The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.
– Dante Alighieri, Inferno.
I read that quote from Dan Brown’s book, and it might not be an accurate translation / reproduced verbatim.
So with that disclaimer out of the way, I begin this post not as an excuse for having maintained silence over a raging issue that is gripping the whole nation with tension or as my version that justifies my stand on the issue (or rather the lack of it). There is no need to elaborate on what issue we are talking about here because the post will be relevant in every issue thus far or hereafter. But the actual trigger was the banning of Tamil Nadu’s cultural, traditional sport, ‘Jallikattu’ or bull fight. And unless you have been living in the Himalayan caves, you will have at least a small basic idea of what the whole issue is about. The issue has developed into one of national proportion and people world over are sitting up and taking mild interest.
Why then, does this post come at this moment? What is the point behind maintaining almost completely ignorant silence on the issue over all forms of social media like Facebook and Whatsapp, and writing it out in a much more public, specific place like my blog? I have conveniently glossed over repeated requests to share posts related to the issue, clickbait links that have tried to tell me what the whole issue was about, and even refused to change my profile picture supporting or going against the cause.
The main reason is my well founded apprehension that has its base in past experience about similar issues where I have raised my voice for or against some cause and have quickly put myself up for judgment from people who would not dare to do that to my face, but who felt it was bravery to do it from behind the safety of their computer screens. I was (still am, and always will be) very much in awe of the way the protestors have joined hands for their cause, eliminating the backing of politicians and celebrities and not resorting to violence or public hindrance like is usually portrayed. Maybe they heard all the comments that accused them of being the unruly crowd and they wanted to prove the accusers wrong.
Whatever be the reasoning behind it, the mere gathering of thousands of people who do not care about their personal space or food or water essentials and stand in united solidarity for their cause is an amazing thing. There can be no denying that and it has effectively shaken even those who are staunchly against the cause. I have seen live examples of people who were strongly opposing the cause now acquiescing with an undeniably apologetic face that the thousands protesting all over the state have a valid point.
Day after day, new information is released. Both sides have been accused of having underlying motives and while one side is emerging clearer, stronger and more calmly threating with every bit of new, uncovered evidence, the other side is slowly losing face. I, like many millions of people like me, do not know what the sport is. Nor do I have the expertise to demand that the supreme governing and law authorities of the country change their stance. Because all I have is half baked information. In a well explained Facebook thread of a (superb post on this issue) one of my very sensible, close friends shared today, the exact dilemma of a cat on the wall is explained in clear terms.
To support the cause, one must be branded a barbarian. To go against the cause one is an activist who does not have the native pride of the land. Neither accusation is true, nor do they make any sense. It is the simple stance of people that has been quickly put to judgment and branding by the opposite side. If you publicly express your opinion either way, before those who share your opinion could support you, those who are on the other side quickly bring your entire clan under scrutiny and use their imaginative minds to conjure up the vilest names that could be called. These are the pseudo supporters, much like the misinformed pseudo feminists who have never done an honest day’s work in their life for their cause and prefer to sit behind their computer screens and troll the people who speak against their views.
The actual protestors are silently creating their own revolution and teaching the power centers some important lessons about what people could do if they joined hands. The actual protestors who believe in the cause are going without food and water to show their solidarity. The actual protestors are working online even if they could not physically be there and are doing their bit for the protest. The actual protestors show their support by sharing critical information and helping their brothers and sisters by supplying food and offering help. In short, the actual supporters are so busy fighting for their cause to stop and take notice of the internet trolls on either side. And this has left the field completely open for internet trolls to have their fifteen seconds of ugly fame by putting down others in their wake to seem momentarily better.
Does that mean I am afraid to voice my opinion because I am frightened of being trolled? Far from it, I do not believe in just sitting behind the computer screen and sharing sensational links with half baked information and trolling the other side. My presence for or against the cause apart, I believe in the humanity angle of it and have done my bit, silently, off screen to support the cause I side with. I do not need to advertise my deeds because I have no interest in putting my life up for judgment and being labeled by those who do not have any other work than simply spreading panic, rumour and vicious swipes at anyone who is available.
Maybe Dante was right. But he had no Facebook in his days, and, I believe, the number of retarded pseudo fools was a lot less than it is now.
Do I have an opinion on this? Yes, I do. I have gone on a thousand word rant without clearly stating my position but that does not mean I don’t have a clear opinion I would fight for. But do I believe in sharing my opinion everywhere? No. That is not how I am going to do my bit for the people. This might again be branded as escapism. But if that is the case, so be it!