Remembering 26/11: replying on a Thursday!

Number of Terrorist Incidents 2000–2008
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I know this post is a little early - 26/11 is still 26 days away. But then I don’t want to commit the mistake of last time this time too. Last time we were caught unprepared. This year is our chance to reply on a Wednesday (the eve of 26/11) or on a Thursday (the day 26/11 falls this year).  We have no excuses , we have ample time to plan and prepare. And don’t get me wrong, I, by no stretch of imagination want the reply to be violent; but what we cannot live with is no reply at all. We have to reply to their hatred, with solidarity and Love. We have to find new and innovative ways of replying in a non-violent manner.  More about that later.

Left brain thinking: Remembering what?

Our feelings of insignificance. Our resolve to do something. Our determination to reply back. Our disgust at the politicians. I remember in the immediate aftermath of 26/11 I felt so insignificant, so detached in my daily chores from the work of nation-building. I was so disgusted with the politicians who were at the helm- I decided to become one myself! I contacted political parties I thought were different (their founders were IITians) and was ready to quit my well-paying job for this spur-of-the-moment emotional decision.  For the first time I wrote something not directly related to psychology on my blog and I was like thinking what is the whole point of blogging about psychology etc. when such terrorists operate uninhibitedly. Slowly after some time, the emotions faded and worse sense prevailed and I kept my job and did not jump into politics or give up on blogging. I still feel emotional decisions are the best and I want you and me to remember the raw emotions we felt in that immediate aftermath of 26/11.

Right brain doodling: remembering why?

Because we forget. Psychological studies time and again show that we forget  even the events that we in the heat of the moment feel that we will never get over- this ranges from an unrequited or jilted love to a death of a loved one.  Within 6 to 12 months we get over the worst of our personal crisis. Similar time frames should exist for national crises like the 26/11 or 9/11. And I do not mean that we should harbor any ill-feelings or not forgive; but it is one thing to forgive and another to forget. As Thomas Szasz has famously put “The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.” I want to be wise. I want you to be wise. Let us forgive, as it heals us, but let us not forget . And most importantly let us not make them forget. Let us keep replying on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Whole brain fusings: remembering how?

When I talk of replying on a Wednesday , I don’t intend the reply to be violent–but it has to be dramatic- it has to be such that it installs fear and terror in the mind of the terrorists. And what better way than to show them our solidarity and our courage- effectively giving rise in them a sinking feeling of despair- that their tactics and strategy of terror is not going to work.  Also when people do not get divided on religious grounds, when people do not mistake the terrorists  hatred and activities for justified revolutionary /rebellious stance and when they themselves do not get divided on regionalism etc , when people realize that despite being a commoner they can reply – then the terrorists will have no other option than to change their course. In one psychological experiment and finding , when people are tortured, if one begs and whines, the torturer feels that the torture is justified and continues to torture assuming righteousness and the belief that the person being tortured is indeed a victim.  While if one faces it stoically and courageously , then the torturer does not attribute that much guilt to the person being tortured. Terrorists torture the common man and the state and want the state and the commoner to feel guilty for crimes uncommitted ( the thinking that ya the terrorists have a point, they are just fighting for their rights, and by denying them their land, we are guilty) and thus they feel justified in their hateful quest.  If the commoner on the other side does feel  guilty that they have committed crimes against the breed (a region/ a religion) that the terrorist belongs to , it is that much easier for a terrorists to justify in his mind that the commoner was indeed guilty and needs to be punished / tortured.  It is only by showing that we would never admit guilt which was never there in the first place (like the Kashmir issue) can we force the terrorists/torturer and the others who watch this drama (US/UN)  and make them realize that their terror/torture tactics re not going to work. We will not give them any leeway and let them get away with justified revolutionary terrorism. By being brave and standing up to them, we diminish their inclination to continue the torture and diminish their self-justifications. By cowering and whining or by being ‘reasonable/ politically correct’ and trying to see their point-of-view too, we will only make matters worse. So the best form of remembering, is by replying in a dramatic manner that shows that 1)we do not admit to their thesis that they have a slice of truth or justification for their actions 2) we are not cowed down by their torture and terror. We stand up and are brave enough to reply back (peacefully) 3) we stand united as humanity and as a civilization  and not as a mere nation in the fight against terrorism.

Out-of-the-brain musings: remembering when?

Typically one remembers such events when it is already too late and the event is almost there. Then there is no time to plan or celebrate (ya we should celebrate the triumph of Mumbai spirit  over the hatred and terror that the terrorist wanted to sow) . The aha moment was realizing that we should remember such event a bit early and perhaps celebrate(?) with full  planning and organization.  Replying on a Wednesday requires elaborate planning – and its our duty we cannot shy away from. So remember 26/11 now and decide what you are going to do that day now!

Parting thoughts: remembering whom?

Whom should we remember though? Is it Kasab and his fellow terrorists and their hateful and misled lives? Is it Osama bin laden , Dawood or Lashkara who’s who, who continue posing the threat to India? These are people who are alive and operational and we should remember about them -not for their ability to plan and execute- but just like we remember Rawan more than Ram on a Dusshehra -as a threat and reminder of what a misguided man can become and how the most important thing in the world is to burn the Rawans  within.  We should also remember those who are no longer there -some died in the course of their duty- others were misfortune victims and died unnecessary and meaningless deaths.  and of course we should remember the common man who did stand up to the terrorist and didn’t cower. That reminds me to tag Senha Gore – one of the organizers of candle-light vigils in the immediate aftermath of 26/11 and request her to organize one more such event this time around. Last time I was not aware and couldn’t participate; but this time I want to reply on a Thursday? What about you? Any creative thoughts on how we can reply on a Thursday?

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Published in: on November 1, 2009 at 7:33 am  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. sometimes while writing on sensitive issues it becomes difficult decipher whether the piece was written well or incident itself conjured up so much emotion…in your post I think it is a perfect balance.

    • Thanks gyanban; Its more of the emotion I guess. 26/11 conjured in each of us myriad emotions and showed us the depth of our emotions. you yourself sum up the mixed feelings on such anniversaries pretty well in the poem on your blog.


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