This happened near my house, barely a week ago. Ours is a small residential group with decent 3-bedroom apartments in 3-storeyed buildings. Each apartment is an independent unit and the owners are members of a ‘civil’. Which means what?… Actually, nothing… considering what happened last week.
A security guard, who was winding up his night shift, was asked by a neighbour to shoo away a stray dog from the vicinity. This dog is actually a nuisance even though it doesn’t bite. It just appropriates the landings of the buildings and threatens and gnarls at the occupants. Ours is an area that is highly populated with young children and this becomes a threatening situation.
Coming back to the security guard, the dog in question ran and hid in the front lawn of another neighbour. The valiant guard entered the lawn to shoo away the animal… and, out came the owner, with his almost 20-year old son and wife. Plenty of shouting, decorated with the choicest of abuses, attracted the attention of others… including me.
I went out to see what had happened, and this is what I saw … the son of this most illustrious neighbour (who is an NRI and considers himself superior to humble non-NRIs like us) was yelling at the top of his voice, hurling abuses at someone. (This is an even greater threat to our youngsters. Apart from a possible dog-bite, these tender souls are exposed to bad language, and perhaps even gestures.) Presently, this someone came out of the premises of the house with his hand clutched to his mouth… and blood flowing freely through his fingers.
I was told by the guard that one of them hit him hard on the face. Indeed he (the guard) had a very nasty cut on his lip and he was bleeding profusely. I couldn’t understand whether it was the father or the son… it doesn’t make much difference anyway because both of them are foul-mouthed and violent. This poor man was told very sternly that that stray dog was theirs and that he had no right to hit it or shoo it away.
So much for the ‘civil society’!
I took it with a pinch of salt and decided to report it to the forum of our resident welfare association. “My contention is – A man, who is responsible for our security, is treated in such a terrible way. Why? Did he steal? Did he break someone’s property/car/any other asset? No. He was shooing away a stray dog. In his little way, HE WAS doing his duty. And, how is he rewarded for that?” – This is what I wrote in my communication.
The first response I got was “Shocking and condemnable. Can’t believe this happened in a society that claims to be of educated and civilised people. Whatever the provocation, one has no right to hit anybody physically or abuse. If someone had made any mistake or committed a crime, the law enforcement authorities should have been informed.”
I heaved a sigh of relief. Civility did exist after all, I thought… but not for long. Pat came a reply of another resident – “This is not the fault of the Resident/Person. These type of persons are everywhere in the world, but there are laws to deal with these type of persons and one should go as per laws.” Yet another gem came from an office holder of the RWA – “I am surprised security agency is sitting quite. If they cannot protect their own people how would they protect residents?”… Now, how civil is that?
This got me thinking and this is the conclusion I came to – We are a ‘civil society’ as long as it serves our purpose. Only WE deserve to live with dignity; only WE are to be respected; only WE have a right to say (and do) what we feel right. When it comes to others… well, they can just go take a hike. Even more so if that other is a mere security guard (or a domestic help, for that matter)! We expect him (them) to be loyal to us in every which way he can… but, when it comes to him… well, he is lower than a lesser human being… things like respect and dignity are not for him.
If this is ‘civil society’, I refuse to be a part of it. I would much rather be uncouth and show respect to one and all. I would much rather be uncivil and try to instil a sense of dignity in everyone. I would much rather be unmannerly and consider everyone, each one of us, equal – for we are, considering we are all human beings, first and foremost. I would much rather be indignant at such behaviour…
The simplest meaning of the word ‘civil’ is polite and courteous. I prefer to be that, no matter what it would make me in this SO CALLED ‘civil society’!
This article was originally published at http://www.speakingtree.in/blog/how-civil-is-the-civil-society