Culture · Europe · Letters · Paris · Travel

To be or not to be

This weekend my friends came over for drinks. Conversation after drinks is never in tandem with reality. We were discussing on racism and the whole world going crazy. We passed funny statements on our religion and boasted ourselves as masters of the world. We were a group of intellectual atheist who believed that anything bad happening to us has nothing to do with any form of religion but it is something to do more with how we define the ideas within us and make it our foundation of our actions. I saw the true testimony of how hollow we are in what we say and what we think that night.

It was around 11:45 PM when a couple decided to leave my house. They did not bring their vehicle as they did not want to drink and drive. Since it was a Friday, every radio cab was booked or was available only after an hour later. I told my friends they would find a rickshaw at the rickshaw stand. After a discussion we decided that it was safe to travel by a rickshaw to the other end of the city. There were three rickshaws in the stand, all the drivers chit-chatting with a cup of tea in their hands. We went to them, and asked them if they could go the destination. They obviously asked twice the price, and we did not mind because my friends were in a hurry. A man with particular religion was first in the line. The second and third drivers were from the same religion as I, it was very obvious by their appearance.  My intellectual friends took exactly three seconds to decide which rickshaw they what would choose and subconsciously chose the second rickshaw. They both had the expression of ‘He would be safe at this hour’. They went on and life went on. No one realized.  I got a message from the same friend on WhatsApp on an article on ‘Firing in Paris and the rise of racism’. I pressed DELETE.

I was talking to my uncle the other day and he has this serious aversion towards a particular religion. He tells me his opinions honestly and we have argued multiple times over this. From history to politics our quarrels has been never ending. He has one employee under him from same particular religion and a friend from college and he loves them both immensely. He gives them time for evening prayers. During appraisal he has given him the raise he deserved. My uncle and his friend have travelled places together, they drink together and even at the time of adversity my uncle runs in aid for him and vice-versa. I have even seen my uncle going to locality dominated by people of that religion with us and enjoying dinner without any fear, without any thought that they are a different kind.  However, in theory only he feels there is something wrong with them.

This puts me in dilemma with respect to religion. I have a friend who is an atheist and in philosophy communist till some extent who has shown the shades of racism in action and an uncle who claims to be a racist but in action he is a different person altogether. I come across people like this every single day. Some discriminate discreetly with people who are from particular state while back in New York the Indian and Pakistani college students stay together, play X-box together and after few drinks quarrel on Political tension between the two countries.

As I catch up with the daily news, I wonder how many people in those demonstrations are true to what they believe in. If we have intelligence and the courage to stand up for what we believe in. I wonder if being racist starts with me. I get reminded of what Sydney Portia said in Guess Who’s coming to dinner – You think of yourself as a colored man. I see myself as a man. I want to be Charlie but I am not sure if I truly am, by words and by actions.

One thought on “To be or not to be

  1. Religion in itself is losing context in the modern society, but deep inside our prejudices still rule our choices. I guess when people get drunk, decision–making is more skewed towards ensuring survival and hence prejudices get expressed more clearly. Most people argue that they learn morality from religion, by that argument atheists should be perpetrating all terrorist attacks. I guess most of us needs a tribe, a group that we can call our own, so that we may differentiate between ” them and us”. pepsi vs coke, federer vs nadal, IBM vs apple, axis vs allies, Christianity vs islam, we love taking sides. If religion goes away we will fight over football ( which btw happens all the time). What I mean to say, is that religious bigotry, racism, football hooliganism are all based on the same deep-seated urge to be a part of group with the same goal. So there is no end to it. Based on most of the papers on the topic, rationality is an illusion. studies comparing normative and descriptive models of reasoning often show that irrationality is a characteristic of human cognition ( Stanovich et al, 2003) . The Panglossian position for the just world hypothesis has been refuted multiple times, giving up the claim for rationality is the necessary first step. Anyway, cutting the long comment short, I guess we should take immediate actions and judgments and not bother about the subconscious too much. Its good that these people took the streets and made a statement and that’s that, who knows what will happen 10 years or 100 years from now? it’s important what we do today, our actions define us (batman begins). Nice read, Dawkins would be proud.

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