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Opinion || The Many Voices of Intolerance

A negative propaganda poster from a Facebook ‘page’ equating present Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s regime to the Nazi Empire. The Hindu religious symbol for ‘Om’ has been fused With the Nazi Swastika, another ancient Hindu symbol.

“Opinion” and “Truth” – the coexistence of these two words in the same vocabulary largely implies the multiplicity of perceptions that form the backbones on which to rest what we generally come to term as the ‘truth’ – often tipping the real thing to the larger vat of ‘collected opinions’.

This seemingly unfair fate of what is the ‘absolute truth’ in respective  eyes isn’t easy for many to accept who are driven by deep-seated conviction after they become aware of what they will eventually come to regard as the ‘truth’.

Convictions being a byword for belief, it is confounding to note how ‘personal’ awareness can transform into rabid dogmatism, after being inculcated into the usual ‘kingdom of belief’.

The queer feature of dogmatism is that it tends to feed itself off a sense of ‘collective’ belief. The worst dogmas cannot be content to merely occupy a pride of place in the heart of the one person with the concerned opinion. It has a morbid need to reinforce itself in times of doubt, owing to the shabby construction job that goes into creating the ruse of ‘truth’ in the first place. The belief itches to spread its wings and demark a ‘kingdom’ for itself – the proverbial ‘kingdom of faith’.

Comedian Kiku Sharda was arrested for mimicking a self-styled religious guru

Faith, when it comes to matters of God/s and religion/s, as seen in cases of faith in apparently sound systems of thought, can spiritually elevate a person towards being a better individual – an objective ingrained in the very core of most religious beliefs and guiding philosophies.

They are yet a far shot from being systems impervious to pitfalls. The people in control at the top of the pyramids that are these systems, are often drenched in the sweet nectar of measurable influence that they hold over the people beneath them in the arrangement.

It is not the venerated Lord/s or the divine words inscribed in memories or ‘holy books’ (which are quite often open to any interpretation) – it is the collective thirst of a power hungry panel of thinkers who twist human spirituality and turn it into a misguided ‘cause’. They would often master the art of oratory to brainwash gullible human beings at the altar of faith who are confounded by the sheer disparity in the number of questions floating around in the universe to the few answers that can be unlocked at once.

Since time immemorial, religion and/or philosophy has been abused for the sake of wielding power and territorial expansion. At their worst, they have been termed ‘anarchy’, ‘religious autocracy’ and in case of India at present, a ‘democracy in disarray’.

Aamir Khan’s rebuttal to his original statement and the consequent backlash

This state of confusion has, naturally enough, given rise to a multiplicity of voices that are all speaking in unison but speaking things that are diametrically opposite to each others’ – turning voices into instruments of chaos – burying the very notions of ‘civilized discourse’ beneath a pile of rubble.

These voices, whether Marxist or Democratic, whether Muslim or Hindu, whether far right or liberal left, are all speaking in unison to try and turn the scale on their favour – accusing each other of intolerance while basking in the seemingly innocent self-declaration of being ‘right’.

Human beings, as a race, are yet to learn to influence without conquering first. Their assertion of strength is irretrievable from the clutches of subjugation, which becomes their very cursor of power.

In a day and age when the internet has become a playground for bullies and laws are twisted in interpretation so as to silence the drowning voices of reason, the propagators of absolute intolerance bordering on violence, whichever camp that they may belong to, are nothing but agents of humanity’s primitive power play.

There are but only a few alternatives in such situations. One is to drive headlong into the ‘free-for-all’ by signing up with one of the aforementioned ‘camps’. All one needs to do after that is become intolerant in due course of time to defend the cardinal truth of a ‘functioning’ democracy – the acknowledgement of multiple voices.

The saner thing, of course, is to ignore. To ignore is to elevate oneself to a plane of silence that is unfathomable for most. For others, however, silence is where one eventually finds the light of the ever-evasive ‘truth’. []

First published in Issue #3 of CultureCult Magazine (Winter 2015-16)