I have the dubious distinction of being related to someone who is a fake news creator/generator. No kidding. There I was one day reading an article listing the fake news generating sites and people, when I saw a familiar name staring right back at me. Whoa! If I knew how to, I would have whistled just then. I was already aware of the person’s political leanings and also their penchant for extreme views, but that they would actually go to the extent of spreading lies, willfully and blatantly at that, was news to me.
What happened was this. Two years or so back, fireworks stored at a temple had accidentally caught fire. Many lives were lost, many more were injured. There was an investigation and foul play was ruled out by authorities. It was an unfortunate accident caused by negligence. The fact is accidents caused by fireworks is nothing new to Kerala, the reason being people’s lackadaisical approach to the rules of safety set in place by authorities. And yet here was someone who was using the opportunity to point fingers at a particular community as perpetrators of the crime with no basis whatsoever, and thus trying to fan the flames of hatred against them.
It made me think, I tell you, of the stuff people around you are made of. Do we really know them, those we call our family? (And here by family I mean those outside the nuclear family unit).
Ever since the change in the political scene in recent times, I have been witness to family members privately making hate-speeches (Yeah, I have quite a few of them who think their religion is the best and others are all out to get them!). Who’d have thunk they held such dark thoughts and feelings inside for those belonging to a different religion while pretending to be epitomes of tolerance? Not me. I tried talking to one or two of them, but to no avail. Personally, I’d rather see humans as just that, HUMANS, not slot them into categories of race, religion or any such man-made divisions. But the lesson I have come away with from my interactions is that you cannot talk hatred out of prejudiced hearts. What I do instead these days is to keep my distance from bigots and their bigotry.
All this has given rise to some other thoughts. What if (Yup, my favorite pastime: What if!) things become worse and we come to a stage when lines need to be drawn? Who will be on your side of it and who on the other? There’s one more scenario that plays itself in my mind. What if I am attacked for the views I hold, or the stand I take? People are being attacked and arrested for all sorts of things these days, for innocuous Facebook posts even. Will the people who I call family, albeit extended, come to my aid if I am in danger or simply say, ‘She brought it upon herself!’ and wash their hands of me? Or worse still, will they join the attackers, pick up a sword themselves, yell, “Off with her head!” and send it rolling? Frankly, I don’t have any answers.
©Shail Mohan 2018
Oh, I tell you…people who you consider you know well suddenly turn out to be complete strangers once they open up about religion and views on equality and women and the floods and Sabarimala ruling and Adultery ruling and same-sex relationships and so on. Recently, I picked so many bombs within the extended family about Hinduism and Christianity and BJP and what-women-ought-to-want and so on. Needless to say, I have lost respect for more people in these few months than ever before. And at the end, I am the rebel, the one who is ill mannered and brought up badly and all that. I guess it’s better to be alone than be with family/friends who are really just strangers.
Mick Canning said:
Unfortunately, you do have to be extremely careful.
True, Mick. 😦
I am surrounded by such folks having such extreme religious views about their personal ideologies. Over time, I have stopped arguing with people harboring such extreme views when it comes to religion or caste, like you rightly point out. The online world has nurtured such people with the lid blowing open. It irritates me to no end and better keep a safe distance.
Online friends with extreme views I have thrown out without a second thought. I don’t know what to do with so-called ‘family’! Smh.
Yes time to throw away. Family is more complex, I guess and trying to limit interaction, exception on rarest occasions. I often hide behind work as an excuse not to visit and be party to such extreme conversation 🙂
Yup, complex is the right word.
Oh Lordy! I thought I was the only one who faced such a delimma…Thank you! I have been given labels for calling out the bigotry in the family and the BS about gender equality. I have come away feeling, you cant bend a Tree, you cant push a person up the ladder, you cant shift the ocean, you cant get rid of bigotry and prejudice and hatred once it has made its home in people…All that crap about giving people second chances for their opinions, sorry, I dont have anymore generosity to give in and forgive.