Saturday, October 25, 2008

Desensitizing Violence

Ten years ago, the word "rape" would cause me to twitch uncomfortably. Today, this news assaults the ear continuously that it seems like it is quite a normal event. Even under the current conditioning, a few events were shockers (the rape of a nun in Orissa, the rape of a young girl in broad daylight in Mumbai by a policeman and so on). A few days back, when driving through mount road in Chennai, gory photographs of dead Sri Lankan Tamils were visible. For some reason, these images passed through my eyes without causing a flutter. Looking back, I think it was the Rwandan genocide that really exhausted all the shock senses. Every possible atrocity that could be conceived on a human was completed during that period (a million corpses in three months). I was not aware of this event when it was actually occurring (1994), but I learnt about it later.

Now, I do not know how to contextualize all these events that occur on these lines. Shock doesn't help. Anger doesn't help. Helplessness doesn't help. And for more than one reason, the choice to ignore is no longer available.

My intention is not to make this a philosophical musing, but to see if there is personal relevance for us in the situation. There is one thing we can do. It is to use all these events to look deeper within ourselves. There is only one way we can help. It is to be that which we wish to create, and if possible, create such a climate in our nearby surroundings. I happened to hear Sadhguru say this recently (translated from Tamil) - "When you got angry, irritated or jealous, you did not consider that to be a big deal nor did you understand that was violence. But when it took a monstrous form on the road, you suddenly thought it was inappropriate". What we see in ubiquity today, once took root as a seemingly trivial human thought. These thoughts came together one day and then...

I am sure all of us nurture thoughts like these within us in varying degrees of intensity (my due apologies in the event you belong to the rarer kind). In the context of what is happenning nowadays, I think we need to take a very close look at this and decide what it is that we wish to create within and without.

8 comments:

Ramsi said...

When I read about what's happening in Congo
click here,
I had the question "Can we do anything more than just read it as another news from Africa?". Your blog seems to be an attempt to answer this, but I still wonder.

Deepak said...

Ramsi,
There will always be too much going on around the world - much more than we can handle as individuals (both that which we wish to create or otherwise).
I am convinced that the way we think, feel and operate moment to moment has a direct bearing on what happens outside. But if you are looking for these to stop right away, that is not going to happen.

Ramsi said...

You are right. However, I know for sure that I'm capable of doing more than what I'm currently doing in my life. I can of course sit in one place or live my life like this and just think positively and wish for a better world. But as you said operating moment to moment is important. Actions are needed. I may not be able to stop all these right away, no one can. But I should be able to bring about a change, atleast in a smaller circle. I'm giving very little towards it, there's so much more I'm capable of, but what's stopping me. I don't know.

Deepak said...

Ramsi,
I am not sure if I conveyed my point properly.

1) Actions are not at all needed. If you wish to help a victim of violence, it is perfectly fine. The situation exists because a perversion settled in the first place. What is needed is for as many people to have a change within - it is a grass root change that can have a trigger on the outside, but eventually boils down to the individual. When you consider how difficult it is for common, normal people (you and me) to maintain 100% focus on a day to day basis, it will give you an idea of the magnitude of change that needs to happen. If you want to direct your efforts there, then yes, I am sure most of us are not doing everything we can. But if you are talking in lines of helping victims, it is needed in the current scenario, but it is only addressing the symptom of a deeper cause.

2) I am not sure you perceive the impact of one person changing within completely. You surely have seen examples outside? :)

3) Without being established within, going to work outside can lead to us being caught in the rut as well. If you think this is improbable, you are mistaken. Again, going back to the Rwandan genocide, I was able to read examples of a school professor murdering his own students, a friend murdering his friend (in an unbeleivably brutal way. This incident hurt me a lot - it was difficult to imagine how some one whose shoulder you had your hand once in can become your victim in such a disastrous fashion). Intense anger, hatred or jealousy have a way of pulling us inside in ways we cannot even imagine. It works the same with with love and compassion as well, but these are qualities that exist only when consciously created, and that is where we are short of people in.

Radha said...

Additionally, I feel it is not possible that the actions that we are capable of do not happen when we maintain awareness. How is it possible that we don't respond to a situation when we remain aware?

Action need not always be explicit, even a simple thought of wanting to make the situation better genuninely has a positive vibration attached to it. It is just that in our unawareness, we either ignore such news, shrug it off or react to it(Like developing an avertion towards those causing it).

I agree to Deepak about bringing the change inside ourselves first. I am not saying one should help others only when we reach a state to be aware all the time. If one has the urge to go out and help others, we can very well do so. But if we do not maintain an awareness, it is very much possible that we get caught in the situation itself. For eg, one may start feeling proud of it as soon as he\she starts helping others, may take the policeman cap and feel powerful about it and so on. So internal change and awareness appears to be the primary requirement, out of awareness if action arises, it will have a much more impact on the outside than otherwise.

I think we should always remember that our primary focus is to raise our consciousness. This will help us to remain humble when we are presented with an oppurtunity to help others.

Radha said...

Additionally, I feel it is not possible that the actions that we are capable of do not happen when we maintain awareness. How is it possible that we don't respond to a situation when we remain aware?

Action need not always be explicit, even a simple thought of wanting to make the situation better genuninely has a positive vibration attached to it. It is just that in our unawareness, we either ignore such news, shrug it off or react to it(Like developing an avertion towards those causing it).

I agree to Deepak about bringing the change inside ourselves first. I am not saying one should help others only when we reach a state to be aware all the time. If one has the urge to go out and help others, we can very well do so. But if we do not maintain an awareness, it is very much possible that we get caught in the situation itself. For eg, one may start feeling proud of it as soon as he\she starts helping others, may take the policeman cap and feel powerful about it and so on. So internal change and awareness appears to be the primary requirement, out of awareness if action arises, it will have a much more impact on the outside than otherwise.

I think we should always remember that our primary focus is to raise our consciousness. This will help us to remain humble when we are presented with an oppurtunity to help others.

Deepak said...

Ramsi,
There will always be too much going on around the world - much more than we can handle as individuals (both that which we wish to create or otherwise).
I am convinced that the way we think, feel and operate moment to moment has a direct bearing on what happens outside. But if you are looking for these to stop right away, that is not going to happen.

Deepak said...

Ramsi,
I am not sure if I conveyed my point properly.

1) Actions are not at all needed. If you wish to help a victim of violence, it is perfectly fine. The situation exists because a perversion settled in the first place. What is needed is for as many people to have a change within - it is a grass root change that can have a trigger on the outside, but eventually boils down to the individual. When you consider how difficult it is for common, normal people (you and me) to maintain 100% focus on a day to day basis, it will give you an idea of the magnitude of change that needs to happen. If you want to direct your efforts there, then yes, I am sure most of us are not doing everything we can. But if you are talking in lines of helping victims, it is needed in the current scenario, but it is only addressing the symptom of a deeper cause.

2) I am not sure you perceive the impact of one person changing within completely. You surely have seen examples outside? :)

3) Without being established within, going to work outside can lead to us being caught in the rut as well. If you think this is improbable, you are mistaken. Again, going back to the Rwandan genocide, I was able to read examples of a school professor murdering his own students, a friend murdering his friend (in an unbeleivably brutal way. This incident hurt me a lot - it was difficult to imagine how some one whose shoulder you had your hand once in can become your victim in such a disastrous fashion). Intense anger, hatred or jealousy have a way of pulling us inside in ways we cannot even imagine. It works the same with with love and compassion as well, but these are qualities that exist only when consciously created, and that is where we are short of people in.

 
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