Friday, December 05, 2008

Fear & Debates

Last week's ordeal of Mumbai has made fear very real. Suddenly, dates like December 6 have come alive again. I am traveling tomorrow - and with all the threats about possible air strikes, I am quite apprehensive. How does one deal with such things - give in to the fear and cancel plans? Or travel when security is at its tightest and no one is caught napping in a surprise attack.

Few days ago, after the attacks, I , like everyone else (because after such an event, there is nothing else that you can talk about) got into a long debate with a friend over terrorism. Amongst other things, he said that terrorism is also a war, except that the players change the rules to suit their strengths. They cannot play by the rules because the stronger forces will always make rules that will make it difficult for the weaker to win. To further his argument, if anyone needs a way of revolting against the wrongs done to him, since he cannot win this war with direct combat, nor with peaceful demonstrations, terrorism is a natural reaction, something that is justified in his belief system.
The horrifying thing is, that unless directly affected by terrorism, a lot of the fair and 'just' educated people will find this argument logical and the cause of the terrorist explainable. But is logical necessarily correct? If social consciousness separates man from animal, then there should be an objective way of differentiating right and wrong, attacking defenseless human beings falling on the clear wrong end. If a section finds itself weak enough to engage in direct combat, it should either submit to subjugation or collect forces to become strong enough for direct combat.
In the last few terror strikes, no agenda has been communicated along with the attack. Even after the collision of WTC, no party or community came out and made demands or even clarified the reason for violence apart from the proclaimed hatred for the West. If the war is towards a specific purpose or to correct some injustice, at the least a declaration of the purpose should be made.
It can be argued that it is futile to make a peaceful protest: the Dalai Lama has done so for many years and got nowhere. But where has the jihadi protest gone? Have them making the world a scary place to live in fetched the fundamentalists anything? (Unless spreading fear was their goal and not a means, in which case theirs is not a war)
All such debates are futile - we can argue and counter-argue and run in loops, that does nothing to abate the fear. Only momentarily makes you think of something other than the risk. To copy from the Economist, it is like eating kulfi in front of the Taj.

No comments: