Violence Within Us: Our Responsibility in the Aftermath of Peshawar
There. Yes there, where the guns blazed. Yes there, where hearts bled for the gentle touch of parents. Yes there, where once I shared my secrets in my best friend’s ear. Yes there, where I ran away with the favourite pencil of the class monitor. Yes there, where everyday my mother waited for me. Yes there, where I became an olfactory connoisseur by smelling the scent of freshly-bought notebooks and the residues of sharpened pencils. Yes there, where I had myriad soliloquies. Yes there, where I sewn my adulthood ambitions. Yes there, which is now a place washed with the volcanic eruption of my blood, my friend’s blood, my best friend’s blood, the blood of my favourite teacher whom I gifted a hand-made card. If I knew that before cherishing my basket of memories, that I would become a memory, I would have kissed my mother once more time, hugged my father a little tighter, conveyed to my siblings that they make me the happiest, and never missed my homework. Only if…
Violence creates shock waves of fear and enslaves the mind. Violence makes it impossible to shake off the shackles of oppression. Violence is propaganda to ensure conformity as it dismantles the moral strength of an individual. Whether it is rape, spousal abuse, homicide, or mass destruction, everyday violence is unleashing its pernicious wrath in such a gruesome manner that a flicker of recapitulation brings in gush of tears, followed by anger and finally the resolute to terminate this hunger game of blood.
The December 16th heart-wrenching assault on helpless school children who went to school just like any other day without knowing that they would never return home has sparked off collective disgust across cultures, communities, borders and boundaries. There is no other word to describe the Talibani action other than “disgusting”. As the world succumbs to silence it is an appropriate hour to once again introspect that how we inhabit a culture of violence, nurturing violence and then string at helplessness at the demon of violence. Right from inception, the child is introduced to a world of violence: from beating as a corrective measure to depositing our frustration on the child who is unaware of the reason of such reaction. School life is dominated by the class bully who demands obedience through threats to squabbles that often culminate into physical fights. Cartoons of late have co-opted the language of violence through its representation of characters and once again it is wrapped in the tone of humour to sell it to the innocent minds without much ado. The valour and glamour associated with the conquest of territories is part of this collusion to awaken the tamed “violent self” that rests in each of us.
We are on a diet of violence, sometimes we protest against it, at other times we secretly derive pleasure as consumers. The greater the humiliation of the protagonist is, there more intense the revenge is; the more wounds that are inflicted upon the body of the “hero”, the more “exciting” will be the climax; the louder the cry of the a girl, the higher the joy ride of sexual assault will reach. The more grotesque details that meets our eye, more will our blood boil for revenge.
Every form of violence is repulsive and and deserves condemnation. A child labourer washing your dishes when she should be in school is as much a story of violence as that of a child being a victim of molestation. In the words of sociologist and anthropologist Raka Ray and Seemin Quaya, hierarchizing between and among violence and veiling violence behind the shield of the “rhetoric of love” cannot roll down curtain on the show of violence.
The demise of violence is only possible when we recognize the seed of violence within each one of us. We must uproot our violent tendency before it germinates and it is too late! If continue to maintain an atmosphere of violence within our own households and schools, how can we even dream of ending violence that plagues our societies. We are all obligated to look into ourselves and take active stands against violence wherever our lives take us.
My deepest condolences and empathy are with the children victim to the human atrocities in Peshawar and around the world.[Image attribute: Kashif Haque]