Sunday, March 3, 2024

Bob’s Banter

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By Robert Clements

No, Never Again..!
After the Second World War, and knowing the atrocities committed by Hitler, the world vowed that never again would they allow such a thing to happen, or such a person like him to rule unhindered. Looks like the world quickly forgets.
I do remember that Night of Terror exactly fifteen years ago in Mumbai. I was just a few feet away as hundreds died! The Press Club where I was spending that evening is situated a few hundred feet from both the CST station where innocents were mercilessly gunned down, and nearly in front of the Madam Cama hospital where others were ruthlessly shot point blank that night, and we were also a few kilometres from the Taj Hotel where mass executions took place. As gunshots receded, we heard the sound of the lone jeep which sped down the road outside, and which carried the three brave officers who became lifeless bodies in a few minutes.
I saw photographers running in, unloading ghastly pictures of the bloodied railway station, where terrified men, women and children, in crouching positions, behind sad, pathetic remnants of their baggage were mowed down by the machine guns of Kasab and his accomplice. I was hardly a few feet away, and it was only providence that did not allow these terrorists from walking towards the bright lit Mumbai Press Club, where we would have all been sitting ducks.
But I believe there’s a reason we scribes were spared; and that, to tell the world, “Never Again!”
Never again should such carnage take place, where both poor and wealthy were targeted and killed, even as they looked at their bloodied selves with lifeless eyes, asking ‘Why?”
Yes why? What made Kasab and gang willingly sail stormy seas, risk their lives from Navy and Coast Guard, strut through strangers and walk fearlessly into four different locations to kill, and be killed?
Why? Well, evidence gathered shows they had been fed with scenes of atrocities and conditioned to believe that injustice of a high magnitude was being inflicted on their community in our country. In their minds, they repaid hate with hate. And that is how terrorism thrives; on the wheels of hate!
Those wheels are turning now. With no thought of the damage this can do to our nation, hate is being used as a tool to win elections. Anger, harnessed to create the right atmosphere for violence, and with violence comes rapes and murders as we are seeing time and again.
I was hardly a few feet away. Why, were we spared? I believe, to shout, “Never Again!”
You can stop it! By not allowing such sowers of hate get elected. Can you see lifeless eyes, from the Taj Mahal Hotel, Oberoi Hotel, CST station, Leopold Café and the Chabad Jewish House, pleading silently, “Never again!”
But to convince others that this should not happen again, we as a nation need to be healed of our past hurts and grievances. Nelson Mandela taught the world a huge lesson on forgiveness when, emerging from prison after twenty- seven years and being elected president of South Africa, he asked his jailor to join him on the inauguration platform.
He then asked Archbishop Desmond Tutu to head an official government panel, with a daunting name; the Truth and Reconciliation Committee.
Mandela sought to defuse the natural patterns of revenge he had seen in so many countries where one oppressed race or tribe took control from another.
For the next two-and-a-half years South Africans listened to reports of atrocities coming out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings. The rules were simple: if a white policeman or army officer voluntarily faced his accusers, confessed his crime, and fully acknowledged his guilt, he could not be tried and punished for that crime. Hardliners grumbled about the obvious injustice of letting criminals go free, but Mandela insisted that the country needed healing, even more than it needed justice!
And because of one man’s spirit of forgiveness, today in South Africa, blacks and whites are learning to live together in harmony.
Maybe, it’s a lesson we in our country need to learn from. We have decided to keep August 14th as, “Partition Horrors Remembrance Day”. Yes, during partition the most unimaginable horrors were committed and memories of many of them live on. But it was on both sides. As much as they did to us, we did to them, and so, as many people across the border live in pain as there are here, but unless we as a country empty ourselves of the hate, those remembrances will impede our progress as a nation.
Our nation needs healing. By having such ‘hate remembrances’ we are igniting anger and hate that burned seventy-five years ago. We all know these are political moves, but now our leaders need to move beyond such petty politics. Then and only then can we as a nation, as a people shout, ‘Never Again!’
I love using EMPTY as an acronym which we all can use. The E is for us to Engage with those incidents or hurts that happened. Open it up, look at the festering wound, and remove the emotional memory that has a hold on us. M is to mend those areas that need healing. P is to prevent such emotions taking the place of hate and anger. T is thanksgiving, that we as individuals are alive and kicking and as a nation, robust and healthy. The Y is to yield ourselves to a Higher Power, that will teach us how to infuse love and forgiveness into hateful situations or unpleasant memories.
Our country is a tolerant nation, and just as Nelson Mandela did, let us likewise do, because we need that healing touch, and it’s only we who can give ourselves that!
To be able to stop terrorism from raising its ugly head, we need to be healed ourselves and then no Kasab or gun wielding terrorist will ever again be able to enter our country.
No, never again..!
(The Author conducts an Online Writers and Speakers Course. For more details send a thumbs-up to him on WhatsApp 9892572883 Email [email protected])

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