Democracy and Dissidence

I just realised that this is the last Saturday of the year and here I am, writing this, on Christmas night trying to feel all cosy and Christmassy. It ain’t easy with what’s going on around me. The country I was born in and the one I live in; both are caught in the midst of violent turmoil. When I started writing, I wasn’t sure what I would write on, but I was pretty clear what I wouldn’t write on. Politics and religion, because they are extremely personal. And sports because I don’t follow it.

I was tempted to break that rule, but then… no I ain’t doing this. There are enough, way more knowledgeable people, who are making the right noises; hoping to be heard above the din. What I would rather talk about is something that I read about Christ. I’m unable to quote it verbatim but the crux of what I read was- Christ chose to live with us to be in our shoes, to experience our discomforts. It ain’t easy to live with other people. As we spar our ideologies, we are tested. Through our disagreements what we need is, to be comfortable with them and share the experience of being human together.

Unfortunately, we are losing that precious perspective. Why is it that we cannot disagree without being spiteful, raving, ranting, rage crazed people that we have become? Why are we not exercising our choice to be understanding?

Where have all those safe spaces vanished, the addas and the kattas where people discussed their heart out, defended themselves vehemently and kept coming back for more of it day after day. Disagreements and opposition are the cornerstone of a democracy. Dissidence is what keeps a democracy on its toes. Why are we questioning each other’s right to question? It’s our differences that work for our country’s best interests. Is it such a difficult concept to grasp?

As we step into the new year, I have a small request. Every time we hear a voice that is saying things that don’t gel with our opinions, instead of trying to shut it out, let’s direct that effort in shutting our own mouth. They may tell us something we may not know or maybe we would be better equipped to know how to counter them.

If you still haven’t found your reason to make an effort to listen to each other, I will give you one more. By closing our ears or by trying to outshout each other, we are closing doors on our own people. By the merit of evolution, God bestowed upon us the beautiful art of communication. If we squander it away, effectively it means that we are settling for an inferior version of ourselves.

Let our political (or religious) ideology not come in our way of being human. Let us not allow those who choose to divide us have the last laugh. Let’s celebrate our diversity rather than wishing it away. Its what makes us, US.

They say, everyone makes mistakes but fools insist on repeating them. For a country that should be well versed with the divide and rule stratagem, we are proving ourselves to be extremely poor at learning our history lessons. Could it get any more ironical than this? Are we repeating our mistakes? Pause, introspect and answer it.

Hoping that good sense prevails on all of us, here’s wishing you a wonderful Saturday. See you all in a saner 2020.

-Dr. Shivani Salil

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