Today, I had a conversation with the venerable @cgawker, who is venerable because he wears a tie and a turban, and more importantly, is Caucasian and therefore never has to use Fair’n’Lovely during his lifetime.
He wondered why the world looks at America as the role model for global outrage, and not in the sense that people around the world outrage at their tendency to drop bombs like Indian cows drop dung, with casual aplomb. It is the fact that Americans are professional outragers that was in question here. How do they slickly and consistently outrage over abortion, PETA, Paris Hilton and Marilyn Manson while we, the nation that invented every English word that is prefixed with “out”, languish at the bottom of the Outrage charts.
It got me thinking and it struck me that the problem is our heritage. The Manusmriti asks us to outrage over the slightest violation of custom with punishments like pouring molten lead down violators’ throats. Then comes along the Upanishads that ask us to chill the fuck down because everything in the cosmos is actually this hot girl named Maya and therefore let’s all simply gawk and not beat each other up. If you thought that was the final word, think again, because the Ramayana comes along and tells us that the appropriate response to a bon-vivant, ten-headed Veena rocker dude inviting someone’s wife for a spot of tea in Lanka is nuclear war (Brahmastra #youremember) featuring an simian army. Then comes the Mahabharatha that tells us to chill out till Krishna puts on some Godzilla level special effects and commands us to blow the opposition away over some minor property disputes and a bit of eve-teasing. As if myth wasn’t heightening our dilemma enough, history comes along and relieves myth like in a WWE tag team match. Buddha tells us to calm down, but question everything. He asks us to be in a state of equanimity, but at the same time ill-treat women because they are the root of all that is not, um, equanimitous? Mahavira arrives on the scene and preaches non-violence to everything except one’s stomach, which is to be abused thrice daily with Jain food. Ashoka indulges himself to a bit of genocide and then suddenly turns all pacifist.
And the RSS puts bullets in old Gujrati gentlemen while swearing by “Om Shanthi Shanthi Shanthihi”
So as you can see, if we were all Hamlets asking the question,
To outrage, or not to outrage, that is the question:
Whether ‘this nobler in the mind to suffer
the Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Bloggers
or to take Arms against a Sea of Troublemakers
Our holy books are essentially telling us
Chart credits: The even more venerable @shenoyn
Americans, on the other hand, have much more clarity in their messaging. Outrage first, think later. That’s why they are much better