A text message I received just now illustrates the dilemma of the common man. “Repeat of 2002. 2 colonies in
I hate what happened in Ahmedabad then. I’m worried about what’s happening in
I called my friend and mentor in
If he says the situation is under wraps, I believe him. If he asked me to jump down the lift-shaft, I’d do it without … well, being the way I am, I’d probably ask him a couple of questions first, but I’d do it. This man is bedrock. Bottom line – there is no repeat of the Best Bakery scenario in
They’re saying it on television all the time. Don’t spread rumours. Do. NOT. Spread. Rumours.
Rumours are poison. This message, for example. I’m a naturally cynical old cuss, so I cross-checked. What if you’re about 22 and you already have a grouse? What if day in and day out for those 22 years, you’ve been systematically poisoned against others, against anybody who doesn’t pray where you pray, eat what you eat, wear the same clothes as you? Wouldn’t it be that much easier to call you out of your house and put a can of kerosene in your hands? Voila,
I didn’t forward the message. After I’d checked, I called the friend who’d sent it to me. Now she’s texting everybody to whom she’d sent the earlier message, to tell them it was a hoax (she’d got as far as ‘B’ in her phone-book). Let’s hope they haven’t already forwarded it to
To come back to the average man and his dilemma. If he gets a message like that, he can turn on the radio and check for news, but at the back of his mind there’s a voice saying “Maybe it’s not even on the news yet, there may be people burning to death, SHIT, what do I do?! Whom do I know in
So should he ignore it? Should he wait till the afternoon news shows the body-bags being carried out, then curse because “dammit, I knew about this four hours ago, what was the administration doing?!?!” Or should he just call as many people as he can in the hope that somebody will do something about it? Tough call. My friend messaged me. But she also messaged others. Perhaps she should have called me first.
Perhaps I’ve spent too much time within the system. Perhaps it has eroded my individualism. Perhaps that’s why I believe you should leave these things to the people whose job it is to stop the killing. Perhaps. (There’s cynicism involved too; after all the present political equation is very different from the time Ahmedabad happened.)
Or perhaps I’ve seen enough good men within the system who honestly try their best to stay human, to help, to follow their conscience, to preserve their backbones. Either way, there’s no percentage in spreading bad news. Especially without verifying it.
Next step in the hypothesis – if you verify the bad news and it’s true, and you’re all the way across the country, should you spread the news? Would that help? How do you calculate the benefit-cost ratio? Would the news cause some more deaths elsewhere? Or would it mobilise enough decent people to stop the killing? Tough call?
Well, there’s always the belief that the truth shall set you free. But as I grow older, I wonder ….