Recently, a lot of my literary input has been about the chaos in the USA thanks to the Trump election and, closer home, the move of demonetizing approximately 80% of currency by the Narendra Modi government. I react to both from a place of cynicism of leaders with histories of bad choices particularly when it comes to the common man or woman. It also comes from a place of being genetically and socially programmed to stand up to bullies, who’re picking on the little guy and making him pay them to bully him further.
I fucking hate it.
I fucking hate it.
But the bigger distress comes from the inability of some of my friends to see this bullying and respond to it as such - with rage and strength. Instead, I hear them say things like (I paraphrase of course) “it’s always been this way, chill!” or “Hey, people we know are not being bullied so relax” or even “Look, it’s for everyone's future, because the little guy will build character and we will have a strong nation in the future… If someone dies, that’s just “survival of the fittest” which is the law of the jungle…” (Suddenly, it’s okay to ascribe to the Law of the Jungle even though we live in cities built on man-made rules). All this while, the little guy cowers in the corner, his present survival taking precedence over an abstract future.
I’m quite appalled by the lack of empathy that exists among a lot of the privileged fucks I call friends who dare to sit in their 2-bedroom apartments while calling themselves “average citizens”. I mean, there’s an entire internet available for reading, a skill that they all have thanks to fairly expensive educations and there are several credible sources on it who are leaning in on these two major issues with their thoughts, all of which and much more additional material is available to us to ponder upon. And yet, it seems for many, bullying is okay, because it’s always been around, because it builds character and because, ultimately, it’s not really affecting any of ours.
They ask me why I’m afraid, why I’m “panicking" - after all, it’s still early days and who knows what will happen in the future. I’m panicking because I read. I’m panicking because I remember my history lessons and I’m panicking because things like “post-truth” (a disdain for facts) are becoming the norm. I’m panicking because when I look around at people I consider(ed?) friends, imagining them to have the same approach to bullying as I, I find them fielding for the bully’s team.
While I am among the privileged few that neither the US election nor the Indian demonetisation has affected in the slightest, my life has still changed. I’m furious with this nonsense because now, the number of people I could hang out with over a casual drink without wanting to punch them has plummeted even more. I'm afraid of picking up the phone and talking to someone and meeting them because sooner or later, something will be said that will put them firmly on one or other side of the conversation or worse, make them "ambivalent".
Mark Twain wasn’t that far off when he said that as much as he gets to know people, he increasingly prefers the company of his dog.
In my case however, it appears to be just me and my cat.