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  • Writer's pictureLopa Shah

Choose goodness, no matter who you are.

In solidarity with people of Kashmir, today, on Eid-ul-adha, the festival of sacrifice and sharing, I choose to speak out, speak up and speak of dying humanity.

I’m sitting here in the comfort of my privilege, alive on the choices I’m granted as an upper caste Hindu upper middle class citizen of this pseudo-secular country. This position stinks and it hurts my jaw refusing it. In spirit, I do not identify with any label I may be needing to wear in this environment of increasing fascism, but what I’m born with, follows me and now I find my self here, in “network-zone”, “safe and out of Kashmir”, where I can access the privilege attached to all my titles. Because, let’s face it, If I were any “less” than what I am today, I would have been struggling for basic dignity, let alone equitability, somewhere in a remote village in Jharkhand, or while running errands for a ‘civilised’ household in Chhattisgarh!

This is not new, they argue. True. And newness I’m not looking for. What angers me is the disposition of everyone who claims an opinion, but fails to find time enough to support it with empathy, or even compassion, to begin with. Are we really applauding government’s “ease in restrictions for Friday prayers”, while in the first place this unconstitutional and alarming oppression shouldn’t really have occurred? And are we going to argue this with “they wronged us too back then” bullshit? Do we not realise this othering is strategic? Are we so naive as to let the clear disparity between what is said and what happens go unnoticed? Are we giving in to fear-driven governance now? What is the meaning of all the money our families spent on educating us, if we cannot use it to drive our brains right in testing times like these? And of course there are 50 issues at hand and one can not be expected to be aware and empowered to act on all. But some? One, at least, done rightly?

Siding crime is criminal enough. Our collective voice matters. If it can bring a party to power, can we not see what more it can do? Is it too much to ask for, to do good and support only what’s right, irrespective of your political inclination? It angers me more, but it upsets me to be a part of this society that is failing the basics of humanity, by complying to oppression until it is personal. What kind of a country are we leaving for the generation succeeding us? Have we ever wondered why a concept like that of Leila, a fictional drama series on Netflix, would even occur to the maker? What we consume, is who we are, and what we shall grow into.

Yes there are many of us who are trying to reach out, express dissent, and support constructive actions at every opportunity. I wish them more power. I wish myself more power. But a handful may not be enough. It is time we put our intelligence to some productive use. It’s time we employ our education to uplift our sagging behaviour. It’s time we step out of our idiosyncrasies, groomed in the comfort of societal acceptance, and save our collective sensibility from rotting. It is time we accept our privilege with gratefulness and put it to productive use. If you are privileged with the access to internet, root for right causes. If you are privileged with capital, invest in upliftment and correction. If you are privileged with knowledge, make inclusive arguments. If you are privileged with the power to choose, make empathetic choices; choose to travel to make your won truth; choose to ask, choose to be kind - as passionately as you stand by a colour and irrespective of who you are.

It is easier said than done, they say. Sure. But our will makes it possible and our skill makes it easy. I urge us to make this choice. I urge us to choose goodness, no matter who we are. I urge us to stop fanning our egos with half-baked, unexperienced knowledge, and speak only to win arguments. I urge us to be empathetic. I urge us to speak up when something is wrong, and not stop until it is corrected, even or more so when the wrong is done to the side we don’t incline to. I urge us to keep our political inclinations separate from our humanitarian choices. I urge us to strive to move beyond mediocrity and mass wittiness. I urge us to take everything with a pinch of salt and strive to make our own truth. I urge us not to wait until deaths, rapes and cyclones to recognise oppression or abuse of power. I urge us to recognise subtle signs. I urge us to realise that emotional trauma, caused by alienation and marginalisation, is a real thing. And that it needs our attention, our brains, our interventions. I urge us to first be humans, doers, change-makers, before being Nationalists, Religionists, theorists. I urge us to act, and act now. I urge us to help children go to school, no matter what. I urge us to help women feel safe, no matter what. I urge us to know what is non-negotiable, no matter what!

Because if we don’t, we will fail. And the glorious “idea of togetherness”, will be fed to joke-mongers, in a time that is soon to come. And our children will remember us for what we did not do, for what we did not see, for what we did not leave for them to live by.

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