That’s right. Not a single victim. An entire victim community. And not one, there are many many of them. In America, there are Native Americans, often dubbed “Indians.” In India, there are Hindu Kashmiri Migrants. In some circles of the world, women are still one such community. There was a time when Jews were a victim community.
Jewish holocaust, Ukranian Holodomor, Cambodian and Kazakh genocides.
History is rife with examples. It’s either an oppressive tyrant or random uprising of terrorism. Some can be so used to be oppressed they take it for centuries. Taking pride in their culture, or intelligence or beauty or history. But in the end, one truth is irreplaceable.
They are hiding behind their pride, the feeling of being Powerless.
Being forced into a corner with limited rights and safety sometimes, Sometimes forced to leave behind their homes, hard earned money and possessions and beloved gifts of their ancestors, Sometimes forced into a fight under slave obligations. You can easily think of someone in human history with one of these three predicaments.
But the thing is despite time, despite all the peace they get at the end of it. They can never be whole again.
This is why.
You will find members of such communities very vocal in their political opinions, very passionate in their stands. They can tell you easily the methods and even shortcuts along the legal and administerial lines. They can even have such understanding of human nature, they could be profound philosophers.
But hardly anyone of them Stands a candidate in elections.
They make it so easy for political forces to feign sympathy and turn them into vote banks. Make all kinds of promises and blame oppositions for delays, cancellations, and mishaps. The already hurt easily develop a grudge against those who had no fault in it.
And if one stands alone, its ridiculously easy for him to be Bullied, bought, Brainwashed and humiliated by those already in pursuit of power.
The victims will never stand together in a High-risk, High-reward arena like politics. In fact, they might even gossip. They might even try to persuade a brave soul off their course by listing the dangers, harming their reputations with feigned pity, Offering help from people with ulterior motives sometimes even threatening to cut all ties with them.
Unmistakable in all their life decisions, all their interactions and all their daily choices is the drive to survive. They are proud and angry in their family, with subordinates, and with friends, but humble and unassuming with their elders, their bosses and their idols. It seems benign and common on the surface, but the cracks run deep here.
The education they choose for their children, down to their career paths, their life partners, even the meager freedom of personal privacy is taken away.
You will notice that in such families, loud arguments and sometimes even domestic violence isn’t a very big deal. They are driven by survival, nothing else. They are not being shot at, not being followed, harassed or threatened, yet they never feel safe. The choice of lifestyle is all based around security, the freedom is all to be found is in privileges found in more money.
The culture and richness die when the future is not given art. Freedom of expression. A creative passion to make something lasting. To find and celebrate meaning.
Very rarely do the families raise and celebrate artists, actors, musicians. And even more rarely do the aspirants get to make it their careers. We know our ancestors because of what remains of their creations. By threatening the existence of expression, they make an unforgivable mistake. They violate their own existence in the future.
This is the bane and shame of all slaves and in this case entire communities. There is no denying in this world that there is no greater growth with no greater risk. Every human interaction with nature, even with our daily lives has a bit of acceptable risk. This is the great equalizer of people. Some will take it some will not. The takers gain wisdom in both victory and defeat, the forsaker retains safety and a bit of humility.
But the victims lose their ability to dare. They are crippled in their soul. Doomed to run from certainty to certainty.
Would the exiled victims dare to go back to their homelands? Would they dare to rebuild among hostile neighbors? Would the oppressed speak for themselves, would they demand their rights and seek dignity in equality? Would the forced refuse to work? Risk whips, rods, blades and bullets for their own self-respect?
They are so afraid. They wouldn’t allow their children to marry outside their kind, to avoid outsiders in their families. And if they let it happen, they shun their own loved ones, ostracize them subtly or openly. No enterprises or business initiatives, no risky investments, sometimes not even games of chance that involves money.
They cant speak their minds, quit stressful jobs, travel alone, end toxic marriages. They cant live bravely at all.
The fire dies easily. Sometimes with hardly any setbacks.
Let us suppose you dare. You choose to stand up as a force of change. You start a business, stand for a political campaign, Marry for love, relocate. How many snide comments will it take to make you question yourself? How long will you stand being shunned and ostracized, being humiliated and threatened by your own parents, friends and all your “well-wishers.”
What is your first thought when you wake up? The last thought before sleep?
Is there anything left to fuel the fight you swore to uphold? Is there any spirit left in you to power your actions? How many of those who begin their journeys will keep walking? The dignity of equality, the stability of justice, do you still want those? Or have you given into despair? Overindulgence in food, entertainment, liquor and drugs all to escape what will never leave. The truth.
Many such “firestarters” work in corporate jobs, spending all of their time hoping to do something “Someday.” Love marriages turn loveless and routine. Blames and regrets crowd the once proud “leadership material.” And those too blind to admit are in stasis. Drowning in research, analysis, addictions, and lethargy. Still believing in their goals but too scared to face another setback. If it even happens at all.
Please don’t mistake these as pessimism and critique. These are but symptoms. The problem, the real disease that plagues them is the oldest plague that is perhaps the root of all our suffering.
The true enemy is Fear. The true enemy is Despair.
Victims are still victims because psychologically, the wounds have never healed. The wrongs done to them repeat over and over in their heads. The pain, the fear, the shame are not their past, its a subtle and constant reality to them. Even the thought of the possibility of more suffering is enough to drive sane people to madness.
This isn’t a chastisement, or an attempt to call someone a coward. The reason I mentioned Kashmiri Pandits is that I belong to one of the families therein. I have seen my people and met others. I have understood patterns, motivations, hopes and dreams, suffering and fears.
And therefore I ask my family, my community, my nation, and the world to do us all this little favor. Do not let them win. They could take our wealth, our pride and our lives, but what they left behind, the fear, the hate, the despair. Do not accept it. Don’t let them take your heart, your ability to love. If they take that, they have taken away our future.
Stand, speak, work, persist.
Sing, Dance, Create, Love.
Run, Hustle, Risk, Dare.
Because nobody will remember technicalities or skill.
Only that you kept going.
Only that you still stand strong.