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Friday, December 26, 2008

Virtue or lack of opportunity?

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In moments of reflection, I feel sorry for unfortunate people around me. I feel sorry that world is this way. I feel sorry that things don’t improve. I feel sorry that there is not much that can be done by me individually. I feel sorry that poor and powerless are always at receiving end of cruelty inflicted by nature and powerful. I feel sorry that they didn’t do anything to deserve this. I feel sorry that their goodness is exploited. But then…

Mankind is composed of many classes of people. We can define a class based on national border, religious faith, personal wealth, physical health, colour of skin, class of birth, or in many other different ways. Conflict between classes has come to being inevitable. It need not be so, but that utopia is not within sight in next few generations of humanity. If conflict is inevitable, and one class is going to be suppress another class, then would you prefer be suppressed or suppressor? As I said earlier, middle option is not possible. You can either suffer or make other suffer. Looking from this vantage point, injustice to powerless sections of society doesn’t seem cruel but inevitable, unless one prefers to be at receiving end of that injustice.

Main premise of this argument is that middle ground of peaceful coexistence is not possible. This is purely observational hypothesis of mine. We see around us that those whose rights are violated also violate someone else’s rights. If tables are turned, they are not better because they know pain of injustice. Untouchables of Hindu community practice severe untouchability within their own sub-castes. Minority Muslim community seeks special favours until they are majority when they start discriminating against erstwhile majority. Blacks in United States discriminate against homosexuals even when they themselves got out of discrimination mere decades ago. Mayawati’s political agenda is not equal treatment of all castes but revenge against upper caste. More rights to women have meant reverse harassment in form of more false rape and dowry cases. Slum dwellers sell their freely government given flats so that they don’t have to pay for water and electricity. Servants in households murder their generous masters and run away with money. Beggars on street throw back those one-rupee coins you handed them. Farmer who couldn’t fill his stomach till yesterday refuses to sell his land even at prohibitive prices when he sees opportunity to exploit. Policeman who complains about exorbitant bribes by schools for his ward’s admission doesn’t even register a FIR without chai-paani. Maid in my house, even though she works at measly 5/- per hour, doesn’t improve her quality of work even when her salary is doubled.

When in moments of reflection I feel sorry for these people, I also remember that that these victims are not just virtuous people who are exploited by society and powerful. They are just unfortunate that they are not in position to exploit others. They lack opportunity but not intention. Given chance, they will do unto others what is done to them. If they can only be suppresser or suppressed, they why should I feel sorry for at them at all?