Of Love and Hate

My dear son,

This is the month of love, they say. And yet, sadly, all one can see spreading around is ugly, festering hate.  

There is a conflict that plagues our nation, which started long before you were even born; for reasons that are far too complicated to explain to a six-year-old (to tell you the truth, the more I talk to grown-ups, I get convinced that even most of them don't understand the half of it). I hope I get to witness the end of this conflict in my lifetime; although, regrettably, all evidence is to the contrary. It's a terrible legacy to leave for our children - the wars they didn't start and hence are possibly ill-equipped to end. More than that, or anything, it's just not fair to our next generation. And yet, it is the only legacy we seem to be creating for them – war with Global Warming; war with pollution; war with lifestyle diseases, which are becoming more and more common and resistant; war with mental health; war with escalating crime rates.

While a lot of these conflicts are on a scale and of intensity wherein I doubt an individual contribution can do much; there are some, where you fighting it out still stands a chance. The war between love and hate is one such war.

The paradox of parenting is, that plagued by the magnitude of the many things we wish to teach our kids, I guess we forget to teach them the most important ones. Like, how to love and what to hate. I could make it simple for you, by saying 'love everyone, and hate no one'. But I guess you're stuck with a mother who's too critical to love some things, and too passionate to not hate some others. Besides, I think life is too complex to be covered under some blanket platitude.

Turns out, the real challenge lies in knowing 'what is love' and 'what is hate'. There are so many definitions of it, and not all of them are correct. In fact, some aren't even close. Not many people care to find out what their personal and unique definition is. They don't care to come up with their own lists of what they love and what they hate. They just inherit one from their family or copy a friend's or colleagues. We've talked many times about the basic human nature of avoiding genuine effort, haven't we? Once again, it comes into play here.

It is easier to say that you love a particular singer's work because everyone else does; than, say, make an effort and listen to many artists across genres and figure out what you really love. If everyone hates pineapple on their pizza, you say you hate it too; although secretly, you dig that tangy twist. It works just that simple.

Doesn't sound like such a harmless thing so far - following these common trends of love and hate - you'd say?

But it is. Because that's how pop culture is driven, thrives, and gains more and more gravitational pull. And, as you'd one day learn in science in school, anything acquiring unlimited gravity can become too dangerous. That's how black holes are formed in our universe; an entity so dark and intense that everything is lost in it without a trace. In the context of our conversation at the moment, loving what others love or hating what others hate, without truly understanding things yourself, can be a black hole like that.

Allow me to explain.

Something horrendous happened a few days ago, ironically on a day when the world was out celebrating love in its most commercially flamboyant form. Men died; many brave and commendable men. Men, who risk their lives to protect the lives of others; and more often than not, barely get anything for it - love, respect, or even a decent remuneration. We call them soldiers. Now, these brave souls – the ones we lost that day – will be called martyrs.

But the very country which they had sworn to protect, suddenly burst out in self-destructive flames. In anguish and pain initially, I agree. But after that mist settled, all that was left to see were people using this tragic episode as a platform to settle the scores of their misplaced and often unreasonable hatred.   

It is sad that we have come to live in a world where one is known less for who they are and more for what they love; or more accurately, hate. So one is not a football fan, rather a Manchester United fan; and even more so, a fanatical hater of other teams. One is not a politically aware person as much as a worshipper of one political party, and a sworn enemy of those who support any other. One cannot love their country unless they display hatred – the filthiest, venom-spewing kind of hatred – towards the other country.

It's not that people really hate those 'others' so much. They don't even know what the people on the other side are like. How can one hate what they know nothing of? It's just the nature of this beast, though – this kind of love; the blinding, misguided love that has suddenly descended on us like locusts. Sadly, this kind of love is trending at the moment. And nothing appeals more to us humans than following what is 'in trend'.

It is both amusing and heartbreaking to see that a lot of people, who are spewing hatred in the name of grief for the martyrs of this nation, are the same people who wouldn't spare a few hundred rupees for the funds that go the families of these martyrs. Someone shared on social media, a picture of a soldier traveling in the most uncomfortable fashion in a train; only because he had no reservations and no one even thought to share their seat with him. These soldiers live, work and fight in the most ill-provided for, and sometimes downright dangerous conditions because the country lacks the funds to support them. A country which, I must add is currently busy building world-class statues of people who probably wouldn't have ever asked for such dubious reverence anyway. Now the same people who couldn't offer these soldiers a seat on the train are up-in-arms – figuratively speaking, of course, because in reality they are sunk deep into their armchairs and fighting this war with their thumbs on a phone screen. Try as I might, I cannot believe, that this is being done truly out of their 'love' for these brave soldiers.

That's the thing about black holes. They are dark. So dark that it is easy to lose sight and sense of perspective. It is easy to confuse our hatred for someone as our love for someone else. It is even easier to project it so because the others can't see clearly too.

I hope we're able to defy the laws of physics and human moral decadence and escape this black hole. Even if we can't I hope your generation can. I hope you learn to see clearly; build that capacity and garner that wisdom. I hope you can learn to love and hate for the right reasons. Because that kind of sound judgment guiding your action is the only way your world doesn't end up burning like ours is. 

It won't be easy, my dear boy. But I hope you do try.

Love, now and forever

Your Mother

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