Sunday, March 26, 2017

To understand is not to condone.

If I understand why people need religion, do I support it? If I understand why religion makes people kill other human beings without having any remorse, do I support such killings? If I argue for some issues propagated by some particular political party, do I support that political party? During regular discussions, while discussing various social and political issues whenever I try to argue about less popular side or another side of the issue of discussion, people often misunderstand that I support the side about which I am arguing. The explanation, that I don't support that side, but I understand it and I want to bring those points in discussion doesn't register very well with most people. Many think that you cannot argue for any side unless you support it. Well, this may be true with many people, but not with me, during any discussion, if there is no representation for another side of the issue then there is no point in discussing that topic. There are very few topics about which there is universal condemnation but for all others, it is very important to know about all sides of any issue before drawing any conclusions. As Alan Dershowitz puts this very wonderfully in his book, Letters to a Young Lawyer, he writes, "To understand is not to condone, but to enlighten and perhaps to prevent the same mistake others have made." It is very important to understand that "to understand is not to condone." There is a huge difference between understand any issue, argue about it, or represent it in any debate, and wholeheartedly support it. 

For me monotonous discussions are boring, I am not interested in praising any political party or political leader unconditionally to the level of worshipping them and projecting as if things what I support are the ONLY right things. I also don't like venomous one-sided criticisms without much rational and logic to an extent to project things in extreme bad manner. I like to have a representation from another side, if there is no one, then I volunteer to represent that side; in a liberal group, I represent a conservative side, and in a conservative group, I try to bring up the liberal point of view. This makes it possible to see why people criticize some particular ideology and how rational their criticism is. Very often people consider me a supporter of that particular ideology or political group (the group they oppose), which is completely wrong. Yes, I do have certain political preferences, but I don't support any particular political party or ideology.

Many people don't understand the importance of having a representation from another side in any discussion. This is particularly challenging in political discussions, as a politically independent person, if you try to argue good and bad points of each political rivals, people often get confused. The normal expectation is that a person will choose a particular political party or a leader and defend or attack them vehemently. People try to support their chosen party, no matter what, and try to criticize their opponents, no matter what. But, if they don't see such a clear loyalty or animosity, they get confused. I am the victim of such confusion many times, I don't mind this, as many times this is an unavoidable situation. I feel that if people understand and learn to look at both sides and try to understand good and bad points of both the sides in any argument or debate, we will see much less political polarization and much more bipartisan collaboration.

There is no ideology or political party which is perfect with answers to all the problems. Very often best answers to questions are scattered through all over the political spectrum and we need to consider many issues before taking a final decision on any major policy issues. But very often the political supporters of these leaders and parties don't understand this and fall in a trap of political polarization to the advantage of these parties and leaders. Polarization always helps someone to win an election, but it seldomly helps the nation to move forward. Please understand the need to be fair to people who you criticize, it is very necessary to understand opponents point of view clearly to be able to criticize it properly, point by point. Otherwise, that criticism has no value other than political rhetoric or angry passionate rant, which can be used in politically charged speeches for the supporters of that own party, but useless for any conducive political policy discussion. Try to understand opponents view first, before commenting about it, maybe it will help to shape your own views in a much better way.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

Friday, March 10, 2017

Déjà vu- the politics of hatred.

Murder of an Indian immigrant in Kansas city was a very disturbing incident like any other murder or hate crime. This unfortunate incident got a lot of media coverage in India, obviously, this was due to a strong Indian connection to this event. Many relatives from India of people living in the USA got concerned because of this incident and I am sure it created a situation of panic in some people's family back in India. It is very sad to see anyone killed like this. Many feel that this murder was the result of the atmosphere of hatred or resentment against immigrants. There is a strong perception that the current administration is anti-immigrant, which I don't think is true. This anti-immigrant perception is created based on some strong statements made by Mr. Trump during his presidential election campaign. For me personally, these things are like a replay of similar migrant resentment phase which I witnessed in a state of Maharashtra in India. I even wrote a post about this politics of pitching one section of the population against another and expressed concerns about it before the presidential election. It worked in Maharashtra and there is no reason why it won't work the same way in the USA. The statements made during the election or the rhetoric used during campaign speeches help leaders and their parties to win elections. They substantiate and solidify their support by creating a very polarized political environment in an already polarized political atmosphere. But, after winning that election same leaders and parties find it difficult to control that anger and contain the hatred of the supporters who voted them just due to those feelings. After the election, somehow these people who voted for the winning party just for that particular rhetoric of hatred feel vindicated and get the notion that their feelings are now legitimized and they have right to execute their agenda.

These type of incidents are disturbing, but they don't define the character of this great nation. The USA is a very immigrant friendly country, immigrants feel safe and welcomed here and most of them try to contribute positively to the society and community where they live. The person who risked his life to save two immigrants from this murder was also an American, and I have no doubt that there are many in this country who will try their best to protect their fellow residents. Whether to attribute this incident to change of regime or not is a matter of debate I am not interested in it. Even in India, few people were killed for being a Muslim (Pune techie murder) or for allegedly eating beef (Akhlak murder). When my mom came to know about this incident, she freaked out and asked me why I want to stay in the USA? My simple answer was, I love this country, my kids are citizens of this country, and I don't think there is any better place than this country for people like me. Due to my political and social views, I can be a target in any country which doesn't encourage freedom of expression. I don't subscribe to ANY ideology, I am not a member of ANY political party and I don't follow ANY particular religion, and this makes me vulnerable to any attack from anyone who doesn't like my views or feels offended by them. In this country at least I have the freedom to express my views without being threatened just for expressing my opinion. The recent case of Gurmehar Kaur might explain what I mean.

As far as feelings hatred and resentment are concerned, I understand their origin and reasons behind them, and they are common no matter you live in the world. Resentment will get diluted once the economy gets going, but the politics of hatred is what worries me. If some group gets targetted just because who they are, then they don't stand any chance to defend themselves. No one should be forced to change their identity just to survive. If people have to change their name, religion, or skin color just to survive then I don't think that country is a free country anymore. I believe this murder was an isolated incident and people of the US still believe in their inclusive and tolerant tradition of welcoming immigrants. I also believe that immigrants are here to adopt American culture and contribute positively to it to make it more versatile and rich. 

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Five years..

Today is the fifth anniversary of my blog. Last five years of journey with this blog has been an amazing experience for me. I wish to thank all blog readers for their encouragement and appreciation, your feedback and shared experiences made this blog more special. Last year I wrote 40 posts, it was almost half compared to the previous year. It was not because I don't want to write, but I got busy with my studies and there was not much time to spend on writing the blog. This trend might continue for some time. It is not easy to manage a full-time work, part-time studies, and family responsibilities together. I am trying to strike that sweet balance and at the same time enjoying this phase a lot. It is stressful and demanding but at the same time very good learning experience. The main reason I can do this is because I always enjoyed learning about the new subjects and new areas. This adds new perspectives in my life and improves my knowledge. It is difficult to balance so many things at the same time but at the same time, it is very exciting and rewarding experience. I do plan to continue writing blog posts on relevant topics as the time permits.

A lot is happening around us socially and politically. We need to continuously register our opinions about things which we care about, the values we hold dear to our heart, and protest against any injustice. Many times it's not easy, it feels like our one voice won't make any difference, but remember that many revolutions were started with that one voice which dared to resist. Anyone of us can be that one voice which can initiate the change, we just need to have that courage and commitment. My blog is one small step in that direction, the aim is not just to share my views, but also start a healthy discussion, germinate a seed of independent thinking in the readers' mind and hope that it will create a novel stream of thoughts which might help to initiate the change for better tomorrow. This effort will definitely continue from my side. At this junction, when I pause and look back to my efforts to initiate that change, I feel quite good about it and want to thank readers of the blog once again for encouraging me to continue this amazing journey. I am deeply honored by your support and encouragement. I always try my best to answer your questions and will continue doing so. I am glad to read that many of you have got something useful from this blog and I hope you continue to get benefitted by reading this blog in future also.

This journey will continue from my side, I invite all of you also to share your opinion and voice your concerns on whatever platforms you can. Let's try to make this world a better place, full of more love, more compassion, more tolerance, and more people who value liberty and freedom of others.

Thank you very much for your cooperation and happy reading.