An Open Letter to Bigots on Social Media

Uday Mane
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Social Media Bigots

I was diagnosed with polio when I was two and spent most of my childhood limping to school and back. One of my biggest scares during those days was to board a bus. I was afraid that the driver might move the bus before I had boarded it, resulting in a fall. I had a friend who would accompany me to the bus-stop every day. We would wait for the bus. When the bus arrived at the stop, he would let me get in first and pretend to board behind me. When he was sure I was inside, he would quickly get down, wave a good-bye and go his way.

During my college days, I used to hang out in cafeteria with a friend. This friend had come from UP to pursue engineering. His dream was to settle in Mumbai with a good job to his name. A fascinating thing about this friend was that he was an excellent poet and wrote amazing shayaris. I was so inspired by this friend that every time we met, I requested for a shayari instead of a traditional hello.

Two years ago, I started working on a book. I quit a full-time job, took up free-lancing and worked on the book during the night. During the first two months, I did not land any free-lancing project. It made me nervous. Did I take a wrong decision by quitting a full-time job? “This is the best decision you have made. You are destined to be a writer,” a friend showed the belief I was lacking and convinced me otherwise.

Two years later, I did what I was set to do and it would not have been possible without the enduring support and constructive criticism of that friend.

There. I gave you a glimpse into three facets of my life. Apart from being good people, what is common between these friends? They are all devout Muslims.

So when someone shares an anti-religious post on social media platforms, they hurt a friend’s sentiment. They hurt my friend from school who cared about me. They hurt my friend from college who shared his passion with me. And they also hurt my friend who has supported me in my bad days. Every time someone points a finger at a religion, they point a finger at my friends.

The concept of freedom is often misunderstood. We have freedom to express our opinion. We do not have the freedom to hurt a religious sentiment. History stands witness to several massacres over past centuries. Each time a man has tried to attack another religion to establish and instill his own, millions have died. Among these millions are children have who quietly suffered and questioned; why are men  slaughtering each other over whose God is greater?

The definition of "terrorist" is also often misunderstood. Hitler’s agenda against Jews was as much an act of vandalism as was Bin Laden’s agenda against Americans. Hitler was a terrorist and he was not a Muslim. To put it simply, every Muslim is not a terrorist and every terrorist is not a Muslim. Is it really difficult to fathom that? Of course, there are bad Muslims. But then, there are bad Hindus and bad Christians as well. If you take away the religion from the last two lines, you are left with bad people alone. There is no bad religion, only bad people.

Social Media has taken the idea of freedom to a whole new level. One minute you see a post and the next minute you are expressing your precious opinion to a dozen strangers. I am not saying that sharing posts of your choice is wrong. By sharing, you spread the knowledge to masses. However, I fail to understand how posts such as these will help our fellow countrymen and generations to follow. I fail to understand how it will bring peace to our civilization.

Every time you share a post, you will make somebody smile or break somebody’s heart. Of course, the choice is yours and no one can take that right away from you, except may be, the Cyber Crime Cell. The point, however, is that next time you want to share a post, ask yourself, should I make them smile or should I break their heart?

There is so much good to be done in our world. Go help a blind person cross the road. Go help a poor satiate his hunger. Go help an old lady with her bags. Offer your seat to an old man. Do all of that and post it on social media. Share those posts with your friends. Let those things be viral. There is a lot to do in this world apart from pointing at each other’s religions and questioning their Gods.

If we, as humans, are not greater in our being, then we are not worthy of being in the first place. Let’s prove to ourselves that the only planet with life form is indeed worth living on. How do we start? Stop spreading (sharing) hatred, especially, religious.

We have witnessed enough riots over these debates. Haven’t we? So when is enough really enough?

You must be wondering why I am writing all of this. I believe that one thing always leads to another. The freedom social media offers comes with immense power and responsibility that we are yet to understand fully. Let us not misuse that power and be an irresponsible citizen. Every anti-religious post we share with others may just lead us to another uncalled for massacre. You never know what form terrorism comes in. We need to ask ourselves; do we really need another embarrassment for our country?

Finally, I want to deliver a personal message to all my Muslim friends. When someone points a finger at you, your religion or your God, remember that there is a Hindu and a Christian on your side. Let us live in peace and harmony. Let us not raise unnecessary questions against each other. Let us have the freedom to choose our Gods. Let us have faith in each other’s Gods. Let us be. We have the right to choose. We are men and women of great intellect. We are humans. So let us act like one.

Republished from: The Allegorist

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