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Taking it personally


We are taught mathematics and physics of quite an advanced level in schools. It is often questioned how this would prove to be useful in real life, except for people who go on to work in certain specialised fields. While our education system and curriculum needs a lot of improvement, teaching of these subjects does have certain advantages. Regardless of how well you do, studying these subjects itself introduces a certain logic into your thinking. No matter how much life beats you into adopting a prejudiced, myopic point of view through its bad experiences, that logic never dies and doesn’t let you stray from your path.

Ability to apply logic in daily matters is what separates an educated person from the rest. What is surprising is the inability of the majority of people to do the same. For example, a logical person wouldn’t blame a victim for a crime that has been committed. A logical person would also not judge an individual’s worth based on preconceived notions about his race, caste or religion. But these things are as common in our society as corruption is. The reason being that it is a common tendency of people to try and separate themselves from unpleasentness as much as possible even if they have to abandon logic to do so. They find themselves better off believing that bad things happen to people belonging to certain sections of society or certain kinds of people who bring it upon themselves. If a girl was raped, she must have got mixed up with the wrong crowd, or wandered off into a dangerous area of the city. Nevermind our inability to make the cities safe for our women, we conveniently blame them for not being more careful. All of this and more so we don’t have to consider the possibility that something like this could happen to our own daughters.

A large protest followed the Nirbhaya rape case in Delhi. The ‘common man’ was outraged. Same  thing happened when recently a boy from Arunachal Pradesh was beaten to death by a bunch of shopowners. Such protests put pressure on the authorities to ensure that justice is done and constant media attention makes it difficult for them to quietly slip under the radar. But have the people actually started empathising with others’ plight? Only partly. The above cases made people realise that their own sons and daughters are not safe. This outrage can never be duplicated if a poor toll booth attendant is shot dead or if a poor tribal woman is raped or if a bunch of people sleeping on the sidewalk are runover by a drunk celebrity. We all talk about how awful it was, but we don’t go out on the streets to protest. Instead, we flock to the cinema halls to watch movies starring the same celebrity.

Do we not have it within ourselves to extend our empathy towards people who are different from us? Simple logic dictates that if certain sections of a society continue to suffer injustices, sooner or later evil will find its way to all of us. This lack of empathy is present even more in our leaders and our law enforcement. It is, ofcourse, up to us to keep them on track. We need to start becoming more sensitive as a society.