Why on earth…

“Ashwin is safe” said the transcontinental ‘sms’ that came in at night.

Realized the next day, that Ashwin, my cousin’s son, studies at Virginia Tech, and that he was one of those who was in the hostel that fateful day…

World is small….what happened at Virginia Tech is not a local event…it has ripples all over the world, and in real time….it could just as easily happen anywhere else – considering that the TV is spawning a ‘least common denominator’ kind of culture, worldwide….

Then again, Virginia Tech has teachers and students from many different parts of the world…kind of microcosm of the global campus…It sure would have been a real ideal sort of global village until this crazy event happened….a friend of mine who studied there some years ago, wrote in “….My alma mater……….tranquility and peace that I experienced for two and a half years, walking the drill field, passing Norris Hall and toward the dorm and across to my department, destroyed by this meaningless massacre.”

Another friend from US had this to say about the bizarre-hap:

“This event is a symptom not a cause. Statistically in every country there may be more or less the same percentage of people with the propensity to kill.   

However, in the US we have: 

1. a declining sense of family and community
2. easy access to material that glorifies violence (dehumanize killing) and porn (dehumanize women)
3. incredibly easy access to lethal killing machines

All of this possibly contributes to events like this.

What is sad is that India risks going down the path of points 1 and 2. In India we are so focused on the West and the gift of globalization that anyone questioning the God of Growth will probably be burned at the stake today.  Fortunately we don’t have guns being sold at Big Bazars in Bangalore or we could see events like this in India in a few years…”

But Bangalore is a far cry from the American ‘gun shops’ that they showed on CNN. Just couldnt believe the sight of the ‘gun boutique’….swanky shop, real classy display….of guns of all kinds….real buzz around….vibrant shop, with customers trying out various firearms…like as if they were trying out sunglasses….JHC!

CNN had an interesting discussion on the ‘gun issue’. One of their resident experts on this whole ‘gun lobby’ thing, said that no politician would dare take any steps that will curb free access to firearms….the ‘gun lobby’ is just too influencial, he said….even though the gun owners may be in minority in terms of numbers (say 25%, he said), they do pack  a real punch, because they would en-masse vote against any politician who curbs easy access to firearms, just on that one issue alone…whereas the 75% majority, who may not like Guns to be sold as easily as chewing gum, may not vote ‘for’ the politician, based on that issue alone….

This is the story of democracy that is enacted in other parts of the world too….political parties going out of the way to please ‘vote gangs’ at the cost of doing what is right….

There used to be a class of politicians, once upon a time, who were referred to as ‘statesmen’…Wonder where they are…. 

 Once upon a time, ever so long ago, there was a politician whose name was Mohandas Gandhi…He worked for liberating India from British, and was imprisoned many times. In 1942 he called for “Quit India” movement against the British. His wife too joined the protest. He and his wife were jailed….His wife, died in prison….She was 75…This is a real story….

Once upon a time, there were a few politicians such as these….

Once upon a time, there was a concept called ‘Ahimsa’….


3 Responses to “Why on earth…”

  1. Ashok Says:

    Your observation:

    However, in the US we have:

    1. a declining sense of family and community
    2. easy access to material that glorifies violence (dehumanize killing) and porn (dehumanize women)
    3. incredibly easy access to lethal killing machines

    The interesting thing is that these 3 points are true for a country like Canada as well. They have very similar demographics, the same access to hollywood and video games and in fact, much greater access to firearms because of the popularity of hunting as a sport. And yet, as Michael Moore points out in his brilliant documentary “Bowling for Columbine”, Canada has one of the lowest gun-related mortality rates (around 70 gun related deaths a year compared to the astounding 11,000 gun deaths in the US). So the crux of his argument is that video games, porn and declining families are present in many developed countries – Canada, Germany, Sweden, just to name a few.

    The additional perspective he offers is that the US lives in a culture of fear. Americans are paranoid about security. He believes that the average american lives in a fear of terrorism, diseases, job-loss, credit card payments and the Patriot act. To add to that, the media showcase nothing more than the most gruesome murders and sensationalize the most bizzarre and unrealistic threats (killer bees, for e.g, in the 1990s). His take is that the major difference between Canada and the US is the nature of the media and its relationship with the populace. The american media is a fear mongering, corporate agenda driven, america centric brainwashing machine, while the Canadian media is more like doordarshan – benign, non-sensational and non-intrusive. He asks the question – should such a tense, on-the-edge, fear-fed populace have free access to guns? He says that given the fear-filled environment americans live in, they are more likely to pull triggers than Canadians or Germans.

  2. GJV Prasad Says:

    this is a crazy world. no longer can we depend on boundaries to keep influences out. there was a recent incident in canada where a sikh student went on a rampage. the american media is accessed, echoed and replicated around the world. guns are as easily available in india as in countries where they are sold across the counter. like in the sikh example, the virginia techie was a south korean — both are from societies with similar values, both now (asymetrically) going/gone the western way. the world is going to prove that we were and are always a species whose tendency is to keep life nasty, brutish, and short.

  3. Ashok Says:

    There are two things that came to mind when I read Prasad’s comment-

    I think there is something to be said about “western” violence and “eastern” violence. Historically, the west has traditionally used deadly and lethal force against people other than its kind, while the orient usually indulges in violence against its own kind. As Samuel Huntington points out, the west is not a dominant force today because of its overall moral,intellectual or ethical superiority but because its timely application of deadly force when it suited them.

    The Orient, on the other hand, while having a tendency to claim the moral high ground based on a complete absence of colonialist or imperialist tendencies (if you can temporarily forget Japan, i.e), ironically, has a history of infighting. The east has had its equal share of genocides. Communist China, Pol Pot, East Timor, the middle east, and of course, our very own caste system with its manifesto of violence spelled out clearly in a legal document authored by a gentleman named Manu.

    The second thought I had was that while we shake our heads in disapproval at the drastic increase in violence in our times, we must remember that we also live in a very connected world. 60 years ago, German villagers were perhaps not being altogether dishonest when they said that they did not know that there were concentration camps in their country. There were no cellphone cameras, no blogs, no independent media and no 24hr TV to beam the gore into people’s homes every day.

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