Sunday, 2 September 2012

Why are we promoting a culture of violence in our society?

Not a single day passes without T.V. news channels  reporting stories about violence, abductions, suicides, murders, assaults and rapes! Often these so called “Sensational” stories are repeated the whole day making the viewer sick with a surfeit of gory phantasmagorical  details and graphic descriptions telecast repeatedly on T.V.! Added to this is an alarming growth in the number of cases of road-rage, and violence related incidents in school. It appears as if we, as a society are living on a short fuse  waiting to explode at any moment!
Students in schools all over the country are displaying alarming levels of aggression, impulsiveness, and instability! Cases of road-rage have become so common that they have become passé! In a matter of five minutes, I witnessed two incidents of road rage. In one, a person driving an SUV literally brushed away a motorcycle being ridden by a young man, and when the young man protested, then the SUV driver challenged him using abusive language, the SUV driver was taking a right turn, and the motorcycle rider was going straight. Was it lack of patience, irritability at the slow moving traffic, or was it just that the SUV driver thought that he had the right of way, because he was driving a larger vehicle? In the other incident, a man in his sixties was driving his car on a narrow lane and he hit a motorcycle with a rider and a pillion rider on it. After hitting the motorcycle, the driver of the car continued driving so that the motorcycle fell down, luckily no one was hurt! Was it that the man driving the car had become confused because of the heavy traffic and had lost his judgement, or was it again a case of apathy, lack of respect for other road users?
Just the other day, having gone to collect my wife from her school in Delhi, I observed two school children beating each other while I was waiting. A bigger boy started kicking a smaller boy sitting on a rickshaw. I scolded them once or twice but it made no difference. Gradually I observed that  the smaller boy,   weaker than the bigger    boy was feeling ashamed and  humiliated.  When the rickshaw driver arrived and tried to intervene, the smaller boy vented his anger on the elderly rickshaw driver, kicking him on his shins and punching him on the torso. Observing the whole episode, it became clear that we need to be concerned about the emotional and mental impact of bullying on the victim. Often victims who are bullied because they are weak, tend to bottle up emotions and feelings of frustration and anger which  they vent unexpectedly. Their bottled up frustration and anger gives them a strength which shocks and surprises us beyond measure, often surpassing the strength of the stronger bully!
The Media, too is both a victim of violence and even a catalyst of violence. Violence sells like hot cakes on t.v., the more the gory scenes, the more viewers will be attracted to the t.v. Nothing sells more than sensational news, violence, graphic details, and simulations of crime scenes. Somehow, our appetite for violence is constantly whetted by what we see on t.v. and prime time serials dedicated to crime in the country. Needless to say, many people have stopped watching such serials, and news programmes for the express reason that they have had enough, enough of violence, and enough of gory pictures of dead bodies, video grabs of violent crowds beating innocent people, groups of people assaulting girls out on a date! In this case I refer to an incident which took place in Guwahati in Assam recently, and a similar case which took place in Mumbai in the recent past when a group of girls were assaulted by a mob of men, while their boy friends looked on helplessly because they were out-numbered!
It seems evident that today we live in a society that literally feeds on sensationalism,and violence. This could be the result of leading boring routine lives, lives that lack change, lives that are without adventure, lives that follow fixed patterns day after day! Such a dull routine leads to a rather complacent, apathetic, insensitive and unemotional life! It is because violence provides a break for this emotional deadness of life that it is increasingly observed in the society today. So, what then is the solution to the problem of increasing violence in the society today? There is no magical solution to this problem today. To understand the problem, we need to understand that human beings are not machines, they need frequent breaks, they need change, relaxation, they need to meditate, they need to go to Churches, Temples, Gurudwaras, and Temples. Parents need to spend more time with their children, they should learn to empathise with their children, well the hectic schedules of most parents, this is easier said than done. The ancient Guru-Shishya tradition has now passed into oblivion, and students as well as teachers have a very commercial approach towards education, therefore students don’t relate to their teachers as parents, and teachers don’t relate to their students as their own offspring. Perhaps it is because of the lack of sensitivity and sympathy that students are not able to share their problems  with their teachers, who I am sure could curb the effects of bullying before it resulted in grave harm. Excess work load, overcrowded class-rooms, frequent transfers, repetitive work, a boring syllabus and stagnation might lead to some teachers becoming disgruntled and full of apathy the inability to empathise with their students.
It is clear that the benefits of technological advancement have to be balanced with their disadvantages, especially by making us lead mechanical lives devoid of the ability to feel for each other! Along with the advancement in technology, has arisen the concept of  efficiency, performance,and output! These concepts cannot be effectively applied to human beings because these concepts work well with machines. It is when we become confused and apply these concepts on human beings that things start to go wrong. Policy makers and system analysts should take into consideration the Human Factor while setting up standards of performance for workers. The stress of meeting industry standards, cut throat competition, impossible targets, and unachievable goals can lead to a sense of frustration which in turn causes us to become violent. Violence is often the result of rebellion resulting from a sense of disillusionment with our lives, jobs and social relationships. Violence is about the human soul rising in rebellion against the mechanical lives we are leading is about saying, “ enough is enough, treat us as humans not machines!” The same applies to our students in schools. Education has become so commercial and so unemotional that there is very little of the empathy that existed between the Guru and his Shishya in the past!
Frayed tempers and lack of patience resulting from hectic work schedules, excessive demands of performance, peer pressure, demands from parents of students to score higher marks, all of these, have resulted in the promotion of violence in the society! We need to slow down in life, spend quality time with the family take frequent breaks from work, go out for adventure sports, take up hobbies, and observe “silent times” at work, which would help us introspect and meditate. Observing a moment of stillness, a moment of quietness and meditation would surely help overcome the feeling of being stressed. It when we adopt such stress-busters and policies that we will surely begin to gain control over the propensity of committing violence amongst our workers and students. The recent rampage of disgruntled workers at a famous vehicle factory in Manesar recently, the exodus of Assamese people back to their home-state, riots that took place in Gujarat in the past, all, all of them stand testimony to the fact that do we enjoy feeding on violence!
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