The world is becoming (has already become?) an intolerant place. Other than being individualistic to the point of excluding and avoiding other people — including near and dear ones — the intolerance is turning into manic rage, enough to kill another person who rub them the wrong way often on piffling grounds. I had written about this in an earlier post but with the increasing incidents of similar cases, I thought another post was in order. Also, our very own Dilli seems to have left the rest of the country behind in this department.
The data compiled by Delhi Police is alarming. In the last year alone, they have statistics to prove that at least 100 cases of murder in the city were provoked by trivial incidents and the score for the last 5 years is nearly 400. Truly, Delhi is fast gaining the dubious distinction of being the crime capital too. Sample these:
- A young man was shot dead when he accidentally knocked down a plate of chicken tikka.
- Another man was killed because he refused to give a cigarette to a friend.
- One was killed for misplacing his roommate’s keys.
- A liquor shop assistant was shot dead when he told a customer that a particular brand of drinks was not available.
It makes one feel sick. More importantly, is it so easy to get a gun or other lethal weapons in this city?
The instances given above don’t include the victims of road rage, the latest one being the crushing to death of Wilson Jolly in Khan Market.
Lack of tolerance is definitely at the root of all this. Sympathy, empathy and restraint are alien emotions to an increasing number of people today. A beggar at the traffic signal evokes impatience and irritation for disturbing our reverie/phone conversation or browsing, rather than sympathy. Or, it could be our mother or grandmother who is nagging us to do something or the child that refuses to obey us – anything in fact that frustrates us in some way makes us lose our temper.
Road rage is something we all face at least once a day if we are regular drivers. It is not about getting killed or even being bashed up. It can be caused by someone who incessantly honks while dangerously tailing you, overtakes or even heckles – verbal assault is as traumatic as other forms of road rage. While the sane amongst us would quietly let the maniac and his actions pass, those who are high-strung would react, resulting in violence.
There is a quote in Tamil saying, Aathirakkaranukku buddhi mattu, meaning ‘an angry person is a fool without reasoning power.’ We call it ‘blind fury’ because we can’t see what we are doing in the moment of uncontrolled anger. I have seen otherwise sane men and women break objects; throw things at people; bang their heads against walls and hurt and even kill themselves or others.
Some of the excuses given for rage-related violence are the stresses of urban living, poor roads and bad traffic management. If that were so, why is Delhi leading in killings related to minor provocations, since the road conditions are far better than say, Bangalore or Chennai and even Mumbai? And as for stresses go, don’t all the big metros have their share of it? Can one honestly say that the Mumbaikar has less stress than the Delhiite? So why does the Dilliwala have such a short fuse? Is the Delhiite so spoiled that he can’t stand a fellow citizen and must clobber/kill him if the latter even slightly annoys him in some way? It would appear that everyone and sundry owns a gun in this city.
According to Chennai police, most cases of road rage in the city go unreported since the matter is sorted out between the two parties without them turning violent. Still, classes have come up where commuters and drivers are being taught the art of defending themselves against road rage, much like classes in self defence for women to protect themselves against eve-teasers and molesters.
For those who try to justify anger as being inherited, it might come as a surprise that it is not true. Anger is an emotion and so cannot be inherited. However, personality traits that trigger anger responses might be inherited. It is actually more a learned behaviour; as when children who observe their parents always arguing and indulging in shouting matches grow up into argumentative adults themselves.
Not long ago, anger was associated with bad behaviour while restraint and control were considered to be polite. But today anger has become synonymous with power, strength and superiority. What’s more, the angry person feels self-righteous about the emotion. Anyone who is accommodating and considerate is either considered weak or the behaviour dubbed as sham. Putting oneself before everyone else is a virtue and highly recommended. Don’t we proudly claim, ‘I don’t care what anyone thinks of me. I will do what I want.’ The result is unbridled rage on the road and elsewhere when someone gets in the way of our being ‘true to ourselves’.
It is high time that we learnt the time-tested virtue of self-restraint and tolerance. For other than harming one’s fellows because of aggressive behaviour, we are also harming ourselves by losing control over our emotions. Raised blood pressure, chances of strokes, ulcers and manic depression are only a few of the disorders that we invite upon ourselves by giving in to our tempers. So how do we control anger? Counting up to ten (and then pulling the trigger)? Drinking a glass of water (before bashing up the next person who annoys us)? Acting calm like the Buddha Himself (while that maniac is tailing our car)?
The way things are going violent anger should be classified as a social offence punishable by law. Maybe too, anger management should become part of school/college curriculum and subjects of workshops held at workplaces. Delhi Police is reportedly mulling over the idea of sending aggressive perpetrators of road rage for anger management courses. But what about the killers? Don’t they manage to get away too lightly?
I have a suggestion: it should be made part of the process of getting the driving license. Just like passing the basic road test for driving, the applicant should be given training in dealing with provocations while driving and these should be conducted by qualified professionals. Oh, I know the suggestion is far fetched and virtually impossible to implement in our corruption ridden and over populous country, but maybe – just maybe – it might work.
Do you have better suggestions? Do share them if you do.