Hi, my name is Ashok, I am an urban middle class Indian and I have a problem for which I am truly sorry.
In the past few days, the nation has been shattered by repeated incidents of women and children being subjected to sexual assault. The crime is appalling and the patriarchal culture that enables it is reprehensible. But I feel compelled to say sorry for quite a few things I did wrong this week.
- Indulging in social media debates: As an urban middle class Indian, this is a serious problem. I am addicted to debating policy and current affairs on social media. I don’t know why I do it and I certainly find it self depreciating. But I can’t seem to help myself. Not unlike junkies, I find the solution to all of the world’s problems and my own in a certain dependency and with this, it is social media debates. I promise to work on my self depreciating behavior and refrain from such debates, even if I find myself experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
- My arrogance: Here I was citing statistics, studies and experiences with victims of sexual assault, to highlight how the death penalty is counter productive to the victim’s rights movement, going so far as to request the opponents to volunteer time with sexual assault survivors simply to understand the difficulties that will be created when death penalty becomes a reality. Why should a person with an opinion be obligated to verify their stance? The notion that an opinion has to be well reasoned is silly and for having believed that, I am arrogant. I am sorry.
- My lack of empathy: In all the efforts at focusing on sexual assault survivors and what they need, I completely lost sight of the anxiety and fear and pain that people reading about sexual assault survivors feel. Blame it on my job, but sometimes I lose the ability to connect and empathise with the chamomile tea sipping charcoal juice cleansing middle class Indian crowd who is the worst affected by this endemic culture of sexual assault. They are the true victims. Every person’s grievance is subjective and to each, the grievance is substantial. For thinking of the plight of the affected party more than the plight of the person affected by the affected party’s plight, I am sorry.
All the things that I have done wrong and I am sorry for- I must also reflect on its genesis. Its the privilege to blame. It taught me to be self centered, focus more on myself, my opinions, my work, my experience and my wisdom and taught me less to be focused on the objective reality out there. It taught me to focus on my own suffering than the suffering of people actually affected by the ills of the world.
So from now on, I pledge to understand issues better, to keep aside my own anger and suffering to focus on the bigger picture and to pay attention to the people who know better than me. I will try to make it less about me and more about others. My privilege is a liability and my confidence really ought to be a little more vulnerable. My name is Ashok, I am an urban middle class Indian and I am truly sorry.