Sunday, October 20, 2013

What is evil?

My last three posts have hovered around the question of non-violence, winning wars and of speaking softly and carrying a big stick.So, then the question is who is good and who is bad? What is good and what is bad?

Technically, for Indians, after a century odd of occupation the English were bad - we were fighting them in our own country, right? Then, how come, they defeated Hitler and how did that suddenly made them good in our eyes?

Is the LTTE bad, is the Khalistan bad, are jihadis bad? Then who is good? Why are they good? Who is bad? What defines them? And then let us go back in time. Were the aboriginals bad - they were wiped out - as were the American Indians by and large. And India suffered hundreds of invasions which were very very brutal.

These are tough questions and I had not thought them when I set out writing this series of posts. But it is worth a try.

Throughout history, it is not always that the good guys have won. In general, today it is accepted that colonialization was a bad idea - but an idea of its times nonetheless. At one point, the white man was seen as a saviour - taking millions out of ignorance into development - indeed from their pagan roots into more 'evolved' thoughts. The value systems like liberty, equality, fraternity are no doubt good but the belief systems like religion is highly questionable. Even in these highlighted countries, women had to fight for voting rightsa and a right to stand in office - while in many of the traditional societies, women had equal (some societies were matriarchial too), if not more rights. Oh, well, in some very rich parts of the world women are stillfighting for driving rights. But in a nutshell, today, no country can think of colonialising another country. Times change. So, colonialism - which was good then is bad today. Read The White mans burden here.

When the invaders of India massacred its population (mostly the unbelievers in their view), they were doing what they were always doing. Today, an invasion and massacre of that scale are unheard of - not as invading armies. But the terrorists have taken over - and even that is accepted is bad (mostly, though there are apologists - and ask yourself why they can justify this - or what makes them justify this). So, massacre of non-believers is not accepted today - it used to be accepted once upon a time, not by those massacred obviously - but then history is written by the winners. But if we don't fight in the present, we are history - as written by the winners. Massacres of infidels still happens, but hold on to that thought.

What Hitler did – and which in my unimportant opinion turned the tide was that he tried to colonialize Europe – which till then was considered out of bounds. I mean, while the English and French fought in India, they did not fight at their respective countries – those territorial integrities were wrapped up much earlier. And by then many of the colonies had got sufficiently restive enough for England to let go. Remember that India had French and Portuguese territories till as recently as 1954 and 1961 respectively.

So, what if Hitler did win? We would be speaking German instead of English is a very simplistic way of looking at it. But, more than that, would more and more people have found their way into gas chambers? We don’t know. What we do know that is that 6 million of his countrymen were gassed.

What if the jihadis win? Will we have equal rights for everyone? Or will unbelievers be killed just because you worship a particular god? In some parts of Afghanistan, Sikhs have to wear a yellow turban – a chilling reminder of the yellow badge that Jews had to wear. Pakistan has made a micro minority of its already minority communities – and they are now after sects within their own majority.

What if we had let Khalistan evolve as a separate state? Would we be setting the right example for a unified India? Or should we have allowed the creation of India into 25 (or 300) odd different countries. What if the LTTE won in Lanka? Would they have followed universal ideals of equality to all – or would that pave the way for further violence in the world? What if we allowed Maoists to run amock blowing up mobile phone towers and schools – are they taking the world forward or backward?


Hypothetical questions all of them – but the directions are clear?

Were the rapists of Jyoti Singh good? Were the terrorists in Kenya who killed Mitul Shah among many others good? Are the terrorists who keep bombs in crowded places good? If they are, please invite them to your house because I will do everything in my power to keep them out of mine.

Good is all about supporting freedom.
Bad is all about regression.

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