Killing With Indifference


I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

 Elie Wiesel in Night

When I read these lines in Elie Wiesel’s masterpiece, I got goose bumps. I read it a number of times again and again and somewhere deep inside vowed to find out about all injustice happening around, and speak out at least against the ones of the higher magnitude. Then, with a great feeling of satisfaction, I closed the book and felt good about having read such a good book.

It has been a couple of months, and like many other, that resolve remains postponed to the uncertain future. Like many other profound ideas that never get converted to action. Then, today, while browsing from link to link, from one blog to another, I received another jolt. First this post by Ramya and from there to this one at Mow Books, I was shaken up from the deep silence of indifference.

I remember having watched an episode in Boston Legal where one of the cases concerned Darfur or the genocide in Sudan. I loved the episode and in the last one year must have watched it, with admiration, over thrice. And yet, thanks to my deep rooted rut of indifference I never felt the urge to to know more. And that is when we can google anything. I have read at least 30 books, watched at least 40 movies since I first saw that episode and blogged quite a bit. Interestingly, I have read at least 5 books and 5 movies set around the theme of the genocide by Hitler. And have written posts earlier, seemingly sounding disturbed. It is so easy to be disturbed about history, and so difficult to even give a damn about anything in the present. We are so happily living in the past and the future that the present drifts, as if non-existent.

Before the question as to what we can do to remedy such situations arise, the question arises why do we not know. And from there stems the answer to our next question. And there is a lot more we can do. Maw Books talks about it in great detail, acheiving from her side the minimal action that is required.

This is not about Darfur but about us. About me. About my indifference and reasons behind. But trying to figure out those reasons is another criminal waste of time. Specially, when very close to where I live, in Kashmir people are dying and are denied basic necessities because some land was transferred to some trust which wants to provide facilities to some people who want to visit soem temple to pray. I am a Hindu and I would never like to visit the God if that requires killing people around me. And that is being justified because the other side is not of my religion? And no one in India, NO ONE is concerned. One blast in Bombay makes national news for months and a month of blast in Kashmir hardly finds a minutes mention in national news here. And we Indians say Kashmir is an integral part of India? And when Arundhati Roy talks of freedom for Kashmir, her nationality is threatened? What the hell is happening?

I am too angry right now to write anything coherently anymore. But you might be able to. So please do.  

5 responses to “Killing With Indifference

  1. I’m glad you wrote this! II got very involved with the Darfur crisis – in part through the Sartre/Camus studies and the source of their conflict which was about Algiers but is still very applicable to what is going on in Darfur and other African countries that are experiencing similar conflict. I was very disappointed China got the Olympics, not just because of Tibet but also because they are a big part of the problem in Darfur.

    But like you said – it’s really our indifference that is to blame and I have been indifferent recently. Cheadle and Pendergrast say in Not on Our Watch – The four hoursemen are to blame: apathy, indifference, ignorance, and inertia.

    It’s such a difficult issue. What Camus and Sartre were arguing about over Algiers has not yet been resolved in modern times. But at least – neither was indifferent!

  2. Thanks for mentioning Arundhati Roy in your post. She is the most important dissident voice in India today and actively champions the cause of the oppressed and the underdogs. She voices her observations in an awesome way – without any fumble or fear. Thumbs up for her!

  3. That’s a very touching post..the stuff that can inspire a few to do something or at least pause for a moment and think what they are not doing. We need more messages like this, do write more.

    And you got an incredible blog. And I see you are a fan of Boston Legal 🙂

  4. Arulba,
    I guess even the US is not serious about addressing this problem. Let alone the politicians and the diplomats, I have come across quite a few blogs of normal people who believe that Darfur is a plain civil dispute and claims of genocide are bogus. How does one counter that?

    I agree. When Arundhati Roy wrote that article opposing Indian nuclear tests, I was angry, like many Indians and Anupam Kher. I still think that article did not make sense. She wrote an article about the evils of nuclear weapons opposing Indian tests, whereas, nuclear weapons always existed whether India had it or not.
    Recently, during one of my cases I came across the Narmada judgment where Arundhati was sentenced to a ‘token’ one day jail for contempt. Since I had it against her for having opposed the nuclear tests, I though this was another gimmick when it happened. However, when I read that judgment, I was shocked. She was right to the core and the judges made a fool of themselves by actually quoting passages from what she had written. Anyone can see by reading that judgment that Roy was right and our judges were too haughty or influenced by other considerations to see the right way. Even now, she says exactly what makes sense. That India is as much a problem for Kashmir as Kashmir for India. It is because of Kashmir that India can never have a pro-active foreign policy. Today India is financially strong enough to arm twist nations like Sudan to get it to control its excesses against its own citizens. But India will never do it because it fears a similar argument could be used against it with respect to Kashmir.

    Thanks for your comment. An yes, I absolutely love Boston Legal. I have read a lot of literature but i still think that Alan Shore is the deepest character ever contructed in any form of fiction.

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