On Inequality

Inequality is an unavoidable consequence of human society. One section of society shall always be more advantaged than the other. This does not justify inequality, but rather, provides one with a starting point to arrive at the best method to combat it.

Inequality may reveal itself in a host of forms in multiple domains of human existence, but there is only one form which forms the bedrock of all of these. Before identifying it, one should ponder further on the foundation of human progress, which is inevitably tied to bridging the gap between the powerful and the powerless, since it is always upliftment of society as a whole that results in diminishing inequity.

The capacity to self-consciously reason and logically arrive at conclusions from widely accepted postulates, or rules, is the only characteristic evidently unique to humans. Invariably, it is this capacity that leads to all of human progress and equity. But at the same time, this capacity has to be exercised in a decidedly iniquitous atmosphere, which forces us to return to that one fundamental form of inequality – the unfair balance in scales appropriated to the advantaged and the disadvantaged in terms of rational speech and access to appropriate listeners.

Given that rational thought needs to be exercised for human progress and also that progress leads to greater equality (regardless of how disproportionate its rate of achievement is to the rate of progress), a fair opportunity to the exercise of the dialectical method is superlative and hence is the first inequality that must be resolved.

At this point, it is important to recognize that given a fair debating ground, it is theoretically possible to alleviate all disadvantages using just the power to logically convince those in power that only equality can assure a stable society. Further, only a rationally sound argument can ensure that this environment is propagated uninterrupted. To arrive at this conclusion, introspection on the decay of civilizations is key.

The downfall of civilizations is contingent upon one section of society revolting against the other. These revolts may be caused by various factors, but a society without discord cannot break down. One group of people must engage in targeted destructive action, for which the reason is always some form of iniquity. On the other hand, an equitable society has no internal tensions and as a consequence, safe from internal breakdown. Once it is understood that a breakdown in social order disaffects everyone, powerful or not, it is logically evident that a stable, equitable society is in everybody’s interest.

Now, we’ve proven that fair access to exercise of rational discourse is paramount, but it is eminently clear that this need not be ensured in any society. Further, we have not yet proven that only the exercise of rational discourse can maintain its own possibility.

First, the achievement of a fair opportunity to debate should be pondered upon, following which the necessity and sufficiency of this opportunity to sustain itself shall become clear. Whenever the possibility of rational discussion is denied, disruptive action must prevail. This is because humans have only two tools of winning over others of their species at their disposal – by reason or by force – and forceful acquisition automatically sets in when reasoning is impossible. This means that targeted revolt is the only method available to the disadvantaged in order to achieve a fair opportunity at rational discourse.

It is logical to ask, at this point, why the same method of force should not be sufficient to achieve a stable state of equality in all other cases of inequality. For one, the use of force rarely results in an absolute equilibrium. Power keeps changing hands, without respite for those temporarily powerless. This is applicable for equality achieved by means of reason as well, but as long as dialogue is allowed, the disadvantaged have the option of seeking redressal using dialogue. But as soon as the option of dialogue is lost, the use of force to regain it is inevitable. In this manner, a system where force is used only as an instrument to establish a stable means of redressal for all inequalities can be established, and safely claimed to be the best possible under a wide variety of circumstances.

Of course, as always, there are a few caveats. What if dialogue cannot be achieved, regardless of how much force is employed? Moreover, it was assumed earlier, when the fall of civilizations was analysed, that two unequal sections will exist throughout. In some cases, circumstances will take a different turn – the disadvantaged cannot achieve dialogue and both sections will employ force throughout, in which case the only outcome where the civilization still stands is when one of these is completely annihilated, since this would ensure the society consists of only one section which is composed of equals. Since murder must be abhorred irrespective of circumstances, this shall be the worst possible outcome and must be avoided at all costs.

Being Agnostic in a Religious Nation

This is an article I wrote for my school magazine in high school. It invariably suffered rejection for heresy, at the hands of the School Magazine Board, despite me being the Editor then.

To be agnostic in India is like being a Jew in Nazi Germany – you’re just not supposed to exist! People tear at you like wolves on a hunt if you even dare mention that your religious beliefs do not lie on either side of the river. Forgive me my exaggerated imageries, but my experiences implore me to present such a picture.

To all those who have been fortunate enough not to have heard about agnostics – it is a state of utter religious confusion. The mind of an agnostic honeymoons in no man’s land, unsure whether to give in to religious clamour, or to join the ‘blasphemous’ atheists. In India, a believer always finds refuge and so does an atheist, who finds political asylum in communism, but what about the man footed at both gates? There is no escape for him – he is always under pressure to join one or the other to gain acceptance among the ‘normal’ society. Yet, one wonders how society calls itself normal. Is it just because they can identify with a common cause?

As an agnostic, I always tend to play the devil’s advocate, proposing counter-arguments whenever I find someone who is staunchly on one side of the religious street. Due to the fact that I meet a (much) higher number of believers than not, I tend to weigh a little more heavily on the atheist side. But am I worse off than those who have already crossed over?

Is it true that a believer (or a non-believer) is much better off than an agnostic because he has chosen his side? To me, many of these people seem to have unthinkingly taken the plunge, like a Hindu boy, who cannot kill a cow (as the creature is deemed ‘holy’) but can butcher Muslims in riots, or murder his own sister for having married outside their caste. Does religion give him the right to scar humanity? Others take up the cause due to relentless brainwashing, like the Muslim who kneels before the almighty, but makes thousands of innocents kneel in front of the whole world, so that he can spread ‘jihad’, taught to him by loony fanatics. Does the almighty give him the right to instil fear without even understanding his own cause? Still more hypocritical is the Christian clergyman, who advocates celibacy, and yet practices paedophilia without any regret whatsoever. Also, he refuses to accept science or logic, and caused the darkest centuries in mankind’s history and still continues to torment the spirit of free enquiry. Where does God stand for all the victims of this religious sacriligion?

Or is it that an atheist stands on a higher pedestal? He, who openly denounces the presence of God but secretly prays to the heavens when he or his family is taken ill – does he stand on tougher moral ground? Or is it that he, who needs to take out the frustration of his own shortcomings on society, gets to preach non-religion? Is it not that the pretence of opposing religion actually gives him something to be noted for, and thus fulfil a need to be important?

These questions are just a small part of the colossal number of enquiries an agnostic carries with him. Religion always seems to have more demented and inhumane followers than the dedicated and civilized ones and so is the atheistic world full of pathetic and flawed personalities grappling with the very demons they wanted to exorcise. Then where does a sane man stand?

He stands on the invisible and agnostic third side – attending to the call of humanity. As believers and atheists slug it out, I believe that the real trials lie on the face of this earth, and it would be much wiser if we focused on being human, rather than holy. Religion can always be treated as a sub-topic to humanity – humans must be higher than the concept of God. As to the question of whether to be a believer, atheistic or maybe turn agnostic, I refuse to recommend a side. It’s your choice – you decide.