After reading recent reports on several demonstrations in India, I came to the conclusion that some people prefer to demonstrate rather than to debate the issue in the media, in the legislature, in parliament, or in the courts. That is how it should be done in a civilized society. 

There is a high price to be paid for demonstrating. A mob made up of demonstrators, according to psychologists, has the mentality of a five-year-old. Things tend to get out of control. Egregious sloganeering starts. Stone throwers join in; tires, cars, buses are set on fire. Public property is destroyed. Such things once happened in San Francisco when the fans of a winning football team, in order to celebrate, took out a spontaneous procession on Market Street and smashed the windows of the shops on the sides of the street. For no reason at all. 

Inevitably, after a demonstration starts, the police arrive. A confrontation starts between the mob and the police and people get injured or killed. ‘Tu tu main main’ debates start showing up on the electronic media. Some media prefer to selectively show the ‘tu tu main main’ debates; perhaps there is more profit in it. Someone like me watching the whole thing from a distance of thousands of miles wonders what is happening; who, why, or what started it, or whether it was necessary to start it at all.

If you want to be a wise person, here is my advice. Don't participate in demonstrations. Stay home. Use your pen or computer and write letters to the appropriate organization. You also have access to social media; unfortunately, the social media doesn’t have the know-how nor the motivation to separate fact from fiction. Acting on information appearing in the social media is highly risky; that information is likely to be inaccurate, biased, or downright fake.

Stay home, think like a grown-up, and write the way I am writing just now.

Amrit Lall

Brisbane, Calif.

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