Noam Chomsky wrote: ‘Everyone’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s really an easy way: Stop participating in it.’ This may shock or stun you because you obviously thought you were making all the right motions by lighting candles, marching through your city, pasting #SayNoToWar all over the social media, and probably asking everyone else to go and join the army. Not bad, I’d say. After all, voices need to be raised to counter the din that terrorism invariably creates. But you obviously haven’t noticed the alarming headlines in our newspapers.
What do the newspaper headlines say?
Yes, there are references to Pulwama, Uri, Nagarkot, the attack on our parliament, and other explosions from here to there but once you cut through all the facts of dastardly terror attacks and a lot of rhetoric you find yourself submerged in other headlines. In a single day’s newspaper I was able to find references that alarmed me more than what happened at Pulwama.
A man drags a girl in a loo and sexually assaults her, gangsters runs extortion rackets from a jail, six people who were awarded death by our SC in 2009 were acquitted in 2019, HC asks traffic cops to stop chatting and focus on work, a forgery case lodged against a video blogger who made a fake clip, pollution statistics have more cities from India than any other country, 77% of guest teachers fail to secure minimum marks, man held for using e-wallet to defraud trader, walking gets impossible in Delhi, ED tracks money trail in the Chanda Kochar case, government red flags issues plaguing anganwadis, and the matrimonial website scam are just a few sordid incidents that made it to the mainstream media in one day. Pulwama and all that happened subsequently stand no chance against this deluge.
Move out of the newspaper and look around. I did just this and discovered to my chagrin that the rest of us were no less involved in our daily terror activities. There were bloggers busy copying text for an ephemeral applause, garbage was being littered all over the streets, offices that begin at nine have staffers trickling in at eleven, traffic violators are forever ready with excuses if caught, bribes exchange hands, maids shirk work, shopkeepers are not returning small change, squatters are going on as usual, and yet everyone assumes that terror is only when some bomb explodes and kills people.
Let’s get our priorities straight
If an unlawful use of force and violence against anyone anywhere is an act of terror, most of us are inflicting this on others. Force and violence aren’t used only by a band of brain-washed dolts who run around exploding bombs and shooting people in the name of jihad. Yes, they are representing the classical definition of terror no doubt, but so are those who are weaving in and out of traffic lanes if I may add. Haven’t you heard of bosses who terrorize their subordinates? Aren’t teachers who compel students to buy books that they have written or ask them to come for tuitions also terrorists? Aren’t trolls on twitter doing exactly what terrorists wielding AK-47s do? Don’t politicians play with fear to get their votes? How about the educated and the literate succumbing to temptations of getting their job done by employing methods that are disruptive?
We need to sit down and coherently examine every kind of terror that is plaguing our society today.
The obvious question then is if there is a viable solution to all this. Malala Yousafzai wrote that ‘with guns you can kill terrorists, with education you can kill terrorism.’ This obviously isn’t enough. Yuval Noah Harari believes that ‘terrorists are masters of mind control’ and goes on to explain that they ‘resemble a fly that tries to destroy a china shop’. Yuval goes on to tell us that a fly first ‘finds a bull, gets inside its ear, and starts buzzing. The bull goes wild with fear and anger, and destroys the china shop.’ Let us step out of the world of terrorists who roam around with blazing guns and look at road rage. Just one short-tempered bull is enough to cause a jam that will last for hours. These bulls are all over… in offices, in homes, on the street, in shopping malls, in trains, inside the parliament, in places of worship, on the social media, in the media and everywhere else you can imagine.
By the way, this short-tempered bull is inside all of us and whenever it decides to get overwhelmed by an irritating fly, it begins its ruinous run. Identifying this bull and keeping it under control is the only way out. We mustn’t allow this bull to spread panic. This should #WorkForBharat and for everywhere else.
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06 March 2019