‘Unity in diversity’ not a cliche; It’s a magic potion
The ‘problem’ here is our deeply fractured society, what we commonly refer to as ‘diversity’. It is actually not a problem.
BENGALURU: For solutions to any problem, it boils down to individuals. When the mind is made up at the individual level that a problem needs to be solved, it can – and will – be solved. It only needs such individuals to get together as a mass and push for a solution.
The ‘problem’ here is our deeply fractured society, what we commonly refer to as ‘diversity’. It is actually not a problem. Diversity is good. Pluralism is needed. A multi-faceted society is a boon. It is the base for healthy exchange, to learn from each other and benefit, to grow together, to put down common problems that affect all of us, and to give a boost to art, culture, science and technology, medicine and engineering so problems are mitigated and healthy, happy living gets a chance – for all, without exceptions.
Sounds Utopian, right? But then, what is life without ideals and dreams for a better future for all – again, without exceptions?
Unfortunately, the diversity that we should be proud of is exploited by sections, political or otherwise, to give way to hate and suspicion. This grows like invasive weeds from inside deep cracks in a parched, dry land, allowing it to fester and threaten the very fabric of our society. We then blame that very diversity we have been proud of for the situation that we have brought upon ourselves.
Isn’t that where we stand today? Differences which are communal, caste-based, linguistic, sexist and region-based in nature, which should have been the scaffolds of a healthy, pluralistic society, instead fuel a hate machine that threatens our society.
“Upper caste-lower caste”, “majority community-minority community”, “North Indians-South Indians”, “men-women-transgender”, “sexual orientation”, “urban-rural” – all these are potential flashpoints that invite disharmony.
These are nurtured by elements – again, political or otherwise – who are the only ones who seek to gain from it, while heaping misery on the vast majority of the population, irrespective of their communal, caste, linguistic or regional affinities.
But, irrespective of where they belong, or their roots, the entire population is exposed to the same combination of problems, be it health, finances, security of livelihood, life, happiness and sorrows, and their vulnerabilities to disasters, natural and man-made. The solution to a problem faced by an individual with a particular social profile is the same for that faced by another from a different social profile. The treatment for tuberculosis or pneumonia is the same for a Hindu as it is for a Muslim. Solutions to such problems facing the people do not recognise divisions that are nurtured and kept festering in our minds. The air we breathe and the water we drink does not change based on the individual’s social or communal profile. We are equal before the solutions.
Instead of coming together and tackling the problems to ensure maximum benefits for the maximum number of people irrespective of the existing divisions, we fall for the divisions nurtured by the selfish elements seeking power through perpetuating those divisions. We are allowing ourselves to be held captive by those few who seek to enhance their power by widening the social divisions.
The famous author and science communicator, Isaac Asimov, in the afterword to his book A Choice of Catastrophes: The Disasters That Threaten Our World, states, “…if we concentrate coolly on the problems that face all of humanity, rather than emotionally on such nineteenth century matters as national security and local pride; if we recognise that it is not one’s neighbours who are the enemy, but misery, ignorance, and the cold indifference of natural law, then we can solve all the problems that face us. We can deliberately choose to have no catastrophes at all.” Well, start here in Bengaluru, and set an example for all to follow...
(The writers’ views are their own)