I can see six kinds of Indians right now:
- Horrified and heartbroken
- Fence-sitters and conflicted
- Comfortably numb
To those who are horrified and heartbroken — thank you — for having a heart large enough to hold the humanity of another person in it. For having a mind that can grasp the concepts of co-existence, sharing, respect and peace.
To those who are doing all they can to oppose the forces of hate — organising; mobilising; recording; documenting; contributing — skills, resources, time and money; protesting, posting and amplifying what the media won’t — please take care of yourselves. You are precious, and we need you — this fight will be long.
‘The Fence You’re Sitting On Will Also Be On Fire’
To those who are too triggered and emotionally affected at the moment — also take care of yourself. Take a break, rest a bit, but come back soon. Our trauma is nothing compared to those who are suffering the real violence which we can’t bear to see. We owe it to them to gather all our emotional strength and be their voice. We need to show up in every way to say that this is unacceptable, that we will not let this happen in our time, on our watch, in our name. Your empathy is your super power, and I believe in you.
Dear fence-sitters and conflicted, I understand that you’re hearing both sides of the story and are confused about what really is going on. Follow the people who are posting from the ground and others who offer clarity based on facts and logic, and not fear and hysteria. Read independent media. See the truth for yourself, educate yourself about the facts.
I know your heart is in the right place, but you still need to wrap your head around it all. It’s a rabbit hole, there is so much information, a lot of it very disturbing, but read and watch it all.
And then let your heart let you pick a side. Because the fence that you’re sitting on will also be on fire soon, and then you’ll be forced to pick a side — so, now is a good time to learn all you can and take a stand.
‘Use Your Privilege to Create a More Equal World’
Dear comfortably numb, I know how privilege feels. It helps us see the world through rose-tinted glasses, and creates blinkers for anything that isn’t picture perfect. Yes, I know you’ll tell me life hasn’t been easy for you either, you’ve had your share of troubles — but tell me, would you like to compare notes on the subject with a daily wage earner who does manual labour to feed his family while the tarpaulin on their hut leaks and soaks their only dry covering?
I’m not saying you need to feel bad about your privilege; you just need to recognise it.
And then use it to amplify the voices of those who did not have the good fortune of being born into a family with the affluence, social status, caste, religion, or all of the above, as yours. They inherited their position in life, and everything that came with it the same way you did – by birth.
Neither they nor you did anything to deserve it. So, the least we can do is to take off our blinkers, get out of our comfort zones, and make an active effort to treat others with different circumstances with equal respect, and learn to genuinely believe that that they deserve the sky, the earth, the city as much as you do.
Their lives have the same value as yours does, no matter how different your clothes, your homes, your prayers and your food.
If you feel resentful as you read this, look within yourself and ask why this should not be true, what about this offends you. Stare at that spot in your soul long enough, and you will find your humanity within — and know what I’m saying is true. And then the hatred, murder, lynching, burning — all in your name — will hurt you like never before, and you will know that the responsibility that comes with privilege is to use it to create a more equal world.
‘I Pledge to Stand Up to this Wave of Hatred’
To those rejoicing, may something someday awaken the light and love in your hearts, and may you then see that the people whose deaths you cheered were your brothers and sisters, and that you have their blood on your hands.
To the victims, I am sorry that we, as humanity, have failed you. That a mob of our own fellow human beings mercilessly beat you to death, and then continued beating your body some more. You were just returning home from your prayers with food for your children. To those who are afraid for their lives and having to leave their homes, to those who can’t afford to leave, to those whose homes, businesses and places of worship have been burned — I promise to do all that I can to stand up to this wave of hatred, and I promise you that there are millions of us doing all we can.
To the chanting, burning, stabbing, beating, acid and petrol bomb-throwing mobs, I have just one reminder — that there may be many kinds of Indians right now, but there is only one kind of human being, and your brutal attacks are on your own soul.
And finally, dear ‘leaders’ who ignite hatred, I did not forget you — I just saved the worst for last. The sun will rise on a day when you will lose in spite of it all. Because I still believe in the simple truth, that LOVE is more powerful than hate.
(Eina Ahluwalia is a jewellery designer and social activist. You can find her at @einaahluwalia on Instagram, and @einaahluwalia on Twitter. This is a personal blog and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)