Yesterday, one of my ex-students, after watching a skit performed by the current students, which denigrated a Hindu deity, expressed his anguish at the denigration and his apprehension that if the video of this performance was uploaded to Youtube, it may have negative repercussions.
Today I was reading about the Jaipur Literature Festival and the Rushdie ‘tamasha’.
- Have we lost tolerance? The survival of Hinduism happened because of its ability to assimilate other perspectives. In fact, most religions that that have survived and are currently acceptable, are those that have adjusted their viewpoints. Fundamentalism and right-wing attitudes have equal and opposite reactions and create more polarisation of society.
- Is not acceptance of a situation a starting point to solutions? Only when we move from Denial to Anger to Acceptance that we can move towards solutions. Why are we not able to accept and something has happened, and then move on to prevention or mitigation? Why do we stay shocked, deny what happened or remain angry?
- Have we lost our sensitivity? Should we not, before embarking on an action, determine who will be impacted, both in the short term and in the longer term? The students verified with me whether mimicking me on stage was acceptable (because of an immediate fear) but did not verify whether vilifying a Hindu god was okay!
- Have we lost the courage to speak our mind? Do we no longer have the freedom of expression? Is this freedom being misused? Who or what determines misuse? Does our fear emanate from the recent phenomenon where bullying is the first line of offence? Are we becoming a generation of bullies?
I teach people to face fear. I exhort them to treat F.E.A.R as an acronym – “Face Everything And Recover”. But I will be frank, even I am fearful. In this situation, I shall desist from putting up the video for public display because of the potentially negative impact on the institution that hosted the plays.
But I am ashamed of the fact that I am displaying cowardice and hiding behind prudence as a rationalisation of my cowardice.