Why keep it in when you can scream it out?
This post is largely inspired by John Green’s Crash Course on World History and what I intend to really analyse here is the ease with which everyone judges everyone else without really looking at themselves and the inability to accept that someone else may be equally right, if not you being entirely wrong.
The 21st century has seen the world becoming increasingly intolerant and this is because of several reasons – relative decrease in resources when compared to a burgeoning population, in hindsight, selfish and ultimately boomeranging decisions by governments to address the aforementioned, 9/11 and the slew of terrorist attacks after it across the globe, the increase in terrorist groups and their geographic and demographic influence, the very real threat of nuclear warfare coupled with the fact that most countries now possess nuclear weapons and/or nuclear weapons’ manufacturing technology; and just for shits and giggles, the Geographical theory of Criminology may be expanded to reason out that global warming has caused all of humanity to become more irritable and prone to vehement behavior than our previous century ancestors.
Religion has been dragged into this pungent and boiling cauldron and has become at its best, a bone of contention and at its worst, extreme polarization of the society. Now I can be clichéd and start of this part by defining what Oxford or Mirriam-Webster defines religion as and then descend into a pontification on how every religion preaches the same core values, etc but you can find better definitions and no doubt better posts that can do that. So I’ll try to give you a brief (I apologize if it doesn’t end up being so) explanation of my post title and assume you are aware of, even if you might not believe, the following premises:
Excellent! Now that I’ve got you reading thus far, I want you to think about whether a religious state, like the Islamic Caliphate which the ISIS or ISIL or IS (okay, like Zomato’s icon conundrum, they’re still experimenting around for the perfect terrifying and awe-inspiring name) wants to establish, would really be such a bad idea? If you’re one of those persons who are blindly led by popular culture and the media, and “if the whole world is saying it’s wrong, it must be wrong, right?”, not only do you have to read up and get spooked by a lot of conspiracy theories regarding brainwashing, you also need to pay careful attention to what I’m going to say below.
A religious state is either one that draws the authority for its existence from the sanction of God or one that has a state religion and the profession, practice and propagation of the religion is taken upon actively by the State and laws will, if not advocate the State religion’s principles, they definitely would not contradict them. And what, exactly, is wrong with that? Christianity teaches us about sacrifice, Hinduism about Dharma, Buddhism about suffering and the circle of life and Islam itself means submission (to God). Sure, it’s mainstream these days to go all “pro-secularism” and “pro-democracy” but just like historians were and are prone to historical bias, how well, really, are secularism and democracy doing in today’s world?
Secularism – the belief that all individuals should be treated equally irrespective of their religious faiths and that all religions are equal in the eyes of the State. Good enough as an ideal, right? (It must be; it’s incorporated in our own Constitution’s preamble) but just look around you – we hate each other! Quotas in minority institutions, vote banking on religions by politicians and when the opposite side wins, the followers of the religion that got vote banked are now afraid they’ll get marginalized, then there’s fights over whether to build a church or mosque or temple in a particular stretch of property (that will most likely abut the road and then will take over 39.43% of the road causing, ultimately, the motorists to suffer) that will turn violent and bloody if allowed to escalate without police intervention and let’s not even go into the disowning and subsequent banishment of couples of inter-religious love marriages…basically, while on the physical surface, we’re all gung ho about being secular and respecting all, below the surface on a more causal and subtle level, we are probably more intolerant today than we were during the British colonialism. Yes, we were ruled by white masters but no, there were very few, if any, incidents of communal riots (till they decided to milk the divide and rule policy anyway).
And there you are Democracy! A government of the people, by the people, and for the people, democracy obviously leads us to principles of equality and the sovereignty of the people: a lofty goal and once again, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. In a few months from today, our help is going to go to her village in my neighboring state where assembly elections will be held, of course to exercise her right of universal adult franchise but also because she gets paid Rs. 5,000 to vote for a particular party that her village panchayat has chosen *cough* been bought *cough* for the village to support. Smarter voters accept money from all parties and then blow it up on booze on the voting day. So that’s transparency in the election system. Then there exists the ever present sidekick to our hero self government – corruption. Indians are tired of this word and even the tender coconut seller can tell you more in the interval it takes you to bargain from Rs. 25 to the Rs. 10 you continue to think it is (“and if it isn’t, it should be, dammit!”) and finally remove your wallet containing 5 credit cards, crisp Rs. 500 notes and give him the most bedraggled Rs. 20 note to exist in circulation this side of the Tropic of Cancer (Yay! Don’t you love how democracy promotes social equity?) than I can in an entire category devoted to the topic so let’s just leave it at that. The bureaucracy plays around with our tax money, the rich get richer while the poor get poorer, there’s more 0’s in credit balances in Swiss Bank accounts than mosquitoes in malaria infested stagnant water, if you’re rich and/ or politically connected, the criminal justice system is just a suggestion, but hey, all of this was our own choice so at least there’s that! Let me digress here a bit and tell you this awesome and sickening piece of irony: the word democracy comes from the Greeks and their model of the government and the same Athenians (one of the city-states of Greece) said “The strong do what they can while the weak suffer what they must”. Hypocrisy related things *sniffs proud tears* So while I may have just bombarded you with the worst of it and clearly suppressed the good stuff, we can still relatively conclude that in implementation, it isn’t all that ideal a system. And could this probably be that because there’s no one superior to the people in a democracy, nobody is afraid of being, well, smite-ed for doing wrong?
But most of all, what sort of people have been produced as a result of, oops, let’s get generic here, “exposure to western culture”, that the radicals are hell bent on fighting against and reversing? Could there really be any, dare I say it, problems with the “Western ideology”?
What I’m trying to say here is that it’s not a new claim to want to build a State along religious lines. The “Hobby-Lobby” decision in the USA ruled against the Obamacare mandate that certain companies would be required to pay for specific types of contraceptives for their employees. Both corporations involved in the ruling — Conestoga Wood Specialties of Pennsylvania and Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma-based arts-and-crafts retail giant — emphasized their conscientious desire to operate in harmony with biblical principles while competing in a secular marketplace. In the 5-4 decision, the 5 conservative judges ruled in favor of closely held for-profit businesses — those with at least 50% of stock held by five or fewer people, such as family-owned businesses — in which the owners have clear religious beliefs. What is this if not allowing for religious beliefs to trump (if in a small section) over what is thought better for the so-called “secular” community? The Supreme Court in India refused to decriminalize homosexuality because it recognized that Indian society as a whole was not ready for that kind of radical reformation which would have only been struck down by the religious extremist backed Parliament.
It’s all a question of what the society will be amenable to and while I in no way advocate for the radicals or the extremists or the republicans or the democrats, what I wanted to say with this post was that these are complex issues and no one really can state with certainty that one form of government is superior to another, especially in today’s easy to erupt world of act first think later and religious bigotry. There are ways to make even the most sophisticated system fail and even the most rudimentary system succeed. It’s a matter of people deciding whether they want to make the system work or if they want to find the loopholes in it.