I protest

Nowadays, it’s ever so common to see crowds gathering in front of government houses, with upheld banners and raised voices, protesting. It doesn’t matter what for—policies, opinions, misspoken words, misspellings on social media—why, some people even oppose the existence of other people. Regardless of the “why” of these protests, almost every rally I’ve seen and heard of has a similar streak: violence. In its core, whenever anyone disagrees or rebels, they use harsh and violent behaviour to make themselves seen and heard.

Of course, in recent years, silent, un-violent, and fasting protests are becoming more desirable. But even today, all the marches and show of disagreement contain angry outbursts, name-calling, and plain spite. What’s sad, though, is that just as a self-fulfilling prophecy, these violent protests get more attention than the others. Even though our generation understands and even professes the effectiveness of the pen over the sword, the influence of weapons in conflicting opinions is far too significant to ignore.

That’s why it feels amazing to come across a different form of protest. Both in movies and real life, we’ve seen governments cutting off funds to public welfare systems like health care programmes, transport services, and university courses. Each time it happens, the government—factual or fictional—faces large mobs of angry citizens, swearing through megaphones and wasting fuel on stick figures and flags.

But then I saw this:

Canberra Museum and Gallery - 1

It’s a necklace. It’s also a sign of protest. When the state government of Canberra (Australian Capital Territory) cut off funds to the National Institute of Arts, teachers and Canberra sponsors together presented this necklace to the Chief Minister at the time, Kate Carnell, as a sign of their protest. What’s unique about it though is that each metal link in the necklace has a tag with the name of a sponsor. So each piece resembles a protestor, and together it makes a neckband for the chief minister of the then ACT.

No hate speech, no blood, an no fasting to death. What a daring rebellion! And what a beautiful necklace it is too—when you take away the historical value, that is one marvellous piece of accessory, won’t you say?

Canberra Museum and Gallery - 2

It made me stop and think about how much has changed in the way we fight for our convictions. Of course, we should stand up for what we believe in, but when our fight costs innocent people their peace, patience, or worse, life, then what good does our conviction do?

The necklace is on display at the Canberra Museum and Gallery. If you’re in the area, stop by and pay a visit—it sure is worth looking at.

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What if—?

Institutions and rules keep us in check, and tell us what we should and shouldn’t do. Without a religious belief watching over us we’d run amok with madness.

But what if we wake up one day having no memory of a god or religion? What if they never existed?

Well, we won’t have violence in the name of god, for sure. People will be fighting because they’re hungry.

We won’t have loud bells claiming to wake the lord, and waking up the whole street instead.

Men won’t need wear saffron dhotis for three months in the year. Imagine not living in a neighbourhood where the men are all clad in eye-numbing orange every day.

And women won’t have to cover their heads every time they go out. Hats will become a lifestyle choice. And I can wear a scarf to without being called out.

Oh, and we won’t have discrimination in the name of godmen. Sadthus and gurus will be out of business. Holiness would mean… nothing.

Footwear will become comfort, and people won’t torture themselves in the name of devotion.

Flowers will bloom and fade away, intact in plants. Slaughtered meat and alcohol won’t be part of a traditional offering—just Thanksgiving dinners. Or brunch.

Piercings will be a hippie thing—not a god thing.

What if we told the whole world that god and religion don’t exist?

Well, people just might go crazy.

Beware

Her first day of school—

of bearing books, pencils, hopes

and premonition

Old news

It’s 6:30 am on the 15th of February. And I’m angry.

It’s is not how I’d hoped to start my day. My first realisation for the day was how bloody America has become. A teenager has gunned down high school students—again.

I don’t live in the US. I’m no longer a high schooler, and I’m no parent. I know no one in Florida or anywhere near its vicinity.

But I’m angry nevertheless. It pains me—who lives 11.30 hours ahead of PST—that someone somewhere has unrestricted access to such vile weaponry. I’m silly that way. Because I care about what’s becoming of this place that I no longer want to call home.

Just last week I was proud—thrilled that a fellow human propelled a rocket to space. A single man’s determination and persistence has given us all a lifetime worth of achievement. Last week as Falcon Heavy made a safe landing, we celebrated human-ness  and our intense ability to reach beyond our confines. Our race had pursued the nigh-impossible and proven nothing’s impossible. For one week, I was proud of humankind.

This week, I’m repulsed by it.

Sure, life’s full of good and bad incidents. And philosophers would argue we wouldn’t appreciate the good unless we experience the bad. Which is all sage advice, except the bad is no longer bad when it extinguishes the innocent and exalts the unworthy.

Elon Musk had to fail hundreds of times before he could succeed. That’s the bad pill we need to swallow so we can appreciate the good one when it comes.

A teenage murderer isn’t the kind of bad that leads to realising goodness. Nothing good ever comes from entrusting a loaded weapon to someone unauthorised to wield it. That causes more than an unfortunate turn of events—that’s a consequence of utter insensibility.

Scrolling through social media, I saw videos and text messages from students inside the school during the shooting. They’re communicating with family and friends outside and most of them seem calm and collected.

Calmness in the face of adversity is healthy, some might say. I’d say no, though.

Although panic gets us nowhere, calm indicates familiarity. Despite grieving, people have grown accustomed to such incidents. It’s the first time for some folk, but nothing unheard of. Violence and guns amiss are so common that no one’s surprised that it happened again.

Everyone’s shocked because it happened, of course, but no one’s surprised that it happened. And there lies the fundamental fault in our stars.