Srinagar: Few incidents over the past two weeks have raised several questions about how we tend to behave individually and collectively. The reaction that we as a nation have showed towards these incidents has a lot to tell about our beliefs and values.
We as a nation have seen worse situations, situations that failed many a civilized nations, but somehow we managed the show and passed the testing times with flying colours. I remember that last month we carried a story about a young boy whose father was in need of money for getting his son treated in a far off hospital. Even though the amount was not meager, but the response from the people was so over whelming that within three days the father got the amount in his account and he had to request people to stop their contributions.
This being one aspect of our collective response towards an issue and the response demands tremendous applause. But on the other hand what we are promoting and propagating about the burning issue we face collectively puts us to shame.
Over the past six weeks, the incidents of braid chopping have cropped up almost in every district of Kashmir Valley. The incidents, though condemnable should not make us transgress the boundaries of humanity and sanity.
The young populace of the Valley has risen up to the occasion and have formed groups to counter these moves by whatsoever agency or group, but doing this are we not bound to ask ourselves that we need to set some bench marks to prove our sincerity.
The few incidents where the people claimed to have caught the braid choppers have shown how violent and ruthless we can get. Almost all the cases where people tried to act smart have proven to be false as the people trapped proved to be innocents. So much so, that in Sopore, angry crowds tried to set a mentally challenged person on fire, that too alive.
Another incident where a tractor driver went to his employer to get his wages was labeled as a braid chopper by the employer because he was not interested in paying off his debts. The people around were so ruthless that they thrashed the driver to the extent that he is still battling for his life at a hospital in Srinagar. Or the incident in Shopian where mobs set the house of a political activist on fire just hours after he was killed for being affiliated with a political party shows how abnormal the crowds can get.
These few incidents have raised many a questions about how we are reacting to certain situations. We as a people who have witnessed innumerable miseries were the first to condemn the lynching incidents by vigilante mobs in mainland India. But, here don’t we need to remind ourselves that are we unknowingly treading the same path.
Why are we forgetting to exercise restraint and self-control. Self-control is key to a well-functioning life, because our brain makes us easily susceptible to all sorts of influences. Watching a movie showing violent acts predisposes us to act violently. Even just listening to violent rhetoric makes us more inclined to be violent. Ironically, the same mirror neurons that make us empathic make us also very vulnerable to all sorts’ of influences.
This is why control mechanisms are so important. And these mechanisms need to be strengthened by the leadership and right thinking people in our society. This is the time to act. Tomorrow may be too late.