complexity that we call society.

You create criminals. Remember that. You created the need for that kid to steal when you committed insurance fraud and looted the family, or when something exploded in your plant, and you covered it up, and the kid lost a parent, or even when you ran over his mother who was sleeping on the street, and used your ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ card to evade justice.

I know it sounds like I’m accusing your perfectly untainted ledger of needing a spin in the washing machine, but you know what? That kid is now left with nothing and no one, stuck in a system which looks down on orphans. Who is going to teach the child that stealing isn’t a good habit? Stealing becomes a way of life for them, because no one has told them otherwise. Am I saying forgive them? No. They have committed a crime, and every crime ought to be given due justice. But why does the multi-millionaire get to walk away and the orphaned kid go to jail? That, right there, is where your revolution gains momentum.

The miscarriages of justice and the faith of the ignorant in a system which only works for the 1% is a whole different level of complicated. Some don’t want to ruffle feathers, and some just don’t care. But will these four thousand and something words even be a ripple in their ocean? In all probability, no. Because this is what the world has come to today – we will remain status quo because it works for us, and until such a time that it doesn’t, the idea that the world will truly be a harmonious place to coexist will remain nothing but a myth.

Don’t call me an idealist, because in an ideal world, I wouldn’t have to say any of this and have it ignored, only to have my children say the same thing someday and find themselves fearing for their lives.

With the rapid rise in social injustices and the massive turnout we see of those willing to contribute to trying to get some amount of momentum going – no matter what you do – be in spreading awareness, making a donation or even correcting your own course of actions – it is appreciated, it is compassionate, and don’t give up on it. The people who put down other people for standing up for a cause, regardless of where, when, how and what – at least those people care about something! A cause is a cause, and it’s still more support than a lot of others who aren’t even bothered by any of it.

If you’re so concerned about someone who is standing up for something that happened halfway around the world, think about this: you’re wasting your energy putting them down, when all they are doing is standing up for something they believe in. If you really want to be the good guy, stop putting someone else’s effort to the test and propagate your cause, write about it, and generate more support! Why do we as humans, want to constantly put down other people when they attempt to do something, big or small? An initiative is the same, around the world, because at the end of the day, we’re all human, aren’t we? Imbibing patriotism isn’t your job. People will choose to put their faith in whatsoever they want to. You can’t change that. You don’t need to waste your energy condemning that. Instead, fight that much harder for your own cause, if someone else isn’t. This isn’t a social media contest, to see which social issue gets the greatest number of likes. This is the time for CHANGE. This is the time for the citizens of the world to empower themselves and arm themselves with the greatest weapon of all: KNOWLEDGE.

Sorry for the illogical sequencing of this, it wasn’t meant to be an essay about ‘what’s wrong with the world’, really, but at some level, I hope this inspires someone to call out an offender and do something instead of abetting a crime and letting criminals walk free on the Earth.

I love the world, and I love my fellow humans, but right now, I don’t like them very much. Help humans fall in love with themselves again. Raise your voice, make a difference, or at least don’t be a hindrance to those who do. Love and peace to all – feel free to share any part of this if you believe in the sentiment!

P.S. Every sentiment expressed here is merely an opinion, and is not meant to offend any individual and/or group of individuals. Information to counter any point made here is always welcome, as is feedback.

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