Maria Wirth is a German and came to India for a holiday after finishing her psychology studies at Hamburg University. She visited the Ardha Kumbha Mela in Haridwar in April 1980 where she met Sri Anandamayi Ma and Devaraha Baba, two renowned saints. With their blessing she continued to live in India and dived into India’s spiritual tradition, sharing her insights with German readers through articles and books. For long, she was convinced that every Indian knows and treasures his great heritage. However, when in recent years, she noticed that there seemed to be a concerted effort to prevent Indians (and the world) from knowing how valuable this ancient Indian heritage is, she started to point out the unique value of Indian tradition.
Some years ago, on a visit to Germany, I met with a few friends from primary school times. Two of them I hadn’t seen for over 50 years, but we were quickly familiar again after we got used to our new (elderly) look. The conversation veered to the Turks in town, around 600 of the overall 6000 inhabitants. “Most of them are not integrating into our society and some buy up houses right in the centre of the town”, a former classmate said.
I mentioned that I have become very wary of pious Muslims ever since I read the Quran. Those who believe in earnest what is written there will never see non-Muslims as equals. They are simply not allowed to. They will have to strive to gain majority wherever they live and then bully us others into submission, if we are lucky not to be killed.
There was silence for a while. Then one friend, a confident, feisty woman, said: “Maria, I think like you do. But I wouldn’t have dared to say what you just said.”
Her comment brought home the power of mass media. For decades ‘political correctness’ has been drummed into us all over the world and many have internalized what they are supposed to say and what not. And maybe we did not even notice that we have voluntarily surrendered the right to free speech which is considered one of the greatest plus points of modern democracies.
It is even worse and more complicated. The right to free speech is there, but the right to speak the truth is under threat. The right to free speech even allows expressing offense and falsehood provided it is aimed at the ‘politically correct’ groups of people. In such cases, free speech is often amplified because mainstream media will gladly broadcast it all over the world.
An example was the false accusation that ‘Hindu extremists’ were behind the gang rape of a nun. Hindus were not given a hearing. They were shouted down in TV studios by Christian representatives and left-liberals. A Bishop and Vatican Radio also went ahead blaming Hindus without any proof. When the Bangladeshi Muslim culprits were caught, the damage to the image of Hindus was done and it was not corrected. No case of hate speech was slapped on those Christian representatives. Not even an apology was made.
Who can be freely attacked and who not is one of the incomprehensible features of political correctness. In spite of the fact that Hindus were victims under Muslim and British rule for centuries with millions of them having been killed; in spite of the fact that Hindus never went on the offensive in the name of their gods, they and their tradition are today fair game for verbal attacks which could be termed as hate speech but is hardly ever persecuted as such. The same seems to apply for Jews. Anti-Semitism is again on the rise in the west and not only among the Muslim population there. It is prominent in universities and hidden in mainstream media.
In contrast, Muslims and Islam are generally exempted from verbal attacks in spite of the fact that mainly Muslim boys become terrorists and in spite of the fact that over the past 1400 years, Muslims were more often aggressors, not victims. The reason is that the motto “Islam is a religion of peace” is the politically correct view and cases of ‘hate speech’ are slapped quickly on those who say otherwise. However there is no further debate on why or whether Islam is indeed a religion of peace except for general claims that Islam exhorts its followers to be good human beings.
In a balanced debate it would become clear that Hindu Dharma (the open-minded, tolerant Hinduism does not deserve an ‘–ism’ as postfix) is a better option for a harmonious, peaceful living together of people of diverse natures, because Islam and Christianity require first all to convert and profess belief in their fixed, yet unproven doctrines before homogenous ‘peace’ can be established. Diversity of opinion is not allowed.
Yet this balanced, unbiased debate never happens. It is studiously avoided. Instead, those who stand up for Hindu Dharma are vilified as ‘Hindu fundamentalists’ and those who stand up for Islam or Christianity are paraded all over the news channels as persons of the ‘correct’ insight. Do you hear in public discourse that “Hinduism is a religion of peace”? You may have never heard it. And if you say it privately, politically correct persons will immediately remind you of the ‘atrocious caste system’.
How have we reached such a state where we cannot have a meaningful debate on what is true any longer? Has truth been thrown out of the window? It almost seems like that. I realized only recently that the ‘correct’ line is now apparently that there is no truth as such. Rather, there are so many truths. Whatever somebody thinks is his truth.
A German friend said exactly this, when I mentioned that it is a sad state of affairs that nowadays it needs courage to speak the truth, especially when it comes to Islam. “There is no truth as such”, he replied. I was taken aback. If truth is not taken any longer as the guiding star, we can as well pack up and stop living.
I tried to make my friend see that though the absolute Truth (that what truly is) cannot be put into words, it nevertheless is present. On another, lower level, a lie is definitely not the truth, even if somebody believes in it. Steadfastly ignoring certain important facts to create a different perception of an issue is also dishonest and akin to a lie. “Satyam vada, Dharam chara” is an ancient Indian advice – speak the truth, do what is right.
Is it so difficult to find out whether the politically correct view is truthful or not?
Let’s take for example the concern to empower women. It’s a worthy concern. But what has happened in the name of feminism and gender equality clearly went overboard and has become harmful.
“Why should I move to the place where my husband gets a job? Why should he not stay where I have my friends?” was a major issue in the early years of feminism in the west. So the discord started right after marriage because one of the two had finally to give in and if it was the wife, she would grudge it, now being aware of ‘gender inequality’.
Further, in the name of gender equality, unequal laws were enacted which favoured women and put men not only at a disadvantage, but in danger to land in jail because their side of the story simply does not count. It is apparently assumed that women are always angels and men always beasts, which is clearly not true. As a consequence, men and women are not anymore complementing each other but opposing each other, and in western societies the family system went bust. Many people there feel lonely and lost, yet the creed of feminism is still adhered to by the politically correct.
Should there not be a genuine debate on this issue? Yet it is not happening. Why is any criticism of feminism shouted down by the so-called opinion-makers in the media? Do they want a defunct society for whatever reason?
When I had finished school in the late 1960s, feminism just started in Germany. If I wanted to be ‘modern’ now, I was suddenly supposed to make a career and as compensation, I didn’t need to know how to cook and could decide whether I wanted children, as it was “my body”.
I remember that some feminists then were even fighting for girls to be included in the 18-months long military training that was obligatory for boys at the age of 18. Many women, including me, did not agree with those feminists, but we had no voice, whereas their voice was heard loudly almost daily in the media. Brainwashing is usually associated with fascist, communist or religious ideologies, but it seems, media, too, are willing henchmen to support it and how effective they are!
Let’s take another example: religion is seen as sacrosanct and freedom of religion is guaranteed in the UN Charter. Yet a clear definition of religion is lacking. Should we not have a closer look at religions regarding what is true about them and what cannot possibly be true? This debate also is not happening. Instead it is politically correct to project Islam as a religion of peace and Christianity as a religion of love, and Hinduism as a loose collection of cults which have many flaws that need to be corrected, preferably by western experts of “South Asia”.
This is turning truth on its head. But why is it done? Do the powerful, influential, wealthy religions of peace and love (both of them gained the huge number of followers through violence and indoctrination) sense that they will be losing out when there is a genuine debate? Hindus would have the upper hand because their tradition is based on philosophy (= love for wisdom) and not on coercion into blind belief.
The insights of the rishis keep being vindicated by modern science and are open to direct, personal experience in this life, provided one purifies one’s inner perception. The followers of the dogmatic religions, however, have to wait till they are dead until they know whether it was true or false what the priests or mullahs told them.
The rishis enquired into truth. “Religion” in the sense of imposing a fixed doctrine was inconceivable for them. Debates on what is true were held in which women, too, participated. The question revolved around how to make life meaningful and fulfilled. The answer they found was: the purpose of life is to discover the truth about ourselves.
Let’s bring truth into our lives and stand by it. Let’s not be swayed by political correctness or other types of indoctrination. Ultimately truth alone is victorious – and maybe it sounds strange, but I am convinced that truth is alive. If it is honoured, it will foster you.
By Maria Wirth