Forgetting the Minority in Us

We are living in desultory times. The digital revolution has accelerated time and the internet has bridged space. While the world is coming together as a global village we are moving away. Divergent political as well as religious beliefs are rapidly driving us apart. We seem to be ironically coming together on disagreements and conflicts that seem to express our desire to separate and divide each other. Thus, the so-called victors and victims are entangled together in an unhappy tangle.

Victors belong to the majority and the victims are the minoritized ones. The victors forget and indeed violet the simple truth that each person receives his or her rights as an individual which is to say as ‘ a minority of one’. It is only by accepting the singularity and minority of the individual person that we can define the collective selfhood of — We the people. In recent days by marginalizing minorities, we seem to have forgotten that each of us an individual minority. This forgetting our minor location as a citizen has its costs. It could lead to the banality of evil.

We are then desensitized about the plight of the weak and the disadvantaged. Hannah Arendt teaches us that the banality of evil is a non-wicked everybody who has no special motive and for this very reason is capable of infinite evil. The danger of slipping into barbarism is nearing because we have thoughtlessly come to accept our majoritarian position. Several from the majority, therefore, often suffer like Kafkaesque characters who did not even know why he was arrested. The inability to speak for the suffering other comes from the inability to think, and think from the standpoint of the suffering other. Our consciousness is constricted. We have become solipsists who are drawn into a collective figure and representation of a meta man, the Hindu Rashtra.

Our politicians of Charisma have become politicians of miasma. In the name of a golden past, we are constructing nothing less than a barbarian present. We seem to have assumed the mantle of barbarianism to give a future to a past that is deemed glorious and golden. Just like Trump declared; ‘ let us make America great again’, we seem to be saying without articulating it openly, ‘Let us make India Hindu again’. We will be ashamed of saying it because India is a secular republic. There is of course no dearth of people who shamelessly declare war on the minorities.

We seem to have ushered in majoritarian triumphant temporality in the present that is ready to ‘ go full animal’ in its quest for the establishment of a future of a glorified past. The devil is in the adverb again that says ‘Let us make India Hindu again’. It gives us a sense of the loss. The past then is being viewed as lost and one is therefore compelled to work to recover it in the living present and the coming future. This recovery is to be done through ‘rough justice’ that is contrary to the spirit of the law. Maybe this is why the law is often being broken by some right-wing groups. Cultural action groups are acting like militants with impunity. Thus, in our quest for a meta man, the majoritarian self, we are becoming lawless and barbaric. Using the shield of nationalism, we are forcing thousands of people into conditions which despite all appearances are conditions of servitude. This is why what was the discrimination of casteism has metamorphized and minorities are the new pariah. Even if we resolve that we shall not return to barbarism ever again. The adverb again can only open the slippery road of barbarism again…and again… and again. We may get out of this trap only when we understand deep down each of us is a minority.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao