Violence was lurking close to murdered techie Swathi

Candle March

A strong mind and strong emotional skill-sets are needed to deal with strong emotions. Anger, hurt, despair and love are some of strongest emotions a human brain experiences. Another important characteristic of a strong emotion is the illusion of certainty. It makes us feel that things are “definitely a certain way,” regardless of the facts surrounding any particular situation in which the emotion has been invoked under. For example, when we are intensely angry with someone, we are convinced that he or she has definitely done something wrong and especially against what we value, and also against ourselves.

Quite similarly, intense romantic attraction can also convince us of all sorts of falsehoods; “we are made for each other only,” “this is the one and only person for me,” “she/he loves me too,” “If I am not loved by this person then I am not lovable,” to name a few of many.

Fortunately, and unfortunately, ideas have consequences. If you hold realistic and rational ideas, chances are that you are living a relatively balanced emotional life.

S. Swathi a software engineer from Chennai, became a victim of such a crime that was motivated with ‘love-hatred’; a dangerous combination of emotions experienced intensely by an unstable and untrained mind like that of 22-year-old Ramkumar. Essentially what it sounds like is this: ‘You deserve happiness only when you are with me or do as I tell you to, otherwise I might as well see you being painfully destroyed.’

Related reading: My flawed concept of ‘The One’

News channels report that ‘Ram Kumar was mentally unstable and was pursuing the 24-year-old Infosys techie for quite some time. He was reportedly angered when Swathi rejected his advances and thereafter hacked her to death using a sickle (sharp metal object) on June 24 in a fit of rage.’ Another report stated that one of her family members confirmed that Swathi had confided that she was being troubled by one of her friends “who was constantly troubling her over marriage.”

While Ramkumar’s alleged mental illness had a part to play, what the case also raises questions on, is a sense of entitlement, most of the men are brought up with, in most parts of the world, which is painfully contrasted with lower levels of confidence, which is almost intentionally cultivated in girls.

There has been a rise in acid attacks, rapes and other crimes against women, of which an overwhelming majority are committed by men. Poor emotional and sexual education combined with a sense of superiority over women, is a dangerous combination and has turned out to be dangerous for women, indeed – for they are often at the receiving end.

Today I wonder, who is interested in teaching us these ideas about love and sexuality? These ideas are very context specific and definitely not innate in our natures. We are stuck between media and general social discourse that gives love a hyper-romantic, steroid-fuelled and mostly irrational view of romance. On the other hand, parents and the education system trivialise the whole situation and encourage ignorance. The product is what we see in many documented and undocumented cases of crimes of passion.

There are very few short-term social solutions that one can think of. Hopefully, the media will become a bit more responsible in holding up real and rational virtues when it comes to intricate and real topics such as love and romance.

The only solution that sounds promising, even though it is a long term one, is education. Education about mental illnesses, education about cyber bullying, education about emotionally safe romance, may be our last hope to develop a strong mind and deal with one’s emotional landscape.

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