Girish Joshi

Living with Eyes Closed

5 min read

The Beatles fans would know where this is coming from.

Strawberry Fields Forever.

Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.

As Lennon would sing, ‘It’s getting hard to be someone but it all works out.

I’m just using these lines to set up the premise of what I was wanting to say for a long time. About my thoughts on living with eyes closed, living the life of an ignorant. In a world that is opinionated and dogmatic, living with some open-mindedness.

Recently a railway station was rebaptized in India. My friends started putting forth their opinions. One said it’s for symbolism, symbols are needed for societies to sustain and glorify history. The other one said, but this would only provoke unrest and bring communal disharmony. The debate got furious, accusations and blames were made. They vs Us dynamics was established. Past references were brought up. Religions were pinpointed. Nasty opinions were enforced. Meanwhile, I stood and stared. They asked for my opinion. I kept silent.

Another day while I was scrolling through the Quora feed, I came across a discussion on the increasing population of Muslims in India. I could hear dogma screaming in solidarity. I could sense fear in their tone. When they asked for my opinion. I kept silent and scrolled ahead.

Indian mythology taught me that names are powerful. The name Ram commands respect and honour. If you carve Ram on a stone, it would float. I thought it was a myth, but then I saw governments floating and drowning. I saw leaders spending all their might to build Ram Temple while million of homeless kids were starving while living an illiterate and unhealthy life. No one talked of building hospitals, schools, and kitchens. Elections in my country were never fought on these issues. They asked for my opinion. I kept silent.

Someone was lynched in my country a few years back over some pity and piety issue. A lot of writers came forward and returned their awards in form of protest. Instead of questioning the mob, they questioned writers. There was a debate, and this time I was part of it. In conclusion, I said.

Workers protest by putting their tools down.

Doctors protest by putting their stethoscopes down.

Soldiers protest by putting their arms down.

Mobs protest by putting their peace down.

Writers protest by putting their pens down.

When are we putting our dogmas and opinions down?

There were claps and frowned faces. We could win the debate but not people. I kept silent thereafter. They talked of building temples, infusing hatred, instilling fear, and renaming a railway station. I kept silent.

Humans have this overwhelming habit of believing in something. As a part of our survival instinct that probably comes from evolution. We love creating societies and communities, and they have been instrumental in our growth as a species. We believe in what we see, what we hear, and what we understand.

We see what we are shown by the media.

We hear what we are told by the government.

We understand what is simple as religion.

Religion is simple because it preaches the concept of good and evil. Religion reconciles our notion of They vs Us. Us are elites, righteous, and good. They are evil, demonic, and satan. Us feels united because They exist. If They are not there, there is no Us.

Media constantly tells you about the dangers of They. How They are growing in numbers. How They will take away your freedom. How we must stop They. Making you feel the fear is real, the danger is real, and Us must unite.

Us should unite for what? Why should Us fear? So they vote for the government that promises to protect Us from They. Only this government thinks of Us. Only this government can save Us.

This is the narrative that we are told.

I was watching a stand-up comedy show and the comedian asked, ‘If there wouldn’t have been Pakistan, would you still feel patriotic?’.

Interesting question. I asked myself when do I feel most patriotic?

War Time.

When do you feel most religious?

War Time. Bonds grow stronger when you are told that there is a devious enemy out there to ruin you. They are growing in number. They’ll take your country from you. Religions grow and prosper on They vs Us. TRPs rise on They vs Us. Governments are formed on They vs Us.

When I say living with eyes closed. I don’t ask you to be blind, hold your vision and see beyond. All I’m saying is not to accept what you are told. Don’t believe what you see and what you hear. Things going around are a part of a narrative being told. Every time you indulge in the arguments, the narrator gets strong. Every time you fight back, the narrator gets strong. Do you know what storytellers crave for most? Attention. Don’t give it to them. Be ignorant. Live with eyes closed. You’ll see all the misunderstanding that’s going around.

Throw away the concept of They vs Us. It’s hard not being someone, but it will all work out. It has to work out. With too much narration going around, it’s time to live with eyes closed.

Do you know what happens when you ignore a pompous kid crying over a stupid demand?

He stops crying.


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