times of discontent

The writing is on the wall. Wonder whether we will be wise enough to see it and act accordingly. The times of discontent have dawned. The world we carefully built is coming crashing; its foundations too fragile to withstand the load thrust on it.

I am not talking of the market crash. I refer to the senseless violence that seems to have taken over all walks of life: be it the road rage incidents that often turn fatal or the increase in petty crime; be it the senseless lynching of a young man in a train or the gunning down of a youth on a bus. I refer to the rape of a nun by a mob, the bombs planted by educated youth in crowded markets, the young woman murdered in her car while on her way home from work.

Subsequent to every such incident the now jaded drama unfolds: the screaming headlines, the even louder debates on hurriedly organised TV debates where often the same faces denounce the horror of the day with scant credibility, the blame game orchestrated destined to save vote banks, the gory pictures aired ad nauseum. I must admit the drama is now played to perfection and leaves us all indifferent if not enraged. And as such incidents are almost daily occurrences, the ones of the previous day are quickly forgotten. As a collective conscience, if there is one, we too are suitably horrified for the day.

Each and every time some perpetrator is identified, some promises made, some assurances given. But all these are soon forgotten as everyone has got the wanted pound of flesh: TRPs are safe, political rivals have secured their few minutes on national TV and played to the gallery, the right noise has been made, it is time to seek the next one. Some of us who are still not inured, seek some follow up the next day and find none. What we see instead is the latest cricket spat.

The rule of the day is to address the effect and never look for the cause. But how many of us have really bothered to wonder why such violence occurs? What is it that makes young people resort to such dastardly acts? Where do the predators seek their prey? What deep discontent has pervaded our social fabric and made all this horror possible. Where are the voices of reason, if there are any? What have we done to ourselves as therein lies the question.

The times of discontent have truly dawned and not only for what we call the have nots, but for each one of us. In today's world no one is satisfied or content. Even those who seem to have it all are forever seeking greener pastures. The society we have built for ourselves feeds on its ability to keep each and everyone in a state of constant hankering for more, it does not matter what the more is and why we seek it. If my neighbour buys a bigger car, I need one too. The car is no more a means of transport but a status symbol. This may seem trivial at first but if you stop to think it is not quite so. It is a reflection of who we have become. People are not judged by their qualities or abilities but by the outer veneer they display.

We are all on a roller coaster ride that had gone out of control. We need to stop it and get off. As long as the insatiable and irrational need for more is alive, acts violence will not only continue but proliferate. It is only when values are reinstated and given their rightful place that things may begin to change.

So help us God!