Silent Majority

First they came for the Muslims, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Pakistani.

Then they came for the women, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Feminist.

Then they came for the Adivasis, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Naxalite.

Then they came for the Dalits, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not an Ambedkarite.

Then they came for the rationalists, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the farmers, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Gandhian.

Then they came for the beef-eaters, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Sickular.

Then they came for the historians, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not an Intellectual.

Then they came for the filmmakers, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a starving Artist.

They are coming after the working class, dividing us up, every single day –
And I know I will not speak out still –
Because I am not really a revolutionary.

– Saswat Pattanayak, Peoples’ Poet, 2015

(My reflection above is inspired by the famous poem by Martin Niemoeller who was an outspoken critic of the Nazis. The idea is to convey that one Hitler or one Modi is not responsible for the mayhems in any society. They are accomplished with the tacit support of the otherwise decent people who choose to remain silent while oppressive policies continue against “other” groups to which they immediately do not identify with. In Indian context, too many of us have remained silent throughout as state machinery and hindu nationalists have continued to target various marginalized groups. And it will not be far when those of us who have been thus far spared of the wrath have to also pay the price for maintaining stoic silence. Revolutionaries do not remain silent at atrocities – they have always spoken up and chosen sides and vocally articulated their position. And the circumstances to produce revolutionaries are not ordained by divine orders. They are for us to realize. Each of us has the ability to speak up, to protest. Let us not wait for an opportune time guided by just our own interests.)

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