“The darkest places in Hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.” – Dante Aleghieri
Before I begin, let me ask you a question. Or questions, for that matter.
Do you believe in neutrality? Or, is it communality that you believe in? Do you prefer to remain on neutral grounds or do you identify yourself with a particular community, at every chance you get?
If it’s the latter, then this post doesn’t concern you. But if you’re the former, then I have a further set of questions for you. (You must be wondering if this is some sort of a questionnaire or something. Rest assured that it isn’t.)
Can you remain neutral in a severely polarised world of today? …Where every man is for himself and everything that he’s affiliated to? Can you remain neutral when suddenly whatever you say or do is noted and then linked back to who you are and what you believe in? And how long does one remain neutral (or tolerant) until it becomes just a little too much to keep quiet? Until it starts to threaten one’s beliefs.
I’ve been asking these questions to myself for quite some days now.
I’m a quiet person by nature and usually prefer to not take sides or get into a controversial discussion until I know both sides of the matter. But, what I’ve been made to realise is that I can’t please everyone at the same time.
What began as a small and seemingly innocent RIP message for a little Muslim girl on a Facebook post (I prayed that Allaah SWT grants her Jannah) turned into a shadow that’s been following me ever since. It has made me question my beliefs, which is new, at least for me.
The level of insensitivity people have reached is beyond comprehension. A perfect example of it was given by a woman who jumped on the chance to provoke an outburst by claiming, in reply to my comment, that there was no such God and that the girl had gone to Jesus.
I ask you, was there a need for such a reaction to such a saddening post? A 5-year old just died a painful death (she had brain tumour) and all you care about is how a random person expresses her grief, or wishes her well for the next life?! She could’ve wished her well in her own way in a separate comment!
This was the first time that I was subjected to a thing like that and it actually made me feel vulnerable. It made me feel weak and look for shortcomings in my own Faith! But thank heavens, I know better.
I’m quite pleased to report though, that I didn’t need to defend myself. Some people sorted it out for me. And I was surprised and warmed to note that one of them was a Christian woman who was laudably rational and not blinded by hate.
What I mean to say by reporting this incident is even neutrality or tolerance (if they can be used interchangeably) has its limits. It cannot be taken for granted in a person and trampled on. You cannot expect someone to remain neutral or tolerant (not to mention, mute) even after riling them up, either about their religion, their ethnicity or race. It’s like prodding a lion in deep slumber.
I’m not likening myself to a lion, for I cannot be that ferocious, but it did vex me a lot. It even triggered me to share it with my classmates, which is very unusual for an introvert like me. And that was how the debate on neutrality took shape. Well, an internal debate, for the most part because I never argued with others over it.
What my teacher said that day still astonishes me. Or, maybe that’s only how I see it. Because in his defence, he was only teaching what he had been assigned to teach us. After I’d shared my incident with the whole class, he told us to refrain from engaging ourselves in controversial discussions based on people’s beliefs. For it does not have any fruitful end and that it throws a negative light on an individual’s personality, which can sometimes even result in isolation of that particular individual.
To an extent, I do agree with him. But it was the same teacher who taught us that personality is just a pose, a mask. It is what we show people that we are. While from the inside, it’s a whole different story. And the strongest people are those who are not afraid to show exactly who they are from the inside.
To my understanding, it’s a hypocritical concept, this personality. We may be good from the outside, but if that modicum of hate is slowly gnawing at our insides, the mask will soon fall. How will we explain ourselves then?
And I’ve figured that if I mean well, why should I care about what people think of me? They’re bound to think ill of me anyway, somehow.
What with almost the whole of my country adorning saffron colours, the beef ban, the talk of implementation of UCC for all and such other news making the rounds, no one having an opinion can remain neutral or mute.
And why should it be the Aam Aadmi, more specifically the Muslim Aam Aadmi, who should remain neutral? Why is it that our, relatively less educated, leaders have the right to pulverise the society and push us to conform to their rules, while we are advised to keep silent and not bring up any of the taboo subjects at all?!
And most importantly, why is it our teachers themselves who take the responsibility of gagging us? Shouldn’t they be preparing us otherwise?
This fear of opposing our leaders has gripped us all so much that we’ve forgotten our Constitution grants us Freedom of Speech. We are a democratic country, for the Constitution’s sake!
By the by, I’ve decided to screw personality. If people are bound to hate me, they’d do so without my saying anything. And those who actually know me, wouldn’t waste their time hating me.
After all, personality is only a front, character is what’s real.