Tokenism – Another modern affliction !

I just read an article posted by Meenu about why some people are not colouring their Facebook profile photos in the colours of the French flag and then a whole bunch of comments. I haven’t coloured mine either and I have a different reason … I don’t forward any messages that bring good luck, I don’t even re-post the “If you love your mother/brother/cat/dog/milk etc” type ones either. I have reposted some messages regarding cancer and didn’t like doing those either. I did colour my profile picture for the Digital India campaign though because I would do anything that furthers India’s cause.

Last year on Women’s Day I had written this blog – Tokenism won’t do and that’s why I don’t like forwarding inane messages and change the colour of my profile photo. Nothing wrong with it, but it gives us a false sense of having done something. 

Remember some months back, nearly everyone on Facebook in India had coloured their profile photos with “Pride” colours for showing solidarity/happiness that the U.S relaxed laws on Gay marriages. Am very happy that the U.S is growing up and hopefully someday India will regress to the liberal, inclusive past on gay and homosexual rights and accord them their rightful status in the human society. But what were we celebrating when the US of A passed the law ? Did we suddenly become more accepting of our gay or lesbian child ? Did we atleast wind down our car windows and smile when we gave some money to the transgender who was there ? Tokenism won’t do …

You can wash your sins even in a spoonful of water from any source, but we believe the Ganga will wash away all our sins – nice try. Remain crass and all consuming, kill your neighbour and on an auspicious day dunk yourself in the Ganges and suddenly you are pure. The Ganga just became impure !! She cannot purify you and if it was that easy, the world would have woken up to it much sooner. 

Tokenism reduces the sublime to the mundane and in politics, tokenism is known by another name “appeasement”. If we cared deeply about the Dalits – we would have spent time educating them and finding them meaningful employment, not creating another category for further appeasement. :(:(. 

In my dad’s family, we have a family member who is Muslim. He was adopted by my grandmother when he came to work in the field. He carried her to the cremation ground and he is there is every wedding in the family. We buy new clothes for him on every festive occasion just like for the rest of us. My grandmother would hide treats for him and ensure he got to eat all the goodies that she made. So we grew up not knowing how to treat a Muslim differently. My mother would sing in the church because her best friend at school was a Christian. I know all the festivals where I would get goodies to eat – that’s all that mattered and still that’s all that matters. There was no tokenism in my grandmother’s inclusive behaviour – she didn’t get any brownie points from anyone. My mother likes to pray to God and if you give her something nice to eat afterwards she will pray happily. Who she prays to never mattered. Her favourite is Hanuman but if Jesus can ensure she gets nicer treats, she will drop Hanuman for a few days. She genuinely can’t see the difference. There is no tokenism in her love for her God and all Gods are acceptable. 

The need of the hour is strong action and positive effort. Nothing wrong in colouring the Facebook profile with the colours of the French Flag, but please also colour it for Iraq, also colour it for Syria, Kenya, Indonesia… Colour it for the world. The business of terrorism is thriving – do something to shut that business down.

A brilliant piece on Paris – Paris – you don’t want to read this. Praying for a wiser world. 

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