Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal.

When I go from hence
let this be my parting word,
that what I have seen is unsurpassable.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Divided we totter

Mumbai police was not able to protect Taj and Oberoi from terrorists even though it had received information about their plans in September. It did not have resources to guard the hotels and also protect the rest of Mumbai from being ravaged by Raj Thakeray and his goons. The ATS chief who died fighting terrorists at CST was busy investigating Malegaon blasts done by Hindu fanatics from within the country. He probably didn't even get time to plan for threats from outside. Our public is more interested in real or perceived insults exchanged between communities than in threats from outside. We are all fighting against each other - Marathis vs. north Indians, Hindus vs. Muslims, south Indians vs. north Indians, Christians vs. Hindus, tribals vs. non-tribals, lower castes vs. upper castes. The list is endless. The ironic part is that in all the fights all the communities involved use the same arguments to justify their violence. Apparently, "someone else is always trying to humiliate them, demean their culture, rape their women, take away their jobs, or inflict some other horrible injustice upon them. They are just returning the favour". Is it so surprising that somebody from outside will try to take advantage of the situation? Every time we have fought against each other some one else has been there to exploit it to his advantage. All this makes me think. Can we really blame outsiders for trying to use our infighting to his advantage? After all, if we have so little sympathy, kindness, consideration or respect for our own people, why should an outsider have any such feeling for us? Our behaviour after the attacks has only served to justify the fact that we deserve to be taken advantage of. Look at how our leaders are behaving. The home minister of Maharashtra dismisses the attacks which took 200 lives as a "small incident". The chief minister of Kerela calls the home of a fallen soldier not worthy of a visit from his dog. Every political party is out to gain political mileage from the attacks. Every celebrity wants to turn the event into a PR drive. Every security agency is busy trying to pin the blame on somebody else instead of analysing and rectifying its own errors. If this is the way we react to these attacks, how will ever prepare ourselves for the attacks that are bound to happen in the future. We know they will happen but we are just not ready to give up our petty concerns and unite against them. Ariel Durant might have not been speaking of India when she said that a great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within but it sure fits us more than any one else in the world today. But we, as always, will just not listen.

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