When we are about to watch a film, we ask who the hero is. Not the actor. But the hero. We are obsessed with them. We try to copy the way they look, the way they walk and talk and we follow what they say, with or without rationality.
And we like our heroes to be a certain way. We like them taking justice into their own hands.
And if you think that’s just films, well, 113 people have been killed in mob lynchings since 2015 in this country.
Why do we do that? I am not qualified to answer that. But I believe I have the answer to what its consequences are. That hero-worshipping eventually spills out of the screen and actually affects our lives and the lives of others around us.
We are quick to go after anyone questioning the armed forces. But when those very men, in those uniforms, complain about bad gear or ration or remuneration or their pensions, we choose to stay quiet, we let them suffer.
We let them suffer because our heroes have taught us to fight only when there’s a crowd to watch. So, we don’t show up for our soldiers when they need a life of dignity, because there are no theatrics involved.
We let news anchors lead ‘debates’ that they are willing to call ‘wars’ in their newsrooms. What happened to the days of just telling the news, letting the electorate — us — know the abject truth, so that we can decide for ourselves?
Our cricketers and Olympic medalists come out and support economic blunders like demonetisation and we cheer them for it because they ‘fight for the country’.
Sportspersons aren’t fighting for us. They are really exceptional at something and they get paid in millions to do that one thing. It doesn’t make them an expert on everything else.
Don’t get me wrong, there is no harm in admiring talented and successful people. They really set the bar for excellence in the world. But considering their opinion on economics or politics or foreign policy as the gospel is a very slippery slope.
We all want this country to be a superpower. But we are somehow refusing to look up to the people who are actually trying to do something, make a difference.
So why don’t we know a single person who has helped build toilets and clean those beaches for us?
Week 160.— Afroz shah (@AfrozShah1) November 11, 2018
The miraculous journey to clean the beach and to get circular economy in our lives is depicted beautifully in this video – 3 years timeline.
All of us work together -Citizens, MCGM, Plastic producers, Elected representatives. Spellbound results.
Hence I move on. pic.twitter.com/xmKMeYDcHR
Burdened by loans, our farmers commit suicide every day. Thousands of them die every day on the streets, while we cheer for actors who play their characters onscreen. I am willing to be bet my house, that of the thousands of farmers that kill themselves each year, we can’t even name one!
We like and respect our women when they are the ‘ideal’ mothers, wives, sisters. But the moment, they dare to cross the Laxman Rekha of our limitations, we term them as whores, as caste traitors and murder them for our ‘honour’.
We have all seen the PV Sindhu Vs Veere Di Wedding meme, haven’t we? The meme about who the real women of India are? What real feminism is! We have all seen it.
And we do all this and worse because our heroes do it. Our actors, our politicians, our cricketers and other sportspersons do it. Kartik Aryan ranting against women in every movie doesn’t make him a hero. We only feel he’s one of us because he confirms our own misogyny.
We even idolise someone as abusive as Kabir Singh, not just because we want to be him but because we are already like him and the character being portrayed by an A-list actor just legitimises us being really toxic assholes!
You want real heroes, look around you. The people helping riot victims in Delhi, they are the heroes. The Khalsa Aid, they are heroes. Gauri Lankesh was a hero.
Amitabh Bachchan did ads for polio. But you know who made sure polio got eradicated? The medical staff, the workers who went to hundreds and thousands of villages and cities to give you those two drops.
The doctors, nurses, other medical staff who are serving on the frontline today during a pandemic, saving our lives at the cost of their own, they are heroes.
They get spit on, abused by neighbours, harassed by the public, and yet they keep on working day in and day out without regard for religion, caste or creed, they are the heroes we should be looking up to.
A hero can be anyone, even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy’s shoulders to let him know that the world hadn’t ended.
Our own security guards coming to work every day, despite the circumstances, they are the heroes. Even someone doing as little as feeding a stray animal during a lockdown is a hero.
We don’t need to build monuments for them. We can’t. There are too many of them. But we need to see them, acknowledge them, praise them and most importantly, help them and if possible, try and be like them.