The Growing Indifference Of Humanity: Is Apathy The New Normal?
The Growing Indifference Of Humanity: Is Apathy The New Normal?

Posted by Anushka Pradeep

“This is today’s “pro-life” movement: arguing that pre-teen girls who are raped and impregnated by their fathers must be legally forced to have a baby because God wanted it that way” – The Guardian

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi allocated this new ministry [the Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries] to Giriraj Singh, who had last year endorsed RSS leader Indresh Kumar’s remarks that a ban on cow meat consumption would bring down the crimes of the ‘Satan’, referring to incidents of mob lynching.” – The Print

Two reports. Two incidents from two very different parts of the world – Alabama and India. At first glance, there’s hardly any similarity between them. But, upon closer look, one would notice a rather obvious connection sticking out like a sore thumb: an invisible thread tying together these reports which are mere examples of horrendous events happening across the globe. A new normal.

News is known to be a general representation of the world we live in. But beyond that, these events shape the ‘normal’ in our societies. Take for example, Sati or racial slavery. And just so we remember: colonial invasion in India back in the 1600s, left unchecked, inevitably led to the emergence of British rule in the country, which would then have been the ‘normal’ for about more than three centuries.

All this begs the question, “Is this the new normal?”

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The media through its various platforms tries to bring us face to face with the many atrocities, crimes varying in description and intensity, taking place across the globe, time and again. But here’s the thing – the shock and dismay that people are expected to feel about these incidents might not even be a realistic idea anymore. The chances of a person empathising with such incidents are just about the same as that of a person typing “LOL” sitting behind the screen and literally laugh out loud, or straightening his shirt each time he was ‘rolling on the floor laughing’ after he typed “ROFL”. But it wouldn’t be fair to blame the audience for this since politics has become a joke at this point – except, no one’s laughing. Let’s just take the above instances to ponder on this idea better.

the shock and dismay that people are expected to feel about these incidents might not even be a realistic idea anymore.

Alabama recently banned abortions, irrespective of the circumstance of pregnancy, which became a sensation worldwide, eventually dividing the citizens of the country and all those who came across the news elsewhere, to split up into two very fancy sounding sections – the pro-choice and the anti-choice. It is indeed a very interesting time for those among us who have a strong desire to fight for a cause, since the present offers the best opportunities to be able to voice one’s opinions irrespective of how unrelated to or how unaware of the cause one might be. Take for example the Republicans, who passed the anti-abortion law despite lacking a uterus, and the men and women who believe pregnancies as a result of rape to be the will of God. It is a sad time to be a woman. Women during the Neolithic era apparently seemed to have fared better.

But then again, it might be unfair to not bring up the existing situation of the legislation in our own country. Ours is a country where crimes against women were never out of the ordinary, so much so that the lives of women are structured in a manner so as to return home unharmed. If a woman is out on the streets late at night or is dressed in an attire that does not adhere to the requirements of the society’s moral code, there’s apparently a chance that members of the opposite gender might just presume that they are sending out invites for abuse, which of course, is the normal here.

Hence with the case of Alabama, it’s going to take more than that to surprise us Indians, since unfortunately, Gods here have different priorities. And we Indians take up the responsibility of pleasing our Gods very seriously. That’s why you’ll notice, cows have way more security than women here do. In fact, if a person is accused of hurting a cow in any manner whatsoever, the evidence is not really number one on our list. At the slightest suspicion, we devote ourselves to punishing the culprits – a task allegedly assigned to us by God himself – and take it upon ourselves to pronounce the verdict for the accused. Let’s take the 2015 Dadri mob case for instance. A 52-year-old Muslim man was murdered by a mob in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, since the victim had some stored meat curry in his refrigerator which the mob was convinced was cow meat despite his claims that the meat was, in fact, that of a goat.

The numb is just the result of a vicious ‘new normal’ circle. We felt too much. But when trauma becomes normal, numbness and apathy become normal too.

Even the perpetrators of the 2012 Delhi gangrape case, which was the last time the whole of India was actually horrified by a crime against women, given the extent of its gruesomeness and its extensive coverage in the media, were only brought to justice after 6 years of committing the crime. But the cow, which wasn’t even a cow but a goat, was served justice without hesitation and without even proper evidence, by common people who had no right to do so. These people had firm beliefs in the opinion that their God is in need of their mediation and representation of people cuisine and especially his sensitivities about Gau Mata (Mother Cow) in general. This is our normal.

Crimes and atrocities have never been out of fashion, but it’s only its trends and developments that catch our attention and unfortunately, crimes against humanity does not limit itself upon the acts of one human or that of a group of individuals, but it has spread from person to people, from the accused in a crime to the judiciary meant to keep the crimes at bay, to the very legislature that was meant to form the laws of the country in the first place, the intention to commit crimes and the ability to escape unscathed from the supposed punishment that was intended in the first place, has spread like a metastatic tumour in the body of justice systems across the world.

Also read: The Illusion of Futility of Protests: Why A Movement Never Dies

The shock that we used to feel any time a fellow being was hurt or abused is fast disappearing. Empathy among humans has long since started to fade away. The world only grows colder each day. So how far are the people to blame for not empathising anymore, for their indifference? The numb is just the result of a vicious ‘new normal’ circle. We felt too much. But when trauma becomes normal, numbness and indifference become normal too. So, welcome to the new normal.

Anushka Pradeep is an introverted artist who takes a leave from her alternate universe once in a while, only to realise it is time to escape again. You can follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

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