The passing of an old man

When I see the kind and number of vicious and malevolent messages on social media about the death of Fr. Stan Swamy, my mind goes back to the time when Indira Gandhi was murdered. She had a lot of haters too, millions on millions hated her, especially after the atrocities during the Emergency. And yet, after she was killed and leadership was foisted on Rajiv Gandhi, almost the entire country overcame the hatred, came together and elected him to office, much as they hated the Congress. He got 401 seats, almost a hundred seats more than Modi got in 2019.

By the way, I am no supporter of Mrs. Gandhi. Nor do I like any member of the Gandhi family. But that is not the point.I don’t even remotely wish ill on anybody but I have to say that if a similar situation were to arise today – let’s say Sonia Gandhi falls sick and something untoward happens – there will be no sympathy wave for Rahul Gandhi or Priyanka Gandhi or for anybody else or for Congress. Nothing will change. None of them will get even one more vote than they would have otherwise.

Something has taken over the heart and mind of this country, a division more powerful, more consuming than hatred, something that has eaten away its soul and humanity. This hatred in society is now so entrenched that it has rendered us incapable of the humanity that we showed in 1984.I have no idea about Father Swamy or his politics. I do not know whether he really did any useful work for the adivasis and tribals. Since there has been no trial, no show of evidence, I do not know whether he really committed any of the crimes he is being accused of.

I only know that he was an old man and he died. For me, that is all that matters. If and when we get more details of his crimes, I might decide whether he was a criminal or not. But that will not change two facts for me – that he was an old man and he died. Even at that time, I will not be able to as vicious, as mean as some of the social media posts and messages are.

I am unable to comprehend the show of hatred at Father Swamy’s death. Everyone has elderly parents at home. We scream and scream and lose sleep if a car kills a dog on the street. We mentally mutter a prayer and condole the family of a dead stranger when his hearse passes by on the road. Father Stan Swamy too was somebody’s family member. Yet, we are unable to find it in our soul to, just for one moment, push down the bile and hatred and find a silent prayer of sympathy for the passing of an old, ailing, helpless man the age of our grandparent.

I received the following WhatsApp forward:

I replied:
Wow, very true. Especially for people who don’t understand the significance of either. Because only such people talk of the death of aged and elderly people as ‘flavor of the month’.

What have we become?

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