The Problem with Partition

In one of my classes we’re studying the Partition of India and its aftereffects. It seems like a horrible fairytale. Watching the videos, hearing the stories, reading the articles and looking at the statistics–it’s surreal. My class and I couldn’t understand it. It wasn’t logical. Why did so many people want to kill each other?

There are many facets that make up the mosaic of India. Before Partition, Hindus lived next to Muslims, with Jews, Christians and Buddhists scattered about. Working together, living their own lives, they coincided. They worked towards the same goals, and yet worshiped different religions.

The British had control, and exploited most of India, yet for the most part, they coincided. When the time of Gandhi came, the Hindus and Muslims were able to agree on one thing, the British needed to “Quit India.”

What they couldn’t agree on was how their country should be run once the British left.

Some wanted to separate, tired of being a minority. Some were idealistic, and wanted everyone to unite under one Congress, allowing democracy to run freely. Some wanted guaranteed protection against the majority: a special electorate which would guarantee them a say in the government. Some wanted to completely change the system of governance. None were willing to negotiate. They saw their chance to seize control over their lives, and weren’t comfortable trusting their neighbor to look out for them.

The aftermath of Partition was more than horrifying. It was hellish. Neighbor turned on neighbor as thousands of people migrated across the newly formed border. The tension broke, and incredible numbers were killed.

I intellectually understand why this happened: people were scared and confused. They were tired. They suffered great hardships when they had to pack up their homes and move, hoping for their dream life. They were focused on their own troubles, and were unable to recognize that everyone was struggling to regain their balance. The one consistent tie between Hindus and Muslims, their need to coexist (their shared need to contribute to their economy and eventually free themselves from their oppressors) had been cut.

I don’t understand it emotionally. When I look at this, I don’t see two completely alien species migrating in close quarters. There was no dispute. People didn’t agree on how their government should operate, so they were leaving to go to a place they’d be happier. This reason doesn’t seem like enough of a reason to start fighting. I guess you could argue that they were scared, but why would they be scared of each other? They’d lived together for so long. What kept them from learning to trust one another? What caused this hatred?

I don’t understand hating someone enough to want to kill them.

I wonder what the reason was behind the first killing. What made that person snap and turn on someone in a fellow position. Was it grief? Was it revenge?

People say that revenge is a main motivator behind the killings. “An eye for an eye”–Hammurabi’s code. There’s a reason that isn’t used anymore. Gandhi said it perfectly “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.” How does killing someone who killed someone you loved right the wrong that was originally done? It doesn’t bring them back. It only creates more pain and terror. When does it stop? Would you still say revenge was a good enough reason to kill someone if it was only the two of you left on the planet?

Maybe I don’t understand because I wasn’t born in the situation. I was born in a country where we all thought enough alike that minor differences, such as American party lines or different sects of a religion doesn’t justify hatred. I was blessed enough to be born in a country where I could speak my mind, and learn to listen to others when they speak theirs. I learned to “agree to disagree” from a very early age.

Yet, there are some disagreements that can’t be left alone. Hitler, for instance. He had to be stopped.  I firmly believe that what Hitler did was evil. He may have been disturbed, he might have truly believed what he was doing would benefit the world, and yet, he needed to be stop. Protagorean relativity is not valid, not when it comes to ethics.

I’m a firm believer that there are some things that are truly evil, no matter what you believe in. Killing in cold blood is usually the best example. Only, that example gets more and more difficult the more you analyze it. I have certain lines that can’t be crossed. Certain things I would not allow. For example, if I met someone who sacrificed animals for their religion, I’d do everything I could (within reason) to stop that. I’d call the police, I’d talk to them about it, and I’d physically stop them from doing that. I wouldn’t kill them, though. If someone believed they had to sacrifice a child in order to practice their religion, the same thing applies. I wouldn’t just kill them, however. Not unless my life was seriously in danger.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I understand fundamental ethical differences. However, I don’t understand killing people over them unless there’s no other option. I haven’t been confronted with people whose religions or ethical systems differ that extremely from mine often. I have had conversations with Muslims and with Hindus, as well as different sects of Christians and Jews. We don’t disagree about any of my basic ethical beliefs (at least those I talked to did not seem to).

I’ll admit that I haven’t read the different religious texts for both Hinduism and Islam. I don’t pretend to be well versed in any religion. I have a basic working understanding (read here: public high school education) of them, however. I don’t understand, from my understanding, why people feel the need to kill over it. Especially if you’ve lived by people who follow the other faith for so long. Especially when you are both going through a similar crisis.

The articles I have read and my discussions with my professor have lead me to believe that the majority of the people in India and Pakistan agree with me. Why fight? However, very powerful “fundamentalist” groups see things differently. They are apparently so starved for power that they are willing to provoke nuclear warfare (killing millions and millions of people, both in Pakistan and India) for the chance to seize control.

My first thought is that everyone in that group suffers from a mental illness. What cause is worth killing billions of people, especially those you theoretically want to control? How is this at all a rational train of thought? How is this at all ethical?

All of those people can’t be DSM certified bat-shit crazy, though. It sounds like it, but it is highly improbable that that is the case.

What is it, then? What is the point of all of this bloodshed? What is the point of the terror? The destruction? The hatred and the blind massacres?

Why?

No one in my class could understand it either.

If we can’t understand it, how can we even fight it?

If this is some sort of pandemic of a mental illness, then how can we cure it? How can someone from the outside, anyone, fix this problem? You can’t justify killing them all. You can’t pick them out from the innocents, most of the time. You can’t force them to get along. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. You can try to unite them under a common goal again: economics. But that doesn’t address the root of the issue.

How do you even attempt to reason with an entire group of people when they won’t talk. I doubt any of the leaders from any of the groups fighting would be willing to sit down and discuss this over a cup of tea or coffee. What if there is no reasoning with them? What if they are so different from us that they literally think differently than we do about the value of life and basic ethical principles?

What can we do to help these people?

I honestly don’t know. I don’t know what I, or anyone, could possibly do but slap an economic bandage on the problem and hope it heals over. The problem is, that’s been tried before, and the wound just got infected.

I don’t know what to do.

Please Remove Your Badonkadonk From My Groove Thing

I absolutely adore this post.

Please Remove Your Badonkadonk From My Groove Thing.

Bullies

bullying

This may seem like a silly topic. Kids tease each other. Parents are too worried about this. Kids just need to toughen up and learn to deal with it, right?

Well, in some ways, that is true. We need to learn that the world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and that other people may disagree with our opinions and think we look or act strangely.  However, there is a fine line between teasing and bullying.

What makes a bully?  According to Merriam-Webster, a bully is “a blustering browbeating person; especially : one habitually cruel to others who are weaker.”

I think the second part of that definition is the one that’s most important.  Let’s break it down.  The first important word in there is “habitually.” One shove does not a bully make. This is a constant behavior, one that the victim has to deal with daily.  The next word is “cruel.” At first, this may lead you to think that these bullying actions are intentional.  Usually, they are.  In after school specials they certainly are. However, you don’t have to mean to be cruel to actually do something cruel. For example, when I was younger, maybe 3 or 4, I was very curious. I loved nature. So, my mom would let me “help” her garden.  She had a beautiful garden in California, with tons of lady bugs and worms everywhere. I remember one time getting really interested in the earth worms, and playing with them. Well, I decided it would be fun to rip them in half and see if they’d grow back, because my dad had told me lizards could grow their tails back if they were ripped off. So, I watched to see which way they were moving, then tore off the lagging half and waited for them to grow back.  I did this to about 10 worms before I realized they weren’t suddenly duplicating, but were dying. This seems like a cruel act, doesn’t it? I just ripped the worms in half and left them to die slowly (now that I think about it in more detail, that was really awful. I practically severed their CNS and watched them spasm until they died).  BUT I didn’t mean to, did I? Of course not. I had no idea I was hurting them, and bawled my eyes out when my sister told me I killed them. That doesn’t change the fact that I caused the worms extreme pain and eventually killed them.  It was still cruel, despite my intent.

What’s my point, you ask? By this definition of bullying, you can bully someone without necessarily  meaning to.  Say you have a friend that got really nervous whenever you mentioned a rumor of her dating someone else.  You could see it caused her some distress, but you thought it was just mild embarassment, so you brought it up often when you saw her. That means, every time you saw her, you caused her distress.  Little did you know, you were cuasing her pain (psychological pain, of course).  You habitually caused someone pain (AKA: you committed a cruel act).  Sound familiar?

Let’s continue looking at this definition. The next important part of this definition is that it is done to others. You can’t bully yourself. That’s getting into a completely different issue. Finally, a bully is someone who torments someone weaker than themselves.  They pick on “the little guy.” That one person or those people who have no one else to defend them.  They might not have any friends, they might be outcasts, they might be small and weak, or maybe incapacitated in some way. Somehow, they are an easy target. That’s who a bully goes after, which is what makes this so deplorable.

It’s interesting to think about. I never thought I was bullied too horribly in my formative years. I was teased by the guys, and I did my fair share of crying, but I was never afraid to go to school. I never felt like there was no one I could turn to. I had my group of friends (though granted, when I was in elementary school, this group was small. However, the friends I had were true  friends), and I knew I could talk to someone in a position of authority about any problem if it was serious. I had a good relationship with the school. Also, if worse came to worse, I knew I could tell my family about it, and they’d help me.  Maybe that’s why I don’t feel I was traumatized when I was little by the teasing that did happen. I had a support group. I had people I could rely on. Also, I had a place I felt I fit in–the classroom. I was intelligent and was praised by my teachers. I loved the library and had a great relationship with my librarian. I wasn’t isolated.

This might be why teasing among friends isn’t bullying, as well. You’re all equals. You aren’t isolated or significantly weaker than one another. You don’t feel truly threatened by any of your friends, so a bit of teasing doesn’t affect you as much.

However, there are kids out there who aren’t in this situation. They aren’t as lucky as I was to have those one or two friends who would stand up for them. They don’t have a place they felt like they belong, and/or they don’t have a good relationship with their family where they feel protected.  This, sadly, isn’t as rare as we’d like to think it is.

Take a moment and think about whether you’ve ever seen someone be bullied or teased. Have you ever bullied or teased someone? Have you been bullied or teased yourself? Have you just heard about someone being bullied or teased before? It’s not so rare, is it?
1 in 3 middle school and high school students are bullied.  Sometimes, it’s not that obvious.  Guys tend to tease openly and quickly. They’ll make quick quips about something, or push someone around for a bit. Girls tend to bully long term. We ladies know how to hold a grudge and stay angry. Girls can make someone’s whole year a hell. This type of aggression, relational aggression, is more dangerous than physical aggression. It wears you down a lot faster, especially if it hinders a child’s ability to make friends. It can make their whole outlook on life and their worth change.

There is something you can do, though. One friend makes a difference. If you see someone being bullied, either subversively or obviously, say something about it. I know it’s scary. I know you feel overwhelmed, and I know you’re worried about what others will think about you if you do this. However, think about it. Do you really want to be accepted by someone who thinks being cruel to someone is ok? Do you really think their opinion of you is important? If you speak up, you might encourage other people to speak up too. Most likely, the other people around are thinking this is wrong too.
What if they bully you back? Remember what I said: even one friend makes a difference. You’ve just made a friend by standing up for someone. Stick together. If you have other friends, they’ll be on your side too. It’s amazing how having friends can increase your self confidence and make you feel stronger. You’ve just made yourself a harder target. Even if they try to bully you, it won’t affect you that much. It might still hurt, but you can recover. Meanwhile, that bully is making more and more enemies.  Eventually, they’ll be in a bad position, and you’ll be fine.

It’s important to talk about this now. Look around you and see how many people are being hurt by others. If you can make a difference in just one person’s life, you’ve done a lot.   icon Stop Bullying