While travelling by train last week from Ernakulam to Bangalore, a young boy sitting next to me reading something on his kindle paused, looked out and asked me a question with genuine concern: “Sir, why do we see so much of violence in our society especially against women? For example, a spurned lover attacks the girl , attemps to kill her, throws acid on her etc. How can we find a solution to this dangerous problem of increasing violence and impatience?” I asked him, “We format our computer, our electronic gadgets. But do we ever do that with our mind? There are many unwanted and outdated files occupying the space within.” His eyes couldn’t conceal the sudden flicker of surprise. I shared the following with him.

The first and foremost thing to understand is the centre of identity within us from where we react to situations, remarks and people. How is that identity constructed? The so called Male Ego has been constructed by stereotypes about the Other and it is very difficult for a person to see this unless he is genuinely ready for introspection. He has been repeatedly told that he is superior and this has created a rigid, false ego in him which has become his identity. “I, a Man, should not fail” is a deeply imprinted thought which has become the reason for most of the miseries in life. He has built a belief system (or the belief system has built him) where he feels he shouldn’t fail before the Other. At home, from childhood on wards, he listens to instructions from elders restricting girls. He develops an image of Her as an inferior creation at the mercy of men. You see, a criminal, to some extent, is the product of a system that has wrongly constructed him though that doesn’t justify him or his act. The question we need to ask and address is how do we demolish this Construct and reconstruct ourselves?

We have been fed by Success stories and Failure is considered an insult to the ego. I would say, Learn to fail. Let that false ego get punctured. Learn to accept failure with grace, learn to get betrayed and refused. Learn to forgive those who hurt you, learn to say ‘sorry’ if you hurt others and cultivate compassion. We are constantly trying to create a society of information and knowledge. In my opinion, knowledge without compassion is violence. Our educational institutions and parents can play a great role in creating this awareness. From childhood itself, an atmosphere of mutual respect and shared responsibility should be created at home. The domestic space should be absolutely free from discrimination and gender bias. Our school curriculum can have activities and chapters that can create awareness about the need to share responsibilities. When a girl is respected at home, she will surely be respected everywhere. No one will feel shocked or threatened when a girl/woman is found to be independent in her private and public life. Most violence is the outcome of our inability to change our own belief system. The more rigid we become in our conclusions and perceptions about others, the more difficult it is for us to adapt to changes. When a girl says NO to a boy, he should respect it as her right and learn to respect her choice. A committed Reprogramming is badly needed in our psyche. Break away from the stereotypes within and we can surely create a better society of empathy, respect and grace. So, be vigilant and scrupulous in reconstructing yourself from within, liberating yourself from the patriarchal patterns within. The journey is not going to be quite easy but you will discover something incredibly beautiful about life and people. If you find time for work out at health clubs, please do find some time for a Mental Health work out too. Life shouldn’t be all about six packs and biceps, it should be more about the making of a mind with no toxins of prejudices and violence.

By Santhosh Kana