Martyrs' Day: Why celebrating ‘sacrifice’ is just a big old-fashioned guilt trip

As India celebrates Martyrs’ Day on Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary, we wonder if glorifying sacrifice is just a nasty tool to discipline?

 |  2-minute read |   30-01-2019
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Death is the ultimate punishment.

All organised religions of the world use the fear of death to get people to do what has been accepted as the ‘good deed.’ And if there are good deeds, there are bad ones too.

So, certain actions — 'sins', as every religion has it — lead you towards destruction and away from the right path.

Oh, fear them, they say. Stay good and God will not punish you with death.

So we’ve established that death is the ultimate punishment.

Does that mean martyrs who are led to their unfortunate fate are sinners?

Nope.

And here’s the catch.

Apparently, dying or sacrificing something for a greater good is just great. Right.

But who decides the good and bad of it? Well, that’s the subject of another story.

on-what-he-left_013019010402.jpgAre we less patriotic if we don't sacrifice for the country? (Source: Reuters)

But glorify sacrifice, we must. Dedicate days — today, 30th January, Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary, is declared Martyrs’ Day, dedicate monuments and what not, subliminally conditioning the general mind to believe that you don’t matter in the larger scheme of things.

Unless you've sacrificed.

And we’re confused.

For starters, where does that leave those who’re not choosing to sacrifice in the accepted way?

If we don’t die for the country, are we any less patriotic? If we don’t give up our LPG subsidy, are we not the 'aadarsh nagarik'?

Choice and consent lie with the individual, and this includes the choice to sacrifice or not. If your vegetarian friend is guilt-tripping you into ordering tofu — ‘How can you eat *insert meat name here* yaar’— is not okay, this one isn’t either.

lead_720_405_013019010955.jpgThe choice to give anything or nothing has to be yours. You can't be guilt-tripped into anything including 'sacrifice'. (Source: Reuters)

Then, apparently, abstinence is noble. Yet, the very thing that drives the human race — right from the invention of fire to the Internet — is the desire to make life better for ourselves. Holy animal of whatever kind you worship, are we all sinners?

And then, there’s the ‘greater good’ conjecture itself. Gandhiji is a martyr in his own right because his death was in the interest of India’s independence. Doesn’t that make Nirbhaya a 'martyr' too, given how it led to an entire nation uniting against rape, leading to actual reforms in our rape laws?

But here’s the thing: neither of them chose to die.

Both were, to put it simply, thrust into the situation. And now, by shrouding the reality of their death in a pious cloak of sanctimoniousness, are we not shifting the focus from, in this case, murder and rape, respectively?

So, you know what, just don't.

We're not falling for that. 

Let's call a murder a murder, a rape, a rape, a sacrifice, a sacrifice — and a spade, a spade. 

Also read: Jeene ki Raah: What we learned from PM Narendra Modi through Instagram

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