In no mind and space to write at length. But there is no better way I have yet found, to bear your own self and the world, in what we are consuming as information, conversing with near ones and reflecting our own.
And like Michael J. Sandel says before he begins his class on Political Philosophies of Justice, “Self-knowledge is like lost innocence. However unsettling you may find it, it can never be unthought or unknown. Once familiar turns strange, it can never be the same again.”
Moral pursuit is not solitary pursuit but a public endeavor and so I picked my self to write another piece of reflection in these ugly(-ier) times.
Bull Fights Versus Bharatnatayam*
*Indian-ised version of dog fights versus Opera
If you live in a country where majority of the people prefer bull fights as the means of entertainment over Bharatnatyam, would you justify Government’s act of subsidizing Bull fights over Bharatnatyam?
Take another one if a group of 10,000 or lets just say 10 million Indians for sake of the example, get their delightful happiness by seeing a dozen of Pakistanis stoned to death in a Stadium. Does the collective of 10 million enjoying the brutal murder of a bunch of Pakistanis still make it just?
Last one, if your government decides to increase the tax on rich to 60% of their income, will that be just?
If you agree that these ideas are unjust, we agree here that democracies are good but there are certain moralities which are much sacred and that no democratic government has the right to take that away from the society. Like Shashi Tharoor said in his book, Democracy is the worst form of governance, except from the ones that have been tried so far.
(Just in case you think any of the three acts can be classified as just, I will be happy to engage with you, but this piece will surely not be best suitable!)
The three examples illustrate the right to life and the fact that certain acts are heinous and there are certain pleasures which are of a higher value than the other. The quantity of pleasure being equal, UNO can still not be as good as poetry.
And this was just to home the point that no democratic government, just by virtue of being a democratic government, gets absolute rights over its citizens.
Does five lives matter more than one life?
This is a classic philosophical example. Let me take you through one of the many. If a doctor can save 5 patients who need a transplant, by killing one healthy person who just came for a regular check up to him, would you think saving 5 lives is justified?
If you think this is also unjust then how do you justify saving more lives by putting lives of few Indian migrants at stake? Whos lives are more precious and nobler?
Just a parallel thought, what we call as few is not even close to few. But I shall stand to the rule that even if it is only one, how, on this shameful planet of human beings, can anyone justify saying there was no better way for India to deal with this?
Today, I felt deeply ashamed that there are AC trains being run at 3-4 times the fares in the same times when our very own fellow citizens are desperately waiting to reach homes. They just don’t have the means and right in front of their very own eyes, you decide to run only AC trains that are unaffordable to them. All they can afford is to be crushed under these trains, and you with your logic can only wonder, what fools, why were they sleeping on the track. You can only be in someone else’s shoe if you remove your own shoe. You can’t wear both.
And our villages are not homogenous. I don’t even want to imagine when they reach their own village, some may face the caste super-structure and harassment that they had escaped by running to cities. But the only hope is perhaps that they do what they would like to do. They will be where they wanted to be.
And I know economics comes to rescue of our conscious, doesn’t it? We are in a dire state and need to revive certain sectors, make certain section of people travel and get back to work, raise the bar, raise the GDP. Markets and capitalism is, like someone said, the only system where taking a small sum from the rich is seen in shock; while people dying of hunger and nature dying of pollution is never a worry. And that’s why I doubt whether there would be any real change after all this is over, to be kind to nature.
And some of us may want to call India a Malthusian catastrophe, explaining how high numbers in population is the cause of trouble in our country. Remind yourself of the fact that more than 80% of India’s wealth is held by less than 10% of Indians. So scarcity of resources, for whom? Thank you Malthus, for the easy escape to conscience for many Indians.
Because the current times are worse than ever I have personally read or lived in the history of our country. Also perhaps because I am watching live media on a daily basis, half consensually. We have now a range of lesser humans, who are not bounded with labour laws. Conversations as I over hear on how to continue to push the labourers to work without pay given for lockdown days; and to bear the pressures of reviving the economy, work in least safe conditions, prevent them from leaving the state because that may harm the ‘economy’ – these are all just mini glimpses.
Let us be a bit ashamed as a collective, as part of the society that failed them. Because privilege is not easily felt. Celebrating mothers’ day is a privilege, not able to feed your child safe and timely meals is the ‘other’ reality. We just happen to be too close to ourselves to count our blessings, or our ancestral unjust conquest, our bourgeoise nature of work or just a matter of luck – but that is rare, trust me.
I was newly introduced to Diogenes as a thinker and I would like to introduce him and more importantly to his minimalistic living. So much so, that people used to call him a dog. Diogenes actually took this as a compliment.
Fawn at who give me anything
Yelp who don’t
Bite with teeth at rascals
Living a life of a Nomad, he had only few belongings. He once saw a boy drinking water from the river through his hands. Watching this, he threw his mug and said, I don’t need the mug anymore as I have learnt today to live without that and quench my thirst.
And that is perhaps a subtle but strong mantra of knowing where we have gone all wrong. Unless we contain our boundaries, our wants – material and aspirational, we will only be extractive and least in sync with our fellows citizens and the planetary boundaries. The hope doesn’t lie in saving the world, or saving the migrants; the hope lies if we as humans can explore morals and justice that we abide to.
And no science can help you here. If they give you a tech advancement, it will come with its own baggage of viruses and social apathy.
And no economics has never helped, it just tried to justify your pleasures and their miseries.
History, well if you learn from it.
Polity, if we could make better human being, we will have better leaders. Our leaders are just a reflection of our society.
And Philosophy, to survive.
Can the earth take one more chance with us?