"Man grows used to everything, the scoundrel!”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment
In a bid to keep ourselves sane, we make a few sacrifices. We make ourselves immune to what is going on around us. We think tragedies can only happen to others only- the sick, the vulnerable, the old or those in the 'danger zone'. We mistakenly assume that innocent people who define success as living each day as it comes and those who harbour ambitions as innocent as doing the day's work are not at risk. However, the definitions of how safe we are changing each day. How paranoid can we be? We have learned to be paranoid at the edges...getting used to a vastly dangerous world full of wars, genocide and murders. Or have we?
Like yesterday I was saddened about the attack at a cafe in Sydney- where normal people were going to a cafe, not expecting to be held hostage. But they were held under siege by a person suspected to be anti- social. And I could identify with these cafe- goers greatly- they were like me and the fear grew larger. And today I woke up to the news of 130 children killed in Peshawar school. I thought of Malala- how she lived to face the Taliban to tell us about the conditions she faced in her school but the 130 children couldn't. Something as routine to go to school can be life- threatening. I tune into the papers, and I see the investigations of why a teenager opened a fire in high school or a family killed themselves. We cannot draw boundaries to any specific danger zone anymore. It fails to be about religion or state of mind or any thing that divides us. The grief is shared across the world and is real. When the world gets up again and gets ready for another day- another round of news, it feels we are brave but it also feels we are stupid. The problem is the illusion that we live in times of peace.
Yet, have we have learned to take killings, should I say lightly? We can tolerate the live stream of a video showing massacres or collective human slaughters, or read them about in coffee table books, some of us can play violent video games and see violent films. Since I can too, I know that we consume all this passively- as if we are not in that moment and it happens on a different level of consciousness, as if it is trapped in the screen or in a past moment that cannot come back. Sadly, and very sadly, fiction gains its potency from reality, and reality is rooted in the minds of individuals as ideas. The ideas of violence are ripe in all of us- a primal remnant and as evolutionary biologists may point out- our edge to survival instinct.
I am not afraid to admit that I am faint-hearted realist- I am certain that there is nothing unreal about what happens around us and that we have cleverly adapted our faculties to duck the impact. We collectively consume death like dead- people in cinema halls and in news print. We have learned use words like "I'll kill you" kindheartedly.
As I grow older, I am trying to grasp the facts about life, death and what comes in between, so my understanding is very crude and I don't have a conclusion on how much gore is normal...but I do sense as humanity we are getting used to the concept of killing humanity- if we weren't getting used to it, we'd stop. We'd use our survival instinct to creative purposes. We have embraced the violence-accepting science and role of state–especially in the view of the Weberian political science.
When I was a child and heard about my grandfather's death my mother was sick -worried about how it would be like when the kids see a dead body. It is not easy to explain the concept of death to anyone. Of course, they did not let us kids see the dead body of my grand father. We were too young to grasp death but old enough to sense the fear around death. When I was about nine, I feared my parents are going to die in an accident- I faced the fear of death and wanted to be around them all the time. This were maybe the first recollections of any kind of a real threat to my own self and identity. I still fear the sight of death- and even dealing with death of pets has been an inconsolable sorrow. Death left holes in our hearts and minds as kids and adults alike. But I feel that death due to natural reasons is relatively easy to cope with. Several years down the line- one looks at it as part of being a mortal. There's something uglier and inane about humans killing humans. If you hate someone, leave them, drop them, do not meet them...but people choose to kill. Or kill themselves. These are the inanest thing we do as humans.
I think we should admit that it's difficult to accept humans killing humans, and just out an end to it. That it is unnatural and unwanted. I do not know how this notion will gather strength because we have seen enough as humanity, even in the past century. I have come across the non- killing view- the concept refers to the absence of killing, threats to kill, and conditions conducive to killing in human society. I am trying to learn more about it but to the "rational" mind, it seems a utopia as of now.
I also think we should celebrate peace and those who support peace. Wanting peace, tackling conflict non- violently and keeping peace and not killing someone are not really something we celebrate as families and societies. I know this will fall into further debates like what about soldiers who keep peace and peace keeping forces, but all I can hope that they are not the only way to keep peace. It's tough be a Gandhian, but why not start small and discuss ways where we increase the might of good samaritans and lessen the influence of the destructive and mis- led elements. I am also inspired by Ashoka's renunciation after the Kalinga war and Alfred Nobel's remorse. Maybe we can recognize those who reformed, and shaped their lives differently. I know a lot of people are good, and we are just left out to defend ourselves.