We all blog in gated communities. Not by choice, but it happens that way. We mostly read those people whose views we agree with. As a result on most personal blogs, the comments on each post read something like this:
- You’re so right!
- I couldn’t have said it better!
- I agree completely
- etc etc…
But what are we doing really? A lot of us blog on issues that matter to us. And I’d like some change to come about as a result of that. But it can’t happen if the only people I engage with are those who already agree with me! I need to go out, and talk to those who disagree with me. That way, I can learn how they really feel and get to understand them.
Fundamentally, I believe that everyone is decent and wants to do the right thing. I won’t go and take a superior attitude. I go with the intention to talk – with the understanding that we’re all decent folks. That way, I hope to not only get some of my main ideas across, I seek to understand why they feel the way they do. If I do that, perhaps some of my own opinions will change. And I’m willing to let that happen if it’s a better opinion based on logic. So here goes…
I started with this right wing post. The basic idea of the post is that Muslims and Christians are ganging up on Hindus to fight them. I made an honest attempt to engage in dialogue with those who commented in an attempt to understand where they’re coming from. It wasn’t easy – there were lots of ad hominem attacks on me questioning my education, my character, my motives etc.
One person even asked me why my blog has posts from 2006 when my domain name was registered only in 2008! When I explained that I was blogging on blogspot and migrated all my posts, this was the reply:
“That explains it man. The seeming timing mismatch of your blog posts is wonderfully explained just as I thought it would be. Though if I were you I’d have retained blogspot also, for record’s sake.”
54 comments later, I’m still trying to reach a proper dialogue with those are interested. But in spite of this, there were many cogent responses and some were partially cogent. From what I was able to understand these are the main points (I’m not passing judgment on any of these opinions as of now – I just want to understand):
- They feel that Muslims and other minorities are a threat to Hindus
- Minorities are trying to eradicate Hindu culture
- They feel that the “Liberals” and the “sophisticated intellectuals” forgive the Muslims anything but severely criticize any violation by a Hindu group
For my part, I kept finding these recurring themes:
- A willingness to generalize. The word “Muslims” encompasses every single Muslim with no allowances made for the vast majority of non violent members
- Many refuse to discuss a particular incident against Muslims (like the Godhra riots) and bring in all the other incidents of violence by Muslims they can remember. They do this because they feel that Muslims are getting a “free pass” by the press and society in general while any violation by Hindus is decried strongly.
I want to dispel some of the paranoia here. If those on the right are reading this, let me set the record straight:
- No violence is ever excused. If the violence is committed by a Muslim, they will be criticized as much as possible. Many bloggers have dedicated posts talking about injustices by the Taliban and how stupid fatwas harm soceity etc…
- We have nothing against Hindus and Hindu culture. We all have the right to follow any Hindu tradition we like as long as it’s in accordance with the law and the Constitution. Our Constitution is an expansive one. This means that you can do almost anything you want and no one has the right to stop you. If someone tries, all of us “liberal” bloggers will back you up and roundly denounce those who want to stop you from following your traditions irrespective of whether they’re Muslim, or Christian or any other religion.
- Our biggest concern is that innocent people will get caught up in any acts of retaliation against a particular community. That is why we denounce statements against “Muslims” in general – it’s because there are lots of innocent and non violent Muslims who don’t deserve hatred.
- Importantly, none of us are trying to downplay incidents of Islamic terror. Everyone cannot focus on everything. You have our deepest respect and admiration if you wish to address injustices to Hindus or Sikhs – like the 1984 Sikh massacre. Let’s use our strength in numbers to fight everything and not to bring in other incidents of violence when we’re discussing one particular incident. Let’s bring all the guilty people to justice without getting in one another’s way!
And most importantly, let’s not be at cross purposes. We all want to address injustices to everyone and anyone. Let’s have a dialogue instead of abusing one another. I assure you, we want to do what’s right – and I’m sure you do too. We’re in the Internet age and have the tools of communication. Let’s use this communication to achieve something that has never been done before – achieve harmony, or at least an understanding of where the other side is coming from.
I’m going to be commenting on your blogs from now on and I encourage you to read those written by liberals. Let’s put in some effort to understand where we’re coming from. I suggest tools like guest posts where you can air your views and we can do the same. Let’s be creative.