ASSAM: I asked a few people what they thought about the recent shooting in Las Vegas and below are some of the responses that I got,

“It’s nothing new” or “these things happen”
“It doesn’t concern us in any way”
“Serves them right”
“We have our own problems to deal with”
“We can’t keep crying over every tragedy that comes our way”
“Nothing is going to come of you writing about it”
“Tragic but can’t help things like this”

What hit me wasn’t the responses themselves, it was the fact that I had heard them before- every single time a tragedy either small or of this large a scale occurred. I am certain that you too have heard these very retorts and may have even used them yourself. I am, however, not here to antagonize you or call you out for believing in what I have listed above. How else would we, as feeling sentient human beings, cope with a misfortune of this magnitude than to detach ourselves from it completely.

The biggest problem with responses such as these which highlight the isolation that the modern man and woman have grown so comfortable with is the normalization of violence such as the one we witnessed just a few days ago. We are so eager to distance ourselves from a tragedy that should ideally shock us into action that all it becomes is another milestone, another headline in history. People have been depersonalized to the level of a statistic on a graph and we forget, or more accurately, we willingly ignore that a human being lost their life. Not because they were old or had an untreatable disease or even due to an unavoidable accident, but because they were enjoying concerts, or lived in a country whose resources were valued above their lives, or, to bring it closer to home, ate a kind of meat that wasn’t approved by ‘the ones in charge’.

When people say that we should focus on violence and horror closer to home, it makes perfect sense. Before even thinking about going out and changing the world one must recognize the problems closer to us and work towards solving them. The problem with this narrative however is that it has two extremes. On one hand nobody wants to talk about the problems in our country. They ignore or even out rightly deny the existence of it. On the other hand, there are those that talk endlessly about it but that’s where it ends. Nothing ever comes of it, either out of fear or the lack of personal interest resulting in the absence of motivation to do anything to alter status quo. This constant shifting between extremes is what haunts India today. We want to turn a blind eye to violence that surrounds us and live in a niche away from the blood and screams.

Because it doesn’t concern us. The violence in Kashmir and Chhattisgarh don’t concern us just like the violence in Spain, Las Vegas and Syria don’t. “Ye sab toh hota hi rehta hai, hume kya lena dena?” has become the overarching rhetoric of the nation. The question, therefore, that I bring forward today is this: if ‘it doesn’t concern us’ until it happens to us, then who prevents it? The normalization of tragedy has made us immune to humanity that is intrinsic and innate in all human beings. We have become so consumed in our imaginary communities that we forget that we are part of something larger and much more important i.e., the human race.

There isn’t a lot one alone can do about gun violence taking over the United States of America, or children waking up to bombs in Syria or even families being torn apart in Kashmir. However, ignoring it because of this very reason is not the answer. Violence demands attention and just because we are privileged enough to sit unharmed in our isolated worlds and ignore it does not mean that it goes away. Coming together and voicing discontent against any crime against humanity is the answer, isolation is not.

We cannot afford to continue living in fabricated detached worlds where everything is perfect. There are people dying because we are too afraid to acknowledge that they are. Therefore, I urge all those who wish to condemn the violence in Vegas, or any form of violence in any part of the world, to do so without feeling the guilt of hypocrisy loom above them, because humanity needs to begin somewhere. Do not let your voice drown out in an ocean of hate, rather see it through to action. Take your stand and make it firm because someone else will only if you do it first. Don’t just allow your efforts to be restricted to a #prayfortheworld, do as much and say as much as you possibly can and then some more. Because someone out there, in some corner of the world, is praying that you do.