Back to Our Primal Selves

By Chandrasen Yadav

It is a very unique time since world war II ended, in these 70 years there wasn’t a single conversation about survival—at least not in the upper and middle-class societies, as collectively as it has become. But here we are, suddenly it’s all about survival again, everything we have built as a collective society can’t help us in this grave of a time, we can’t do anything but hide behind the walls we have built from a microscopic parasite known as a virus. It’s no less than a world war, it’s just that we aren’t fighting each other, but fighting an alien body.

As we care about survival, not only the cities and countries are on lockdown but suddenly our minds too seem like, is on a mild lockdown. I feel this is a time where we can see our primal instincts on the surface, we can see how we humans, can do anything to survive, even at the cost of others. But that’s not completely true, you would say, people are helping each other, Doctors are on the line, exposing their own life for others, and I am not denying it, that the civilization we have built is all about leaving behind our primal instincts and take care of each other. However, even among all of this, we often hear the phrase ‘Survival of the fittest’, and if it’s being said in the sense Darwin had said, then we should just expose everyone and let the immunity decide the future, but we aren’t doing this right? So, why are we still hung on the idea of ‘Survival of the fittest’. And I know that it’s not a deliberate thing, it’s a way of naturally selecting the healthiest and leaving behind those who are not, but I feel this idea shouldn’t be thrown at random when all we are doing is trying to defy it.

Going back to the idea of how our minds seem like on lockdown too, I can see a sudden spike of xenophobia, all around the world, the intensity of group identity being increased exponentially, the way that we as a collective society is reacting to the situation is exposing our very instincts which were suppressed in a normal situation. And this is where we can see, how prejudiced we are against each other when on the other hand we take pride in our diversity like no other country.

Since a particular incident happened, in Nizamuddin, Islamophobia in this country took a new turn, and it is for the worst because no matter what the reason we are fueling ourselves with more prejudice and nothing else. It’s more about the outlook towards the faith than the faith itself; it’s more about the perception of science and reason in the individuals of that faith, than the faith itself; it’s more about the overall treatment of the situation than the situation itself. I can’t deny the fact that what happened wasn’t the right thing, but the way that this country reacts is like an authoritative parent reacts to a rebel child, and we all know how that child’s counter reaction would be, it would never be on the right side. So, if that outrage wasn’t right, one would ask, what would be the right way? I don’t know, maybe nobody knows, but from all these years we do know that this reaction isn’t helping and just bashing a faith is only going to strengthen their group identity as well, as much as you take pride in that process.

If we look at every faith in this country, each one is as irrational as others, we do bash how cow dung couldn’t be the medicine for every disease out there, we all feel making statues of mythological characters is just a waste of money; in the name of religion there is too much going on in this country to keep track on, but whenever something happens in the name of Islam, we always have a different outlook towards it, and most of the times it’s nothing to do with the intensity of the situation itself, it’s more about how are we conditioned to think the way we do, how we tend to ignore the base rate information of other faiths and focus on this one in isolation and that’s a grave bias, which can only lead to negative stereotyping and prejudice. The fact that we as a country don’t care about introspection, individual identity, we tend to take part in a conversation just to belong, is not solving the problem but contributing to it.

And as we steer our view to other issues, we can see how citizens from Northeast are being mocked for their appearance, since a very long time though, but nowadays because of the origin of the virus being China, they are being mocked for having the same oriental look that they have. It’s generally a big issue, and the fact that we did nothing about it, it’s snowballed into this issue that we are facing today.

Until we all, don’t educate ourselves in the diverse fields of knowledge, start introspecting a little, check on our own biases and stop trusting on our instincts and the system of automatic thinking, what we can do today at this time at least, is to just stop jumping into conclusions, stop contributing to the conversations about which we have no idea of, stop making judgments easily, stop brewing hate just to make you feel better; stop being primal, again.

About the Author: 

Chandrasen Yadav is pursuing Masters of Science in Psychology at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, he has a background in Computer Science and Engineering. He is an avid reader, observer of current social and technological trends with interest in writing on diverse topics.

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