Facing our Political Present III

The present is not politically dead. It is politically vibrant. We always experience a disrupted present. The present is haunted by our past traumas and future dreams. Often the present is afflicted by a politics that attempts to mobilise memory to invent victimhood and place blame on innocent generations that has little or nothing to do with that past. Often the conflict that is being raised to mobilise as well as police memory is separated by distance in time, space, evolving culture, social hierarchies and social change. These quests for recovery of the lost, hidden or silent past sometimes image and mimic imperial masters that they criticize and wish to overcome. Somehow the empire writes back and creates new victims and manifests new oppressors. We can trace this haunting condition lurking into our present society in Goa. Several Videos have been passed on the tragic past of colonization particularly the acts of inquisition in Goa by one Shafali Vaidya. When such a dark past is racked up one encounter a haunting present.

Goa’s past has several hauontologies and we seem to depict an unease to embrace such tragic shades of our past. Being haunted by the dark past like unfortunate excesses of the inquisition, one is tempted to take up an apologetic stance. An apologetic defence in this case is quite easy and becomes a whataboutery which can be employed to remind our Hindu brethren of today the way they subdue Buddhism in the past. But this zero sum argumentation does not befit anyone. But what is more important is to examine how these discourse emerging from the traumas and pain of the past are not aligned to present conditions which are not frozen into the past but have evolved and changed with time. This examination does not condone the past but may assist us to locate tangible forms of neo-colonization that afflicts our society today. Thus, the voice that attempts to portray the follies and crimes of the Inquisition in Goa is speaking from a different location and appears to be trapped into mode that seeks healing by repeating the very same follies and crimes on new victims that do not directly have anything to do with the tragic acts of the past. We cannot heal the past by reversing our roles. These negotiations with our disrupted past are not free from ideology and seem to be heading to further disrupt our society.

How are we to heal our society from its colonial hangovers? The colonizer has long left us but we can trace his mimic men as well as lingering pain of traumas inflicted on our society. Shall we allow our ideologies to wound our already wounded society? Being haunted by the violence of the past, we cannot spill violence into our present. We need a healing of memories and this is only possible through an ethical decision that both remembers as well as forgets. We as Goans will have to decide what kind of memories we will like to take forward. This decision is to be made based on the ethic of, compassion and willingness to forgive the wounded past. Perhaps, we might need the public reconciliation ceremonies that we saw in South Africa to be enacted in Goa. Goans and Goan-ness have spiritual, psychological, social and political resources to address our hauntologies and produce a harmonious present and shape a peaceful future. We cannot reconcile the past disruptions through politics that invent victimhood and culpability.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao