Just tell them they are wrong

Just tell them they are wrong
published: (updated: )
by Harshvardhan J. Pandit
article rant

I read a post by The Logical Indian on Facebook today. The post was about a women’s experience of the dual standards when it comes to patriotism and love for the country. On one side, a few people started a shouting match with a couple who sat through the national anthem. And on the other side, a few guys teased some girls shamelessly in public. All the people involved (except, perhaps the girls) had seen the Mary Kom movie at some time. The post was a reflection on how on one hand, patriotism made people feel insulted when someone refused to stand up for the national anthem, and on the other hand, some guys passed some really disrespectful comments towards some girls. The author of the post asks an important question – “Is patriotism only towards the flag and not the people the flag represents?”

Patriotism questions aside, I thought about what people could have done at that moment. There’s a chance than we may face a situation some day, where we’re bystanders in witnessing someone get insulted in such an antagonizing way. What can we do?

One option and perhaps the easiest to do, is to be a coward, ignore what is happening and let it continue. It will get resolved by itself, and you won’t have to be involved in any way.

Option Two is standing up, interfering, and stopping whatever is happening. Take a stand, make it stop. Only, this is the hardest, and the correct thing to do. Seeing someone stand up gives others the courage to openly support the right thing. But strangely enough, very few dare to do this.

Option Three is to tell them they are wrong. Just tell them, what they are doing is wrong, and to ask them to stop it. If you cannot fight, if you cannot stand up to them, if you don’t want to get involved, yet want to try and stop what is happening, just tell them they’re wrong. Most people will stop whatever they are doing and go away. Other might not. You don’t have to be aggressive, you don’t have to fight, get physical or berate them with swear words. You can sit where you are, just look straight at the person, and say that what they are doing is wrong, and would they please stop doing it. You’d be surprised at how people join you up, stand up for the right cause, and how the people doing these wrong things will stop. Sure, some people are too bloated with dirt to not stop, but that happens rarely.

Telling some to stop doing things triggers a guilt mechanism in people. They might not show it, or they might insult you, or they might argue. But somehow they do think about what you’ve just said. That what they are doing is wrong. And maybe, seeing you speak up, others might do the same too. Just be polite, don’t argue back, don’t fight, just remind them gently that what they’re doing is wrong.

Note : The issue of standing up for national anthem can be addressed through the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971. You can click on the link for a brief wikipedia article. Or try this link to Quora for a good answer. Also, a mention of something similar from TOI.

Note : The other issue, of whether “patriotism is only towards the flag and not the people the flag represents” is much more thoughtful. But I felt that I had to first pass on the message of “Just tell them they’re wrong“. By all means, do think about this issue as well.