We are so used to watching the hero and villain duke it out on screen and cheering for CSK vs RCB on twitter that we have developed no other means of conflict resolution whatsoever. We are so used to being just the audience to performances that we view even war through the same goggles. The movie ends, the match gets over and the participants and the audience return to their normal lives. War is no movie and we are no mere audience in this scenario.
Even though we are watching it unfold on our screens from afar, the similarities end there ’cause the people putting their lives on the line aren’t doing it to draw a salary or put on a show but because they believe they have no other choice. Real people are really dying, families are getting uprooted. They hit us, we hit back and they take our pilot prisoner and it goes on and on; no curtain fall, no handshake line up and definitely no one goes home back to their normal lives. This is real unscripted life, it doesn’t move towards a perfect climatic end, it just moves. It is up to us to end it.
The official release was that the air-strike was preemptive and against the terror groups and not the Pakistan state. They claimed to have received intelligence that those behind the Pulwama attack were planning a second target and hence the IAF was summoned to take out a ‘large’ number of terrorists. Just ‘large’, not 300 terrorists, no mention of 1000 kilo bombs. Pakistan, on the other hand, claims to have no casualties. International news outlets make sure to state both sides and stay ambiguous. The timing of everything feels too much rousing and pizzazz to be entirely true. Perhaps news outlets are spurring rumours on to sensationalize and bank on the “patriotism” of its consumers, perhaps certain political parties want to take advantage of the crisis to come across as heroic. Wherever the truth may lie, the average Indian continues to religiously update WhatsApp statuses and post memes to register his misplaced pride and national spirit. The anger and/or pride stays in his head only in the fraction of a second it takes to press the ‘share’ button on the meme or change his DP to a black circle. He gets his instant gratification, he genuinely believes that he’s contributed something worthwhile and moves on to the next meme on his favourite movie star. It particularly pisses me off when these guys call themselves ‘social meme creators’ or pat themselves on the back for creating awareness or sometimes even solving social issues. You’re not that important.
Start a dialogue. Let the thought sit in your heads for a bit longer than the couple seconds it takes you to hit like and share. Maybe then the gravity of the situation will sink in. Maybe then the minds of people would change so that the next time there is talk of war, a grave stillness falls over the country rather than this cacophony of smartphone pings.
Eventually, any war will have to end with dialogue and treaties getting signed and what not. Why not skip right to that? Whose ego are we stroking sacrificing a bunch of soldiers in between? What exactly even counts as a “victory” in a war? When the other country is flattened to the ground? When they surrender? If that meant a win, how do our dead celebrate?
There will always be those who ask,“They hit us first. How can we not do anything?”, “What if they take our silence as a sign of weakness and launch a bigger attack next?”
Alright, so they killed 40 of us, we mourned. We killed “300” of them. Had maybe one media outlet reported the attack as or had the government in its official statement stated it as ‘necessary but unfortunate’ and stressed on the need for the two governments to meet and resolve this, it would’ve actually come close to worthy of being justified. Terrorism is a global problem and reaches much beyond India and Pakistan. Unfortunately, we will never see a global response to any act of terrorism as long as the hidden monopoly behind such attacks remains still at play. This current trend of ‘You hit me, I hit you back. Your move now.’ is essentially courting war. Holding a gun to your enemy’s head is surely bound to bring silence but that’s all it’ll be – intermittent periods of tense silence; the fight will never end. A lull between wars never equals peace.
Edit : A friend raised a very reasonable question on Instagram and I tried my best to respond to it. Since many others probably have the same on their minds too, it feels appropriate to append it here as well.