Thursday, July 12, 2012

Story: The Peacemonger's advice

A short story (ie, short compared to novels!)

Once upon a time, a person once was witness to a crime. Let it be any crime... theft, murder, rape, beating, harassment, fraud, cheating, usurping... whatever. The main thing was, there was an aggressor who committed the crime within full control of his actions and fully knowing what he was doing, and the crime was planned in advance. And there was a victim and she was put through severe trouble and faced a bleak future as a direct result of this crime.

The aggressor, upon being confronted over the incident by the witness, showed neither any viable defense for his actions, nor any hint of remorse, nor any willingness to reconsider his actions. Instead, the aggressor then started to make moves to cover up the crime, including making attempts to land the witness, who'd had nothing to do with the whole thing except to witness it, into trouble. It did not help that the aggressor happened to be the witness's and the victim's boss and used his position to have things his way.

So the witness naturally had his task cut out. The only way to undo that trouble caused to the victim was by exposing the crime and the aggressor's actions to all. This was unfortunate, but the aggressor had put himself clearly in a position that would have to be overturned if there was to be any hope for the victim.

But then the witness was advised by a beloved friend.

This friend told our witness that every time he points a finger at someone, there are 3 fingers pointing back at him.
By some twist of logic, that was supposed to mean that if the witness points out the criminal, the witness himself magically becomes 3 times more guilty that the actual criminal. ( I know, LOL )

He said that this wasn't the witness's fight, so by even trying to help someone he must be committing some grave crime. (Must be!)

The friend told him that by exposing the crime, the aggressor isn't going to change his ways so what is the point, it will only increase the net negativity and spoil relations for a long time to come.

The friend extolled the noblest and most peaceful thinkers of our times, quoted them to justify not taking any action. (whilst conveniently ignoring all their activist sides)

The witness found it hard to put through to his friend that his objective did not even concern the aggressor. The victim's distress and the need for putting an end to that misery was far more important. Everything else... including the aggressor's feelings or his perspective or his relations with anyone -- were irrelevant. The act was done, the evidence was there, plenty of investigation had been done already. There was no room left for speculation of whether the crime had been committed or not - it had.

When he told this to the friend, the friend immediately said that he "does not know" whether the crime actually took place or not (despite all the evidence staring him in the face). And so the friend could not take any position on whether or not the aggressor was guilty, Apparently since his body wasn't glued to the aggressor's during each and every second of the crime and since he wasn't in the room (aka, he wasn't a DIRECT eyewitness), he could not even consider the faintest possibility that the aggressor may be in the wrong. He grandiosely gestured that the aggressor be given "the benefit of the doubt".

AT THE SAME TIME, this friend never bothered to apply this benefit-of-the-doubt theory to the one suffering as a result of all of this, the victim. As far as this friend's perspective went, the victim might as well have never even existed on this planet. Taking the same yardstick of neutrality that he had used for the aggressor, he could have at least pitched in some of his energy to help remove the suffering of the victim, to undo the adverse action that had been done upon her. The same way this friend refused to accept the aggressor as guilty, he indirectly refused the accept that the victim was innocent and something unjust had been done to her. Instead of practising benefit of doubt, he practised curse-of-doubt upon her. Just because HE was not in the same place or glued to the victim's body when the act took place. There were times when he even mentioned that he "did not know if that was true and so cannot comment on this", even when the witness as talking in the victim's defense -- hence directly casting aspersions on the characters of both the victim, and his friend the witness!

In addition to this, the friend exhibited a total lack of big picure or long term thinking. If it indeed turned out that the aggressor did do wrong, was there any merit in giving him a free hand, in the name of non-violence, non-intervention etc etc? Wouldn't that make him more aggressive and hurt others too? Wouldn't inaction at this point increase the net suffering and negativity for everyone in the long run?

The witness saw through this double standard. When he tried to persuade his friend to abandon the double standards and at least give the facts on the ground, the physical evidence some credit, the friend told him he was being too aggressive / biased, taking sides, that he was getting too negative, too aggressive, going into a downward spiral, etc etc etc.

And all this time what our friend the adviser was ACTUALLY doing, in the name of the noblest ideals around, was finding an excuse to not act, to not stand up against an obvious wrong, to not do the right thing. It was also politically convenient, seeing that the aggressor happened to be the authority. He also wanted to prevent others as well (particularly the witness) from doing it, for if that happened, wouldn't he have been exposed for what HE truly was - a coward, a charlatan? In the process, without fully comprehending it, he ended up giving blind, unconditional support to the aggressor and became a party to the crime wreaked upon the victim.

Luckily, the witness had other more sensible friends and a stronger internal compass. And he learned, the hard way, that this fence-sitting friend of his couldn't be trusted or consulted henceforth. It wasn't worth debating the facts with someone who respects people's perspectives and assumptions more than facts, someone who differentiates credibility solely based on hierarchy ("the aggressor is the boss so he must be right, while the victim was just an employee so she could be wrong"), someone for whom the words "Satyamev Jayate" do not have any real meaning. Such people can be a serious waste of time and mental energy.

He soldiered on, stuck to the facts on the ground and ignored the speculations, dug deeper, found the evidence required, exposed the aggressor's actions, got the whole community to acknowledge the facts and admit that a wrong had been committed, and got the harm to the victim undone. Sure, he committed a few minor faux pas, pissed some (irrelevant and highly over-rated) people off, and had to face some consequences of his own due to a large number of the crowd being of this fence-sitting mindset. But all that was trivial compared to the several more real friends and tons of goodwill and credo from across the board he earned on the way, and the lessons in leadership and systems of operating he learned at a much higher level of cognition than any passive spectator could have.

The friend had assumed that his "neutral" position gave him immunity from all responsibility or consequences relating to the matter. Had his "neutral" advice been heeded, the victim would never have seen the light of justice. So he ultimately ended up losing his own credibility, created a totally negative image for himself in the eyes of the victim and her loved ones especially, and lost his friendship with the witness forever.

Something we must keep in mind : Peace is not the absence of conflict. It is the presence of justice.

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