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“The Religion” Strikes Back….

December 4, 2008

“This is a call for flight [] to []. All passengers in business class and first class can now start boarding the flight….” The practiced voice came over the PA system. The announcement cut through the hushed voices and idle chit chat of other passengers. Some listened intently with their ears perked, trying to catch the first few words, before realizing it wasn’t meant for them. As the hushed voices resumed I looked down at my watch. I was on my way to India for a brief vacation and I still had a few lazy hours ahead of me. So, I took out my spy thriller and started reading.

At the exact same moment some thousands of miles away in Mumbai, unknown to me at that time, another thriller was in motion. But, unfortunately this one was for real. A few young, brainwashed men who took it upon themselves to spread mayhem and kill innocent people to fulfill the duty of their religion, were experiencing the thrill of their lives. By the time, the ordeal was over, hundreds lay dead or wounded. Their religion of hate and murder had left hundreds of orphan children, widowed spouses and childless parents behind.

It was an extremely depressing incident. Like a movie played over and over again, the images still come back to haunt me. Looking at the visuals of train station and hotels on TV, I was trying to imagine how it must have felt for the victims to be sitting in a room, with a fanatic killer pumping bullets into anything that moved. Did these victims know what was to happen to them when they went in there? Did the parents and spouses realize that they were bidding their near ones adieu for the last time that evening?

My imagination fails me and I hope that no one has to imagine or be part of it ever. Yet, I know how futile this hope is. Such incidents in India have become more and more regular in the last few years and I know as long as the present state of governmental ineptitude continues, as long as Muslim children continue to be brainwashed about the necessity of ‘jihad’ and as long as Muslim extremists continue to believe in the glory of martyrdom at the cost of innocent human lives, the tide of such incidents will not subside. Anger, frustration, sadness, empathy, condolence and all other such emotions are meaningless. No matter how everyone feels for the victims and their families, it will not bring a single person back from the dead. The loss is permanent and irreversible.

Initially, this incident left me with a feeling of frustration at my inability to make any difference. Like a twig swept by a deluge against its own will,I felt really helpless. I wondered if my words would ever make any difference. There are countries where such incidents are everyday affairs. Where people are no better than ants waiting to be crushed by the lone terrorists bomb.  And, when I look at the millions of people in my own country who are without any access to the internet, who are brainwashed day-in and day-out by the media and religious  leaders to believe in the sham called “religion” and who don’t even have a chance of exploring alternative points of view, I question the efficacy of my words. Then I think to myself, I am probably expecting too much. And, I remember the story of the starfish and realize that it is not the multitudes I am trying to sway. As a blogger, I may not be able to bring about a revolution, but if my blog can turn a single heart, change a single mind or turn a single pair of legs away from folly called religion, away from the violence perpetrated in its name, that would be the sweetest fruit of my efforts.

And, as I sit here on the balcony looking at the setting sun, I remember a couple of lines from a poem by Michael Okun

“The yellow brick road is laid one brick at a time,
And can only be shared with one person at a time,
Time is running out …”

* this post was delayed due to lack of internet access. Hopefully I will be able to post more regularly once I return to the US*

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