Yesterday, something very disturbing happened to me. It happened on Twitter, giving me my first taste of what felt like the famed vitriolic twitterati and reason to fear them.
What happened was this.
I shared an article on First Post by G. Pramod Kumar (link available at the end of this post) pointing out that yoga was not the only route to cultivating a sense of well-being. In his post, Pramod Kumar also questions whether yoga has the healing powers many claim. In support of the validity of the question raised, Kumar cites a number of scientific studies.
Mind, nowhere does Kumar actually denigrate the do-good yoga factor. When I read the post, my take-away was that it would do the science of yoga a world of good if serious yoga practitioners and the Indian government instituted a line of modern, scientific enquiry, documenting proof of concept of yoga’s goodness and healing powers.
I also thought the post was worth sharing in the spirit of critical thinking and knowledge-seeking-truth.
The other point where I found myself agreeing with Kumar was where he says, “By revelling in reflected glory of the global popularity of Yoga, we are not only escaping to an imaginary past to cover up our failures, but are also indulging in yet another round of delusional cultural revivalism for political reasons.”
The last point is something I had also made in an earlier post #AddInIndia to #MakeInIndia where I pointed out, “How long will India’s people continue to rest on the shoulders of ancestors who left behind such a rich diverse legacy in culture and thought?”
See anything wrong so far? No, don’t answer that just yet. In the same spirit of knowledge-seeking-truth, read Pramod Kumar’s post first.
Read it? Okay, now tell me what your take was.
I hope there are many enquiring minds out there who, like me, thought the post made some valid arguments.
On an aside, I would also like to defend myself by pointing out that I had recently blogged about the real meaning of yoga (or rather, my understanding of it) in posts titled The Master Yogi and Om and Freed! where I had pointed out that:
These posts should tell you that I shared Kumar’s post in the spirit of deepening people’s understanding of the subject. That’s all!
I was naive in assuming that most people would feel the same.
I was flooded by several indignant tweets defending the practice of yoga. While most were merely defending their belief (which they are entitled to), a few launched what seemed like a personal attack.
What particularly distressed me was that most of these tweets were from fellow Indians, making me wonder if my country would ever revive her ancient prowess in enquiry, knowledge gathering and innovation!
I must confess that after tweeting a response requesting for open-mindedness, I stayed away from the flood of tweets, even blocking one person from my account.
I was running scared pure and simple.
Then, last night I asked myself if I was going to allow voices of ‘blind faith’ to scare me into driving my reason and other like-minded voices underground?
Call it coincidence or a heightened consciousness of the troubling trend, but through the day several posts I came across gave me the courage to write this one. It was almost as if the Universe was placing these posts in my life path.
The point is that there’s room in a democracy for people who ridicule and denounce those who disagree with them; there isn’t any place for eliminationist rhetoric, for suggestions that those on the other side of a debate must be removed from that debate by whatever means necessary. And it’s the saturation of our political discourse — and especially our airwaves — with eliminationist rhetoric that lies behind the rising tide of violence.
I am not suggesting that the tweets I faced on yoga yesterday were eliminationist rhetoric. But I can tell you I was scared because we are increasingly living in a climate of fear and mistrust.
The disturbing thoughts I have had since yesterday morning also made me wonder about one more thing.
Sometime ago, I had shared a post on Facebook on the Angel of Kobane, thinking that one needs to highlight the act of courage by a young, Kurdish woman. At that time, a friend admonished me by pointing out that by contributing to the post going viral, I was drawing attention to the young woman who would now be targeted by the enemy.
Sometime later, when I read that the Angel of Kobane had been killed, I was flooded by a sense of guilt. As it happens, today, while referencing for this post, I discovered that the entire story was more fiction than fact. Read #BBCtrending: Who is the Ángel of Kobane’?
Be that as it may, the fact remains that in the current climate of divisive forces and hate, there is a risk in drawing attention to a different way of life.
Yesterday I also came across a post on Mail Online by Flora Drury on a rather liberated, nomadic Islamic tribe. I was impressed by the story but hesitated to share it for fear that the tribe would now be targeted by radical forces.
What is the right thing to do here? Share such news and give people the courage to speak up like Kim Tackett has done? Or let fear silence one, driving reason, goodness and courage underground?
What would you do?
My decision is self-evident in this post.
#goodness #truth #criticalthinking
Featured Image Credit: A statue of Atlas at the Home Goods in Milford, Massachusetts. Image ‘Atlas’ by Sean (Flickr.com CC By-ND 2.0)
*Flora Drury. Sex and the Sahara: Striking photographs of the mysterious Islamic tribe where women embrace sexual freedoms, dictate who gets what in divorce and don’t wear the veil because men ‘want to see their beautiful faces’. Mail Online. June 24, 2015.
*G. Pramod Kumar. Dear yoga fans, here is a reality check: Your hollowed asanas are no better than running around the track. First Post. June 23, 2015.
*Paul Krugman. Climate of Hate. The New York Times. Jan 9, 2011.
*Reporting by India Rakusen, Mukul Devichand, Guney Yildiz and Anne-Marie Tomchak. #BBCtrending: Who is the Ángel of Kobane’? November 3, 2014.
*Kim Tackett. Our country has a terrible disease, and it’s called racism. Tour of no regrets. June 24, 2015.