Tuesday, August 6, 2019

How the Jammu & Kashmir crisis reveals our deepest prejudices

Ever since the current government decided to remove the two sections and declare Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh as union territories, there seems to so much uproar about how it is so right, or it is so wrong.

Without judging either side of the story, my point is, in the last 70 odd years, the situation of Kashmir has naturally only worsened. Whilst the people of Kashmir were exploited on the name of religion and common interests, they were the ones suffering. We were all fine with our lives going along at a fast pace with our children studying what they want to in India or abroad. We have seen our cities coming up with new flyovers, infrastructure, malls, employment opportunities, FDI and so much more. It didn’t take too much for us to see Kashmir as a sore point in our version of India’s map and forget it to get on with our lives. Most people who are now either celebrating or objecting are those who had nothing to do with Jammu & Kashmir whatsoever, before this step was taken.

Then why is suddenly Kashmir everyone’s favourite topic now? Not because we have suddenly started caring so much about the people there. No that’s not the case however many of us would like to believe so. So, what’s the answer? It’s simple. We love to judge and events like these are perfect opportunities to judge under the garb of supporting someone or opposing someone.

Have you ever noticed how much more engaging emotions like judgment, blame, anger, resentment etc bring to our life and how peace and love become too boring to live through constantly? Even though as an evolving species we have realised that negative emotions do not take us where we belong and we would rather stay in peace and harmony within, but are we still not so easily tempted to judge, blame, fear and prove our points whenever an opportunity arrives?

The truth is that the Kashmir valley could stay in the state that it is or even worsen had our bilateral peace talks and other stuff that has been done over the years would have continued. The valley’s issues are too complicated and any conflict when left unresolved for several decades, layers and layers of conflicts get piled on. In that pile, trying to find the real issue is a waste since everything in that pile is by then the issue. It’s a big web. The only way to resolve it then is to move forward out of the pile somehow and then collect the reminiscent pieces to understand and resolve them one by one. Movement in any direction is better than staying stuck hoping for the stuckedness to vanish one day.

Whenever a big change happens, it will mean rearrangement of a lot of things. A lot of people will be pushed out of their comfort zones, a lot will resist the new, however many will embrace it too. A change of this magnitude couldn’t have happened through approval of all or by making everyone happy. Thus, I think shifting the focus to moving forward in whatever direction that looked like the right one was a wise choice. The question of who’s choice it was, I think it might look like it was one person’s choice but finally, all choices are the collective outcome of those who’s fates are attached to that choice. By virtue of choosing a government with an absolute majority, we have chosen and trusted it to make choices on our behalf in a way that they deem the best. I think if we elect someone, we ought to place this much trust in our choice of choosing them.

Those who don’t like BJP will disagree because BJP took this decision, those who fear losing democracy will believe that’s where we are headed, those who love Modi will without even understanding why they are supporting him will become his spokesperson, those who carry biases in their hearts based on religion will fear for their religious autonomy, the one who’s jealous of the special privileges of Kashmir will be happy they lost them, those who are always worried about their future will find themselves very concerned about the future of the valley too and so on.

It’s ingrained in our psyche to justify a current non-acceptance by the way of seeing it bring a dark and grim future. The future, people, hasn’t been created yet. No one can see it or predict it. Though what we can see as the future is what is unacceptable to us now. I am sure when these sections were applied on the state of Jammy & Kashmir, the future people saw of the valley, including its residents was bright and prosperous. However, the current situation reveals how wrong that hope was. So how the future will pan out to be will be seen only in the future. However, to reach that future, it is imperative for us to move forward in this moment and embrace every experience believing there is a far bigger the consciousness of Kashmir, this country and this planet that are choosing these experiences which we may or may not agree to now.

I feel if we understand our personal reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with this decision, it will give us deep insight into our own inherent stereotypes, prejudices and fears. If each one can do this, this event can truly serve to bring a huge consciousness shift within us and hence within the masses. That’s truly going to be a resolution when this experience makes us more inclusive, tolerant, loving and compassionate with even those whom we disagree with.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Emotional Intelligence

A woman I know allowed herself to get abused by her husband, only so that she could prove to her parents that she was an abiding daughter who knew how to ‘compromise’ and ‘sacrifice’. Another man I know has been accepting being controlled and dominated by his wife, only because if he doesn’t put up with her way of doing things, she starts to shout and scream at not only him but also his old parents who live with him. Another couple I witnessed, who are in marital disharmony for a long time and they spend more time being depressed about their life or fighting with each other, than they do with their children and yet they think they are doing this for their children.

We have been brought up in a society which sees stability, happiness and bliss in marriage or rather marriage as the basis of these experiences. If one goes back in the evolutionary process, it becomes evident that marriage is a concept that evolved with time, mostly to ensure that women do not become prey to several men due to the higher sexual needs of the masculine and hence one man can take ownership of the woman where he is allowed to satisfy his needs through her, she can also experience herself through him and they both form a unit that another third person cannot permeate. Another purpose this concept served was procreation which was natural and yet there was a need for someone to take the responsibility of the infant, so it was best left to every unit to have their own infants, protect them, nourish them and then allow them to become ready for procreation.

Looking at from a third person perspective, what was the unit getting by taking care of the infants that were born to them? They demanded time, money, attention and a lot of effort. They even many times became an interference in the personal space of the couple. Yet, people went on pro-creating for two reasons. The first was there was identity that got attached to who I am, and that identification as DNA was passed over to the next generation so they further strengthened the identity by extending the name, identity, legacy, whatever one might choose to believe. Coming from a world of no order, Identity served as a great identifier of one’s uniqueness, making them something from nothing.

This identity was that of the couple but since the man was the stronger one, and the woman needed the man to protect her and take care of her whilst she took care of her womb and nurturing the younger ones, it was easy for the man to claim the identity as his own. Since the woman was physically weak and needed her man to be strong, she unknowingly contributed to allowing him to believe in him being more even at the cost of her own self being perceived as less. This perceived weakness gave the woman the right to cry on the shoulders of her man. He, however, was to protect himself from others and protect his family too. He couldn’t cry, even if he was scared, he couldn’t accept his fear because he was expected to be strong. He was meant to succeed since now his failure would also ruin so many other lives. Hence, he slipped into denial. He started to convince himself that he is strong, that weakness is not his thing, that he cannot cry, that he can deal with anything and everything. Herds of men started to reiterate this to each other since internally all of them were struggling with their inherent fears of survival and yet they had to project strength. Emotions signified weakness and vulnerability. Thus, the one who could deny his emotions the most became the strongest man.

Emotions cannot be suppressed and if they are, eventually they do reveal themselves as diseases and other physical issues. Both genders have suffered in this evolutionary process because both carried an emotional body within them that was either suppressed or overloaded.

Our education system teaches us everything but nothing about emotional well-being. Each new generation to an extent gets trapped in the fears and expectations of the previous, because whilst we were all growing and prospering physically and mentally, our emotional side was considered a lack that was dealt with mostly with the intent to get rid of the emotions as fast as possible. Our inherent definition of ‘Happiness’ is lack of unhappiness, sadness and misery. We never learned to develop the ability to be happy in whatever we have. We instead decided that we can create happiness by eradicating sadness and misery, even if it means cutting off from people, relationships, situations, places and maybe ourselves.

We are so involved in teaching our children about their strengths and enhancing them that we forgot to help them identify and gracefully accept their weaknesses. We instead condemned them, compared them and whipped them for anything that was less than perfect for that reminded us of our own imperfections that we have so skillfully suppressed and denied.

Marriage or Pro-creation both are ways for us to understand our inherent power to love and create more love. They are beautiful expressions of our limitless being which experiences its limitlessness through the infinite emotions that we go through. It is more a need than ever that we develop emotional intelligence, which isn’t about “managing” emotions but rather about plain simple acceptance of them. We need to learn and teach that it’s ok to fail, it’s ok if a relationship isn’t working out, it’s ok if your child isn’t perfect, it’s ok if your parenting isn’t perfect, it’s ok if you don’t love your partner, it’s ok if you feel vulnerable and fragile. Putting the burden of our denial of emotions and need to project strength is taking a toll on the marriage, on our children, on the society and hence there is a growing projection of fakeness where on social media everything looks hunky-dory, but the reality is grim and painful.

Let’s allow ourselves unconditional acceptance of ourselves. Most things that are bothering us constantly in our minds are things that just need us to say “What if this is so…what if I have failed…what if it didn’t work out how I thought it would…what if I didn’t get it today…what if I will have to walk on a different path…what if I am sad…what if I feel lonely today…”

Friday, March 22, 2019

Clown Wisdom

Today I think of clowns. They are the funniest people who make us laugh, yet there are novels and movies that projected a clown as mysterious and evil.


I have always felt scared of clowns more than I enjoyed them, which is something I noticed today when I accidentally came across a picture of a clown on the internet. In my growing up years, I read Stephen King's IT which was later in my teenage years adapted into a TV series and then into a motion picture. It was the story of how hell broke loose on a bunch of kids due to the evil intentions of the clown. I actually don't even fully remember the story or just remember some mixed version from the book and TV serial.

Today when I think about it, I realised the thing that scared me about the clown being the evil character, more than if any normal person would have been the Villian was that I couldn't see his face. His face was unrecognizable. The clown revealed to me what I cannot see and yet is evil. What you can see, to an extent it feels like you can control since you can also see it's boundaries. By seeing it's boundaries, one can define their own boundaries(read limitations) and provision to counter what doesn't seem to be within the scope of their abilities. 

The clown, however, is mysterious since his face cannot be recognised, he could be anyone, he seems to be limitless in his ability to think, feel and become for he can mimic people, play different emotions and jump from one state of being to another within no time. He is thus unpredictable and can bring upon the experience of the unknown in way that one can be left helpless not having enough provisions to counter, stop or soften their experience.

If we are prepared to face whatever is within with grace and acceptance then having a clown around isn't such a bad idea. They can be entertaining. However, most of us fear what they might reveal hence keep them away for they challenge our trust in our own wisdom.

Art by an unknown artist

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