I binge-watched the second season of The Family Man (TFM) 2 last night. I was eagerly waiting for this season of TFM for a long time, especially after the highly gripping season 1. And I am not disappointed. While I watch digital content very selectively (young-adult fantasy depicting a dark and mid-age Europe and Russia and spy-genre Indian shows for occasional patriotic doses), very few shows have such excellent cinematography. It is the plot of TFM2 that made me ask some questions myself. While I don’t have clear answers to them yet, I thought I will just list them down, along with some of my raw thoughts.
The plot is about the resistance of Eelam Tamils of Sri Lanka against the Sri Lankan government. The topic is riddled with complex matters of morality, humanity, human rights, ethnicity, language, majority-minority conflicts, and the right to self-governance. Sri Lankan conflict is familiar to most Indians because of India’s involvement in the struggle in the early 1980s and 90s and the subsequent assassination of Rajiv Gandhi during an election campaign in Chennai. Many such issues are spread throughout the world — e.g., Israel-Palestine conflict, Rohingya issue in Myanmar, Nagaland in India. Specific questions that perplex me about these conflicts are -
- Why do people fight for their ethnicity? How difficult is it to live alongside other people under a defined constitution prepared with a mutual agreement?
- Why are modern nation-states reluctant to give autonomy or independence to such groups just to avoid bloodshed?
- What are the causes of the origins of such conflicts?
- Are there any examples where the final settlement was acceptable to both sides, and nobody left the table feeling betrayed?
I look for academic (Sociology, Anthropology, and Political Science, to be precise) answers to these questions. I understand that ground realities are often very different than what we learn from news media and books. Humans tend to have a natural connection to their perceived kinsmen. Why do you think nature has decided to keep a human baby dependent on her parents for almost 1/4th of her average lifetime? The bond we generate with our society, tribe, kin, and family stays with us forever, and we strive to keep them safe and secure at any cost.
I will give a controversial example - the Indian freedom struggle is a revered movement for most Indians, including myself. Still, for the then British rulers, it was a rebellion that had to be suppressed at any cost to save their empire. We despise the atrocities performed by the British on Indian people. How is that different from the horrors seen in the conflicts of the modern world (not just the people in power, rebels everywhere have also committed unspeakable atrocities). As I understand it, it is not a binary problem; there is no black and white in this. There are shades of grey and what amount of black you see depends on a lot of factors. Just be aware of the fact that the more powerful side need not be the necessary evil. Resolving any conflict requires some compromises from both sides. Until both sides are leaving the table feeling that they won, no negotiation will be successful. Remember -
We cannot negotiate with people who say what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable.