Insightful newsletter of Drishtikone: Issue #141 - Paroxysms of outrage and Social Good

(Wynwood Walls, Miami brings the best Graffiti artists / Photo by Juan Pablo Mascanfroni on Unsplash)

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” ― John Steinbeck


What we call as life, is an existential process. Beyond the cusp of matter and energy. What life uses to frolic around in the physical world is not life itself, but its accompaniments.

That life is eternal and infinite. Physicality is temporary. And we have made it fleeting by our lack of attention.

That fleeting nature creates issues in our physical structure which are misaligned with life itself.

That in itself is violence.

The battle of being and becoming.

In that violence arises crime. Calibrating the fleeting will not impact the physical or social issues. The touch of the existential will.

Let us look at the fundamental source of the issues and not let the facades and make-believe overwhelm us.


THANK YOU: Am truly grateful to our readers Rajivji, Anilaji, and Muraliji for their contributions to Drishtikone. Thank you so much.


the Hathras rape and the outrage

A 20-year old girl was cutting grass for fodder in the field when 4 rapists dragged her with her dupatta and gang-raped her. She received life-threatening injuries due to which she was admitted to J N Medical College Hospital in Aligarh and then to Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital.

On September 29th, she succumbed to her injuries.

All four accused have been arrested and three of the four are related to each other. The mother of one of the accused has said that the main cause was a family feud (Source).

The feminist site “shethepeople” has a list of “10 things to know about the Hathras Gang Rape case.” In such a terrible tragedy, what do you think the feminists are most concerned about? What is the #1 thing that they want us to know? Who the victim was? How she suffered? Who the criminals are? How the tragedy occurred?

Heck no!

The caste equation!

And although many other rapes, lot of them as terrible, (every rape is terrible though) have been committed recently, this is the one which has been “picked up” for outrage by certain sections.

Why?

Because it is in a BJP ruled state with a “Dalit victim” and “Upper Caste rapists”.

What a perfect scenario for outrage with a political motive in India!

We have created an industry of selective outrage.

One is not trivializing this tragedy. It should not be. But outrage - that too selective outrage - is as demonic as the tragedy the outraged wants the focus on. For her/his outrage, the anger and the shouting were never honest, to begin with! It was just a facade.

Facades don’t look for truth or justice. Facades look for the limelight.

Quite away from the actual feelings and sense of justice of one and the quiet resolve to improve the world, this faux-outrage creates two groups:

  1. One, which is outraged, not because that is how they are but out of an obligation and social expectation. How can you not shout from your Twitter or Facebook account that you are outraged and have all the right hashtags jumping out?

  2. Second, a group which is afflicted (for society thinks it is a disease) with an absence of outrage, because that seems meaningless. That is immediately branded as cowardice, resignation, and quietism.

Constant and loud noise is potent in its ubiquitousness as it leads to a sense of false urgency. And its expression, false as it is - leaves us with a sense of achievement and fulfillment.

With nothing achieved, no change effected, the pornographic dance of outrage leaves us poorer, weaker, and a completely impotent society.

We are as powerful as our last hashtag.

the self-serving outrage - a study

An interesting study by Bowdoin College in Maine and the University of Southern Mississippi - shared a series of fake/fabricated news articles to the subjects. They were about labor exploitation and climate change. (Source)

Climate change articles: Half of the participants got articles saying that Americans were the biggest culprits of the man-made climate change, while the others read articles that blamed the Chinese.

The labor exploitation articles linked the bad conditions for the kids in those countries to the very lives of the participants themselves. How the products they bought contributed to child labor and poor working conditions etc.

The results were eye-opening. Moral outrage, the researchers found was really self-serving.

Personal guilt led to anger: When the participant felt that s/he was in some way responsible for the crime, the anger was more. That is why you see so many leftists writers make it a point to discuss the uselessness of Goddess-worship by Hindus when any rape happens. The religious connotation is to serve many purposes. Self-hate and anger at the impotence of one’s religious structure - pushed by the narrative on rape is the goal.

Guilt leads to an urge to punish: When guilt comes, the urge is to punish the 3rd party. The study found that those who feel guilt want stricter punishment for the perceived criminals.

Expression of outrage made you less guilty: When the blame-America group had expressed its outrage, it had significantly lower levels of guilt than the blame-China group. That anger, that urge to punish had an antidote - outrage.

Outrage impacts sense of morality: Before the outrage, the blame-America group had a much lower sense of personal moral character. But it all changed dramatically once they got the chance to express outrage.

You see, nothing of value had happened. No one was helped. No one was better off. Climate was still screwed up. Their personal link to the crimes was as is.

Outrage added to a sense of personal moral worth. Faux-morality.

Outrage has become the new energy mechanism that runs our lives and economies even.

the Outrage economy

Think of it, how often have you seen someone who has been stopped by the police in India suddenly start shouting at the hawaldar and abusing with a sense of power and outrage - “how dare you even stop me? Don’t you know who I am?” It is an outrage of an entitled person.

If you went to a bank and things are not moving, do you see a similar abusive interaction and outrage?

Whether you want to cut corners, make yourself heard, break the law, speed up the process, get attention - there is only one tool now.

Outrage.

In a country where farmers worship their tools and implements, we have just seen a “farmer protest” (or so it was presented) where the so-called farmers burned their own tractor!

The more outlandish the outrage, the more spectacular its scale, the bigger news it is. And, more satisfaction and moral satisfaction it leaves you with.

Outrage is not just self-serving but counter-productive

If the outrage, even self-serving, transient, and faux could help the society focus on the issue, one could still understand its efficacy. But a Stanford study shows that outrage has the opposite impact.

According to research published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, the latter is more likely. The paper looked at the impact of viral outrage on convincing observers that an offender is blameworthy — and found that as outrage increased, observers believed it was “more normative” to express condemnation, but simultaneously believed that outrage was excessive and felt more sympathy for the offender. (Source)

Expression of outrage gradually becomes a ritual or group norm, while people start developing a sense of sympathy for the target of the outrage.

What about the rape?

A rape is a rape.

It is not a Dalit rape, Brahmin rape, Hindu rape, Muslim rape, Caste rape, Congress rape, or a BJP rape.

It is the violation of a human being. A vulnerable human being.

So, let us be sensitive and more critically, be responsive to every crime and indignation that any being suffers.

The thing is the sensitivity of a person to someone, in particular, is not possible in a real sense. For it is not a property of or dependent on the object of that responsiveness - but a quality that you have. Or not.

Either you are responsive. Or are not.

You cannot be responsive to X and not to Y.

When you are responsive, then you will be inclusive of both X and Y in equal measure. You may act more closely for one given different conditions (proximity, relationship, time etc); but that does not preclude your ability to include the other within the realm of your own being.

When you are capable of that, then you cannot differentiate.

And, that is the only way you can do justice in real sense. If you aren’t inclusive of all, you cannot be oblivious of the other and be just to your own. No matter the level of intensity and urgency you associate with the action for your own, it will also be made-up. It will fail to look at the good in its real sense.

So let’s look at rape - or any other crime - the way it is. And approach it to resolve the issues that perpetuate it within our societies.

That will require us to evaluate so many things of our own.

Can we make a real personal transformation? Are we committed to extending it to a social transformation?

Is it a fundamental transformation or are we looking at just some cursory changes via laws and plugging the problem using the force of the state? For, that has its limitations. Look at how it has happened in the US, with so many incarcerations without any real change!

Listen to Sadhguru discuss the issue of rape in a very dispassionate but useful manner.

Babri Masjid decision

The special CBI court has said that there was no conclusive proof against the 32 accused of Babri Masjid. These were the main points of that verdict:

  • Judge SK Yadav said that the demolition of Babri Masjid was spontaneous and not pre-planned.

  • The structure was demolished by anti-social elements. The involvement of the accused, direct or indirect, was not found, the judge said.

  • Ashok Singhal and other Sangh Parivar leaders wanted to save the structure as Ram Lalla statues were inside, the court said.

  • The court said a local intelligence report had cautioned in advance that an unexpected sequence of events can take place on December 6 but it was left unattended.

  • The court said that there is no conclusive proof against the accused.

  • “The video cassettes were not sealed and even the videos were not clear and as such the same cannot be relied upon,” observed the judge.

  • The special CBI judge in his order said prosecution’s charge that a meeting was held at the house of Vinay Katiyar on the eve of the demolition where the conspiracy to raze the structure was hatched, was left unsubstantiated. A video of the meeting was presented as evidence. The court said that the video evidence didn't prove that any conspiracy was hatched.

  • "About the photographs, the court said that the negatives were available but the CBI could not produce the negatives. Also, the video recordings were fabricated and tampered with. CBI did not follow the provisions of 65 Evidence Act, that is why all accused were acquitted on the basis of lack of evidence," the counsel for Sakshi Maharaj, Prashant Singh Atal said.

The so-called Babri Masjid was a structure that was a disgrace to any religion and certainly the humanity. A despot whose only aim and work was to destroy and humiliate the Indian culture created a structure by destroying a temple. While most Muslim scholars agree that a mosque built by destroying another place of worship is unIslam, very few actually came out against this structure by Babar. If indeed a structure built on another place of worship is unIslamic, then it was never a mosque, to begin with. So, taking the Islamic scholars on face value when it comes to Islamic theology, one can only find the worth of that structure in terms of how it commemorated a despot’s attempt to humiliate the Hindus of the day.

It was akin to a structure that, say Hitler may have created by breaking down the most important synagogue and killing thousands of Jews in the process - just to gloat about his power. Such a structure has no place in any sane society. To even call it a mosque is to denigrate Islam!

nota bene

Covid-19 deaths pass 1 million worldwide: There are over 6.25 million confirmed cases in India and 7.1 million confirmed cases in the U.S. and close to 34 million confirmed cases worldwide. So far, close to a 100,000 Indians and over 206,000 Americans have died from Covid-19. (Source)

Pak Army on hire to Azerbaijan?: Pakistan's role in the ongoing war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh has been revealed. The revelation came from a telephonic conversation that the Pakistani Army is also involved in this fight on behalf of Azerbaijan. (Source)

Russia does most nation-state cyber attacks: Russia-based hackers are responsible for the majority of nation-state attacks on Microsoft customers, according to new data from the company. Microsoft Corp. has issued 13,000 alerts about nation-state hacking attempts to its customers in the last two years, with 52% of incidents between July 2019 and June 2020 related to Russian hackers -- whose targets have ranged from elections to the Olympics, according to a report published Tuesday. Iran was responsible for a quarter of the alerts while China was responsible for 12%. The remainder of the nation-state activity observed by Microsoft came from North Korea and other countries. Russian hackers have targeted elections and political organizations in multiple countries, as well as non-profit groups, professional services, and higher education, according to Microsoft. Kremlin-linked hackers also tried to break into 16 sporting and anti-doping organizations on three continents amid doping investigations into Russian athletes. (Source)

Percentage of matter in the Universe: The universe is made up of three things - normal matter, dark matter, and dark energy. Everything from stars, planets and all cosmic objects is composed of matter, as are the atoms that exist even in our own bodies. But the matter is not all that makes up the universe, and on the cosmic scale, it is hard to determine exactly how much is normal matter, and how much is the rest of the stuff. In a team of scientists from the University of California, Riverside claim they have made the most accurate measurement of the matter in the universe. And normal matter and dark matter combined make up 31.5 percent of the matter-energy density of the Universe. The remaining 68.5 percent is dark energy. (Source)

Super-enzyme that eats plastic: A super-enzyme that degrades plastic bottles six times faster than before has been created by scientists and could be used for recycling within a year or two. The super-enzyme, derived from bacteria that naturally evolved the ability to eat plastic, enables the full recycling of the bottles. Scientists believe combining it with enzymes that break down cotton could also allow mixed-fabric clothing to be recycled. Today, millions of tonnes of such clothing are either dumped in landfills or incinerated. (Source)

caring for everyone - an Irishman in Rajasthan

This is such a humbling story of how one man is on a mission to clean and operationalize the baulis in Rajasthan. Please watch it.

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