Winter has come. If you follow mainly the mainstream media (as most of us do, in this space of Urban Privilege), you will have your emotions manipulated and stomach churned on a regular basis. You can’t help but imagine that the worst is happening — and maybe it is. Winter has come, with the rise of strong-men leaders, populist and majoritarian governments world-wide. The cross that women bear ain’t going away anytime soon.
The big picture is bleak enough — it seems like a big nod for racism and misogyny, when we look at America today , a “whitelash” to quote CNN commentator Van Jones (who said the Trump win indicates, “A White-lash Against A Changing Country”).
A few months ago it was an equally surprising backlash, an insular move that we cutely acronym’ed “Brexit” and because so many of us based our opinions on what our FB friends and their friends said, perhaps our echo chambers didn’t tell us what was roiling folks outside of London (or South Delhi, where the twain shall meet). I’m not sure if there’s ever been a more common refrain/ fear factor on outsiders (and if you think illegal immigration is not an issue in this vast land of ours, then you’ve not been paying attention to Assam, the Other has never been more Other-ified and minority communities have never felt more alone.
But these are generalities — the same people who are armchair thinkers, who talk in big words about the glories of war (even in our neighbourhood) prefer to ignore the realities of war. You may be comfortable condemning Russian action in Syria for one, but ignoring the death toll from that civil war (estimated at more than 400,000 earlier this year). You may take sides from the comforts of distance, but forget the stream of humanity trying to flee a bombed-out land — aren’t we the same people whose eyes glaze over at the nth reminder from UNICEF that children are dying, fleeing, being bombed out of their childhoods straight into kingdom come?
— UNICEF Iraq يونيسف (@UNICEFiraq) October 30, 2016
That’s where we blink and prefer to forget — not just the horrors of war, but also that prejudice and bias, sexism and racism, molestation and abuse, these aren’t things that go away on there own.
You have to pick your battles, as Aaron Sorkin just wrote in only a slightly schmaltzy letter to his daughter.
— CNN (@CNN) November 10, 2016
However you articulate it, outrage isn’t enough…Especially when we allow that outrage to absolve us of the need to do something — you can’t change the world, right?
And yet imagine if we all did ONE thing to change something about it. If we spent as much time following what celebrities are doing – maybe we just spend that time activating on solutions.
Don’t care so much about humanitarian causes? How about the environment? Pollution in Delhi got you down? How about you retire one of your 3 cars, and carpool once in a while? Worried about gau-rakshaks? Say not on my watch and do something about it. The US elections leaving you in a funk? How about you look at where you can make a difference in mobilising voters or policy makers for change.
Sick of women being objectified, harassed, victimised? Help one of the many groups trying to work on women’s safety, realise it starts with behavioural attitude change. Oh and pledge not to give your hard-earned rupees (in non-500 and 1000-rupee denominations) to a Bollywood movie that’s just plain titillating. (Speaking of Bollywood: Just dissing Karan Johar for caving to a bullying move and threats of violence isn’t enough. Case in point: no one at a movie theatre stepped in to stop a husband-and-wife duo who decided to harass a poet and someone with spinal injuries for not standing up for a national anthem.) We’re happy to outrage and pillory people online, safe behind the screen, it seems — but in real life, would we get involved in a “messy” conversation about false patriotism? Hysterical nationalism? Bullying?
Pick one thing. Do one thing. It would sure mean a brighter 2017.
Amrita Tripathi is editor at-large, SheThePeople.TV, founder of The Health Collective and author of the novels Broken News and The Sibius Knot. Views expressed are personal. You can reach her @amritat