Mind Over Matter

I have constantly been told by several members of society to join self-defence lessons in case of horrible instances such as robbery, rape, kidnapping, and abuse. Although I’m aware that the people who tell me to do this only mean it for my own safety and well-being, it troubles me to think that society focuses on imposing defensive methods on victims, rather than collectively teaching everyone not to perform such horrible acts. Why are we always telling others to be safe, and not teaching them to not commit crimes? It seems to me as if it is easier for people to simply hand out safety guidelines rather than undertake the task of providing moral education. Isn’t investing time and energy into training innocent people to be protected from criminals just as important as investing the same into guiding everyone morally to reduce crime rates?

I’ve been passionate about this issue since December 16, 2012. On that particular day, there were headlines in the city of New Delhi regarding the gang rape of a female college student who was riding a bus. Her organs were ripped out during the rape, an iron rod was stuck inside her body, and after being sexually assaulted, she was thrown off of the bus onto the street, completely naked, helpless, and unconscious. The people who raped her also ripped her dignity into shreds. This incident generated a lot of controversy on local news channels, and I clearly remember hearing things that made me question the harsh mentality engrained into some human beings. I couldn’t comprehend why some people argued that if the girl had not been out so late at night, she would not have been raped. Others argued that if the girl hadn’t been on an empty looking bus, she would have had a better fate. My thirteen-year-old self did not understand why these people were blaming the woman when nothing she went through was her own fault. In my mind, I could not rationalize why certain individuals, instead of blaming the true culprits, the rapists, believed that the girl should have taken precautions for herself to be “safe.”

This experience aroused an ethical dilemma that still resides within me. I believe that everyone, regardless of gender, has the right to live safely, without worrying about being sexually assaulted. As I mentioned earlier, society focuses on imposing defensive methods on victims, rather than collectively teaching everyone not to commit crime. Simply promoting self-defence does not reduce crime rate. However, investing resources into raising awareness about good morals is what can truly make a difference in society. Activists say that education is key to skew the masses towards progressive change; however, most people tend to overlook the fact that developing good morals through education is just as important as academic education. Without knowing the difference between socially respectful and socially disrespectful behavior, and without having simple core values such as tolerance, and open-mindedness, anyone can be subject to criminality in their future. It may be impossible to achieve a utopian society, where no one has a criminal mindset, but it is possible to significantly reduce them in numbers.

A mind can always control a matter.