Are we mature enough as a society to agree to disagree?

Liberals and hardliners — white and black? Or is it black and white? In politics, it is neither —  it is often in shades of grey.

 |  3-minute read |   29-12-2018
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Taking an extreme line often leads to clashes — of opinions, that may or may not lead to physical violence. Divergent ideas, expressions and beliefs should be welcomed in an evolving society. Accepting divergent ideas does not necessarily means following them. It just stretches our horizons.

There is no need to agree with what veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah said, but one can still respect his work. If your sensibilities are hurt by a singer's ode to both Jesus and Krishna — it is largely fine, as long as you do not prescribe to the idea of banning his concerts. You may disagree with a Muslim film star being cast in the role of Lord Krishna. However, there is no need for violence — in words or actions. Tolerant or intolerant, real or alleged — one must remember that more diverse the ideas circulating in a society, the greater is its maturity.

main_t-m-krishna_122918022105.jpgT M Krishna: Singing about Jesus Christ and Lord Krishna with the same fervour.

People have different dimensions to their personalities. Some traits are, maybe more acceptable than others. 

To put it in perspective — if you were the examiner, what would you do? Would you try and expose the examinees or would you try and see what and how much they know? Pushing the boundaries is vital for progress. Without going into the boring liberal vs hardliners debate, to remain bound in any rigid circle, either side of the debate is never the best option. In a country like India, this is a very easy thing to do. With such divergence of food and culture and social norms, liberalism is in-built. We are hardwired to accept diversity. Of course, when we come across numerous, potentially 'them versus us' scenarios around us — we are largely tolerant, even patronizing most of the time. The situation changes when a 'so-and-so is in danger' line is peddled and gets the backing of the powers that be.

main_naseeruddin-sha_122918023758.jpgAgree or disagree with his views, you cannot deny the man respect for his art (Photo: PTI)

Of course, these are not the primary narratives playing out, but they are often lurking in the background. They feed on mistrust and misinformation, nowadays almost exclusively driven and fed by fictitious and malicious social media content. This will ultimately lead to exclusivity, ghettoisation, of people, mindsets, trust and mutual belief, making them easy preys for radicals.

As for politics and politicians — it is usually nothing personal. They choose and peddle a narrative that suits them well. They do change their narratives, as the situation demands. We have all seen that in the past few weeks. Electoral setbacks reset priorities rather quickly. Reportedly, the farm loan waiver would be countered with Direct Transfer of Benefits. The GST rates suddenly needed reconsideration and 28 per cent is now 'too high a slab'. We get it. The big day is approaching — maybe odd four months away now. The issue is when political parties are not firm on a set narrative, why should we be?

main_farmer_122918023227.jpgReportedly, the farm loan waiver would be countered with Direct Transfer of Benefits. (Source: Reuters)

Unfortunately, narratives have repercussions. The problem starts when a certain narrative is backed explicitly by power — political power and patronage. The pitch gets shriller, support and supporters get belligerent and it starts to get out of control. It assumes a dimension and life of its own and usually ends in a major tragedy. There are no blacks or whites, no absolute rights and wrongs. Even truth has different flavours under different circumstances. Encouraging and accepting shades of grey will help keep away extremist ideologies.

Also read: Stop bullying Naseeruddin Shah for speaking the truth. Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro!


Arindam De Arindam De @arindamde01

The writer is journalist working with India Today.

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