Is that even possible?Well, this is hypothetical, but it isn’t entirely impossible for anyone. I speak my mind. I live as I talk. No compromises other than those of lost freedom taking care of dependents. I influence people. I already have plenty of people thinking I should be punished for my views – which criticism ranges from too wimpish to anti-national for even thinking of humanity for bad people. Is it impossible I say something or endorse the right of some “enemy of the state” like activists or people who want self-determination for their land if that is what I believe? Not outside the realm of possibility. Sedition is punishable by death and demanding extreme punishment is fashion. Unlikely, but not impossible – for the purposes of this contemplation.
So say, one day cops came to arrest me. Cut forward to where I stood in front of a judge who would decide how I should be punished. What would I do?It is impossible to say how one clings to life in a real situation, but to my mind, I would not cling. I am a mother, blogger. A #prison is no place to bring up a disabled child, and I doubt they’d give me the internet. My family would be better off without being dragged into the mess and my child would be better off without me spending his inheritance on a futile case. I would most certainly encourage anyone who cared about me to spend their efforts on the kid instead of wasting their time and reputations banging their heads on a wall, and that what was worthy of remembering or loving about me is unlikely to be a battle I give up without even trying. At the moment, I don’t think I’d appeal any sentence against me unless it impacted more lives than mine. I have no interest in life unless I’m happy or fulfilling a responsibility I have to my child and I honestly don’t think I could be happy in a prison or that a child who doesn’t so much as know yelling, would be. True, I cannot imagine being without that cute appendage even in prison. Thus, I don’t see the point in resisting the death penalty to get a life penalty. What if the sentence were smaller? I’d serve it, try to get out how I could. Bail, shortened term for good behavior, whatever. Anything short of selling out my ethics in a way that harms others. I’m almost 40. Anything longer than a 10 year term, I’d probably incriminate myself to get the death penalty rather than endless prison.
What would I say in my defense?For someone normally so verbose, I imagine I’d be lost for words. I am not used to explaining myself, let alone defending myself. No, criticism of views or engagement with people without any authority over me does not count. Only thing I’d honestly have to say in my defense, is the only thing I ever had. I did what my ethics told me was the best with the information I had available. I do not believe in this current world of “good guys” and “bad guys”. I do not see the point in hatred, when it at best gains you the stress of a life of suspicion over fellow beings. I’d rather be gullible than jump at shadows and do another an injustice. I do not find a world where a majority of people are exploited so that a few guys at the top can thrive as useful to the vast majority of mankind. I don’t see even the supporters of a “winning” ideology thriving – religious/financial/national/communal…. The cannon fodder supporters will be the ones whose behavioral patterns will change till they lose any elegance or higher meaning or faculty to analyze own interest in a life of holding another’s goals their priority. They will be the ones living with paranoia at enemies they have been taught about, facing contempt for over reactions that they experience as necessary to their survival, going to prison, when the ugliness breaks through into irrevocable action. They will still not be the ones who will have power in their hands. The only power they will ever have is the power to bully those their masters tell them are not worthy of respect. Power over another person is a primitive aphrodisiac. Something a deep, unthinking part of our psyche interprets as victory; and thus survival.While it feels good, it has absolutely no enriching impact on life. Neither victim – who is actively harmed, nor victor – who gets a psychological reward for real actions with their own cost. No one can thrive unless they are able to coexist with differences. Where there are two people, there are differences. It would take a world with one person in it to be free of communal differences. And even if every minority, “sickular”, or whatever contempt-worthy thing could be exterminated, there would STILL be differences. An attitude of intolerance has no end. And I believe we are as culpable for things we allow with our silence, as we are for the things we do, so being silent is not an honest option for me. And I own my views and their consequences.
Would it be any use?I honestly don’t think it is possible to say anything and be heard if the system doesn’t want it said to your advantage. I also think any case that ends up in public sight, particularly on news and social #media, has a default tendency to be punished higher than the rest. I’d likely speak the truth or lie depending on whether I can get out early or whether I can provoke a death penalty instead of long prison term. I’d probably tell the judge this is his one moment of glory when the final judgment is in his/her hands and not some higher court on the ladder and to do himself proud – whatever his beliefs – left/right/law/etc. And then, I’d try my best to be happy and purposeful in prison regardless. No doubt this would involve smuggling blog posts and ground reports out on paper. Or I’d start believing in god and pray for dementia. Gallows humor apart, a part of me is distantly unsettled over how little I believe in the system doing what upholds an honor of a shared world and how pessimistic I am about engaging with the judicial system if money is a scarce resource and even views or association is stigma. As someone who does not really believe in punishment, let alone capital punishment, how extreme my preferences would be if faced with a loss of freedom. And I see the complications of my own views and the complete enslavement of public opinion toward revenge as #justice. Eye for an eye. Family, if not the kingpin. Another part of me wonders whether this precious freedom is outside prisons either, when so many of us merely live to survive? What is this freedom, really? Would solitary confinement be prison for me, a self declared hermit, if I had the internet, where I manifest my purpose? Does a free man really have freedom, as he toils under increasing debt or impossible work stress? The last lines of Richard Loveface’s poem come to mind.
Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage; Minds innocent and quiet take That for an hermitage; If I have freedom in my love And in my soul am free, Angels alone, that soar above, Enjoy such liberty.Is a compassionate world even possible, if we start from where we are today? Note: This is not a comment on our judicial system so much as on our society. I have no real experience of the judicial system and may end up dying of old age without ever acquiring it.
Founder at Aam Janata
Vidyut has a keen interest in mass psychology and using it as a lens to understand contemporary politics, social inequality and other dynamics of power within the country. She is also into Linux and internet applications and servers and has sees technology as an important area India lacks security in.
Latest posts by Vidyut (see all)
- Open letter to the Chief Justice of India - April 13, 2019
- Nationwide Protest by NREGA workers #NREGASangharshMorcha - March 2, 2019
- Repression of Activists cannot stop the second Kisan Long March - February 16, 2019