Responses and Reactions

Do you know who Marina Abramovic is? Nope? Neither did I, until an article with disturbing images of a woman cropped up on my FB timeline.

I read the article. It showed a performance artist standing still for about 6 hours. This was a social experiment in which there was a table with 72 objects of pleasure and pain, open to the public. The experiment was conducted to show the swing of extremes in human nature, while men and women alike chose their objects for the ‘subject’. In the course of 6 hours that followed, the performance artist was made to sit, stand, be humiliated, pricked, cut, stripped, molested, groped and even, was subjected to a coup de grace stance!


After 6 hours, she walked towards the very people who did bad to horrible ‘things’ to her and, in return she received averted gazes. The perpetrators walked away from her as if, they momentarily had lapsed into an alternate world some time back and are not aware of what had happened. This show was termed as Rhythm 0 and, was orchestrated in the year 1974. And the lady who underwent the humiliating 6 hour ordeal was Marina Abramovic, a Yugoslavian performance artist. As an artist, she has touched the forbidden realms of art and, I salute her for such a performance. To even engage in an experiment as that requires some kind of unreal courage. Given her disturbed childhood and, her channelization of energies into the field of art, I get why she even chose the topic of human depravity.

But again, the experiment as per me, was a doctored reality. It was a staged experiment. Someone out there knew this was an experiment. Imagine the same scenario in real world. Which woman, pray tell will throw herself at a pack of wolves, willingly?

Now, almost 4 decades later, the article highlighting this disturbing social experiment was floating around like a recent happening. Someone has taken time to dig it out and, share! Well, we are living the technological dream and, everything is just available to everyone. So many articles, so much of information, so many versions of facts and, yet so many judgments! So yesterday when I had shared my resentment on why such kind of social experiments must not be shared in such a reckless fashion on social media, I found myself engaged in a very healthy discussion in which a couple of friends mentioned about why they should be. Yes, they had a point. We cannot un-see evil in the world. We cannot ignore the wicked ways of people and, pretend that all is well on God’s planet! I agree to that point. Only to that point. And, I agree to disagree on the way the information was being shared with the disturbing images.

While, we all reached a kind of truce on the importance of helping our children sense the kind of energies around them, I suddenly recalled an article I had written for a website on psychology, 6 years back. The article was on Determinism psychology that essentially states that the cause of events is a predetermined facet of time and that; we have little control over the triggers that initiate the chain reaction. However, this psychology also emphasizes on the kind of determining factors that govern the cause for the events such as,

  • Environment
  • Laws of nature
  • Human instincts and desires
  • Logical thought process
  • Genetic make
  • Fate

And then, there is free will psychology too wherein, the assumption for the study is – you always have the free will to decide what you want. And, you will be held accountable for your own actions. Now, this unlike the determinism psychology lets the concept of regret take form. Say, you missed a train for a meeting unusually makes you feel the regret that, you could have clearly avoided missing the train, had you reached the station on time. However, both psychologies have one thing in common and that is, the consequence of the action. Whether or not the cause is predetermined, whether or not the chain of events have already been charted, the consequence is a reality that has to be borne by the individual, good or bad. And that is the only thing that matters – The consequence. The end result. The dot effect!

So when Marina gave such a gut wrenching performance out of free will and, let herself be violated by the crowd that went from passive to active aggression, she gave out a message – Humans have a tendency to cause harm to their fellow beings if the subject is placed in a defenseless state. To an extent, I agree. That is what adults do when the propensity of their wickedness is unchecked.

However, this social experiment actually ended up generalizing an entire human race. Now, this is where I fiercely agree to disagree! Now, ask yourself a few questions, very simple ones!

  1. When you take a walk in your neighborhood and find a wounded pup in the middle of the road, what do you do?
  2. When a women laborer comes to your doorstep with a dirty bottle and asks you to fill it up with drinking water, what do you do?
  3. When you are returning back from your walk and, you see a teenager losing control over her bike and, she falls on the road, do you rush forward to help?
  4. When you buy something from a grocery store and, on your way back, see very small children selling pens and, asking you to buy them too, do you buy those pens?
  5. When summers arrive, do you mind keeping a few buckets of water in your backyard for animals, or small bowls of water for birds?

I will stop the questions here. If you even attempt rescuing the pup by removing it from the middle of the road, if you give water to the thirsty laborer, if you even attempt running towards that young girl who is wounded, if you even think about buying those pens and, if you do keep the water resources ready for the birds and animals, let’s say you just had that genuine thought……Dear friend, you are still a human with a good heart! The seed of goodness is still there. Humanity has not died yet.

My mother narrated to me an incident that happened during her teenage years. She has studied in a girls school through out. So, I had asked her if eve teasing was prevalent in those days too. It was then, she shared this incident –

“We were a group of 5 to 6 girls who went to school walking. Our uniform then, was a saree in a blue and white combination. So, every time we passed through a particular street, we could hear some boys singing a few romantic songs in the alley. Sometimes, they whistled too. But, we used to walk fast. There was absolutely no trouble beyond the usual singing and occasional whistling. And then, an incident happened.

One day while we were walking back, we heard a lot of commotion. A bull had gone rogue and, it was out on the streets, mad and running aimlessly. And, we froze at that second when the bull began heading towards us. The boys who whistled at us, sang songs while we passed the street jumped in the fray, held the bull by horns and said – “amma tayee….neengu aathu ku pongo….naanga pathukarom!” (meaning “Dear sisters, go home! We will take care of the bull!) That day, we realized how fast we could run. And, it was only after I reached home it dawned on me that I did not even look back once to see whether they were fine. The next day, on our way to school, we saw them, bandaged. But they were back to normal. They were back to singing and whistling. Only now, we knew that they did not mean what they were doing so aimlessly. We never spoke to them as usual.

Now, why I told you this incident is to let you know, that sometimes what seems to flow on the outside may not be the whole picture. We judge people too soon. There were umpteen occasions before that incident when the boys could have done something wrong. But they never did. Which meant, they did certain things out of fascination but never crossed over to engaging in unlawful actions.”

This conversation happened way back. But even at that time, it made me think about our perceptions of people around us. Until a few decades back, the world seemed bearable. Because, we did not really opine about everything. Sometimes, when things did not work in our favor, we did not create a ruckus. Sometimes, when things worked out beautifully, we just thanked our stars. However, today we have become slaves of social media. Every action, every thought and every perception is scrutinized. This is not freedom of speech. This is restriction of thoughts. Every opinion will have a million haters. Every dialogue will have a million followers. Every tweet will have a million trolls!

It is a wrong assumption that we are all fighting for freedom to speak. Actually, we have lost it. We are indeed abusing this freedom of sharing information in a very reckless manner, forgetting that the good deeds being done in the world, the good men working 24/7 for women empowerment, the good women trying to reach out into villages to transform them for good, are being ignored.

Disturbing realities are shared. I do not have an issue with that. Yes, we need to be aware of the harsh realities in this world. However, dissing the entire human race, men and women alike is fundamentally wrong. This world is made of all shades of characters. But remember, no human is born bad. Environment and social conditioning has everything to do with it! A majority of criminals (not all) come from a troubled background. The first time offenders with no criminal records may have had a very weak support system. Suffices to say, weak roots! That explains why there is always a trigger point in a crime. Somewhere, someone was not paying enough attention.

Talk about child abuse, it is by no means on a decline! This may not be a first time news but in many cases, some of the child abusers may have been abused as children themselves. Has portraying movies on rapes and murders helped? Pray tell, how much did the documentary – India’s daughters help in creating ‘awareness’? Rather, rapes and crimes against women have only increased steadily!

What surprises me is how the fact that disturbing images/videos will only have a far worse effect on demented minds, has been ignored. Rather, no one wants to discuss about it. Hours before the Nirbhaya rape happened, the perpetrators had been watching porn, is what some of the news channels said. The issue with our country then and now is, no one discusses the trigger points, the reasons, the cause. But, everyone enjoyed, cried, emptied buckets of tears discussing the gruesome manner in which the rape happened. Is that the solution?

Now, there can NEVER EVER be sympathy for any kind sexual abuse. Such broken individuals must be given the toughest punishment to send out a message, a strong message to the society. And that is what brings out the pertinent message – Broken adults cannot be repaired.

What Marina Abramovic had demonstrated in Rhythm 0 is that, evil breeds in cohesion. And, evil spreads faster than the good. As they say, engaging in sins is, by nature, an easier path than, abstaining from it. If you have watched the movie – The Devil’s Advocate, Al Pacino puts Lucifer’s point of view in a brutal fashion –

..let me give you
a little inside information about God.

God likes to watch.

He’s a prankster.

Think about it.

He gives man… instincts.
He gives you this extraordinary gift,
and then what does He do?

I swear, for his own amusement…
his own private, cosmic…gag reel…
…He sets the rules in opposition.

It’s the goof of all time.

Look, but don’t touch.
Touch, but don’t taste.
Taste, but don’t swallow.
And while you’re jumping from one foot
to the next, what is He doing?…..”

In the movie, Kevin the protagonist kills himself later understanding that shortcuts in life come at a price.

The very reason, God may have designed human in such a complex way is to perhaps test the strength of human minds. I have known men who despite having been surrounded by people with every bad habit, have stayed unscathed by their influence. I have also known women who have been extremely guarded about their beliefs and lifestyle, succumbing to the vices of life. So you see, it all comes down to how well connected you are with your own self. Because, if you are, the Devil will never approach you in the first place. The movie is a masterpiece and, the one message it gives loud and clear is –

The Devil comes to those who chase vanity. After all, “vanity is his favorite sin!”

Sometimes, it is not even about God or the Devil. They both have their roles to play. But many a time, it is about you and me, the humans. Our responses to incidents are conditioned by our reactions. Our reactions are molded by our thoughts. Our thoughts stem from the conditioning we have received in our childhood. Essentially, our own Karma is more or less a souvenir passed on to us through generations of upbringing. An honor killing in Haryana may not even seem to be a crime to the perpetrators because that is how they have been raised. It is unfortunate and sad. But, can you educate such adults? NO.

Sometimes, to spread awareness, we need good stories. We need stories of hope and faith. We need those stories where victims have turned into survivors. We need their stories to tell our children that even when the world treats you badly, you still can battle the demons and come out victorious. You can still reign supreme despite having seen the bad phases in life. Even when storms destroy our world, there is always the subsequent dawns that will help us build ourselves again! For raising strong children and, helping them become responsible adults, we need such stories, good stories! ONLY GOOD NEWS.

good news

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