We watched a movie the other day – ‘The Attacks of 26/11’ at midnight. I couldn’t sleep for a long time after that. I do know it’s a dramatized version of what happened on that day in Mumbai and that RGV has a flair for violence, but, the chilling truth that 168 people were killed and more than 200 were injured was inescapable. As that ad which (runs on TV) shows a young man sharing photos of all his trips suddenly dies in a bomb blast, terrorism can happen anywhere. No place is safe – be it the streets of Britain, the markets of Karachi, 5 star hotels of India or the mountains of Afghanistan. But, it hit close to home when two bombs went off in Hyderabad a few months back, at a bus stop killing commuters right at the place I used to stand waiting for bus.
Violence is in vogue these days – from mafiosos to maoists, from right wing activism to honour killing. Arnold said it right in ‘Terminator 2’ – “it’s in your blood to destroy each other”. I never understood the rationale behind killing innocent people in the name of ideology or religion. Everybody has a reason to justify their act, but, is killing a solution to everything? Social injustice? Kill people. Ideological differences? Kill people. Apathetic to your cause? Kill people. Turf wars? Kill people. Killing today seems to be a popular solution to everything. But, killing a person just destroys him, it never ends the ‘idea’ of the violence/hatred the person harboured in himself. It is the root of the evil that needs to be hacked, not people. This situation reminds me of a scene from ‘Batman Begins’ when Ra’s Al Ghul asks Batman to kill a criminal explaining purging (read killing) the scum of society is the only way to cleanse it. But, Batman refuses saying it is the root which needs to be attacked, not the criminals who need to be destroyed.
The world we live in is made up of different people from different backgrounds, opinions and beliefs, this diversity is what adds beauty to life. Society always runs on the opinions of the majority, and for sure, there will be injustice, (’cause what the majority likes may not be what I like) but, an amicable solution, for any differences, needs to be attained through civil dialogue and not through barbarism, this is the precisely why we are called a ‘civil society’. What is the point if we look and act like civilised people, but, opt for violent solutions to our problems? ‘An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind’ said the Mahatma. We all could do well with a generous dose of tolerance.
Wow! I sound so naive to myself. Would I still believe the same even if I’m personally wronged? Would I want revenge (or justice as some would call it)?
What would the apostle of peace, Gandhiji say, if Hitler was directly attacking India or if Osama was constantly bombing the country? Would he still adhere to the principles of non-violence? (Gandhiji actually wrote two letters to Hitler (which did not reach him) asking him to stop the war) Would he confront them with his ideology? No matter how much I love his philosophy, I strongly feel trying to argue with these men so bent on destruction, would’ve only been useless. What would Buddha do, if confronted by a murderer? Preach him the doctrine or act for self preservation?
Killing Hitler never put an end to the idea of war just as killing Osama never put an end to terrorism. But, there’s no denying that the world is a better place without them. So, doesthat mean it is ok to kill someone, if it’s going to save countless others (akin to the famous “trolley problem” conducted by Michigan University – would you kill one to save five)? When can (if at all it can be) killing ‘for greater good’ be justified? ’Cause, everyone who kills believes they are helping society by eliminating their opponents.
According to individualist Auberon Herbert, in a just society, there is no conflict of interest when it comes to fundamental rights of people (my freedom of speech doesnt negate my neighbours‘). No matter what our cast, creed or religion is, we all have the same rights as humans. So, only in a world where rights are not universal, where one person’s peace means destroying the other persons’, does the need to sacrifice individuals to a greater good arise. Otherwise, in a just society, there’ll never be a situation which demands ‘killing’ for greater good. This means, unless and until the fabric of the society is threatened by someone, and where all efforts to talk/dissuade the individual or party from creating havoc have failed, should we resort to ‘violent’ measures to contain the situation. But, even after all channels are exhausted, another attempt to bring-in the individual should be made to put him in rehabilitation, giving them a chance to correct themselves. Otherwise, what would be the difference between us and them? And, only when it is believed that the individual might never change, ending his/her life should be thought of.
The only other situation where ‘violence’ can be justified is if it is perpetuated on the grounds of self defence. Everybody has a right to fight back if an attempt is made on their life, but, only in self defence.
And, whatever might be the other issues, it is through proper dialogue that we should solve our differences.
I end this article taking cue from Lord Sri Krishna. Before the Kurukshetra war began, he tried his best, even going as a peace envoy to the Kauravas, to dissuade them from war, it is only after all attempts were made that war was declared. This should be the path even we need to follow. Violence should never be a preferred solution, it should be our last resort.
Sarve jana sukhinobhavanthu (peace be unto all)