Outrage is what I feel when I read of episodes like the one in the pub in Mangalore, when certain Ram Sainiks decided to violate personal freedoms. And then I begin to question myself at a personal level: am I angry at the violence, or, am I upset that women’s rights were not respected? Of course I am upset at both. But what bothered me most was the victory of brawn over brain, again.
It is unfortunate that our country pretends to boast of an ancient civilisation and yet provides very little proof of civility. It has a tradition of debate and discussion which has been allowed to degenerate into polemics. And worse. For we have abandoned rational thought and given ourselves up to populism, which is just a step removed from the mob mentality. Do we lack the confidence in our beliefs to hold them up to scrutiny and debate? Or do we know in our heart of hearts that some of our beliefs do not stand the test of time, so we defend them with violence?
Then there is the issue of abuse of freedoms, and the clash of freedoms. This is a much more fundamental issue that begs many more questions in turn – some theoretical, some hypothetical, some almost heretical(!). Is my freedom to sit in a pub and drink coffee or something stronger of more value than your freedom to believe that it is wrong. Do I have the freedom to act on my beliefs? Or, do I have the right to impose my freedom on yours, because our freedoms clash?
Some of it is clear, to me at least. Freedoms must be upheld, but they bring with them some responsibilities. Such as keeping within the law, not harming others through thought, word or deed and the responsibility to use this freedom to do good. To refrain from what is unethical or wrong.
I hear that we have earned our freedom, nay, more – we have earned our place in the world. I wish I could agree. For what I see around me very often is blatant, and very childish abuse of these very freedoms. It does stink of a tantrum when a bunch of goons take to a pub as they did in Mangalore. It says to me that they cannot think of a mature civilised way of sharing opinions and bringing about the change they desire. ( I will not deny them the freedom to desire a particular change). Or, it is an acknowledgement of the baselessness of their opionion, so again, it is nothing more than the tantrum of an unruly child.
It is time that India and Indians moved beyond childhood, beyond teen tantrums. The nation is now ready to take its place on the world stage – and we must present a dignified front. Such tantrums do not behove a mature democracy like us. Grow up India!