I guess by now many serious secularists are loosing family members, friends, and even acquaintances because of heated debates. Debates which can only consolidate differences without resolutions. I have been warned regularly in a variety of platforms for participating in 'useless' discussions and debates. Warning came in facebook groups, whatsapp groups and in blogs. Moreover, there are well wishers within the family, friends and colleagues who with their serious concerns want people like me to stay away from conversations both online and offline. However, there are reasons for which I refuse to give up and I would urge everyone to do so. DO NOT reduce the size of your communal minded friends from your online of offline lists.
Removing them might give you a moment of peace as you will get more time to do some 'serious' and 'real' work rather than getting involved in the endless successions of arguments and counter arguments. However, there are several reasons for not doing so.
a. Even in a communally inclined thread you need to keep commenting the secularist version of the 'truth' and argument - remember your attempt will lodge a counter to the dominant paradigm and might make some to rethink or at least remember the alternative.
b. since, the word 'secularism' is dead for frustrated Asis Nandy and slogan for saddened Romila Thapar or Rajeev Bhargava, it is your responsibility to uphold the true spirit of secularism through your words and practices.
c. since, 'secularism' is no longer dead or just a slogan, rather it has become a abusive and derogatory term being used against you, you need to stand by the word, create and rejuvenate the sentiment within you and then uphold the spirit in the social media.
d. there are problems of definition of the term secular, accept that, but whether it separates state and religion or it goes for sarba dharma samabhaba approach, remember it is the only refuge from the increasingly polarised and mistrusted society. Secularism is a practice, our action can reinforce that.
e. do not disrespect your communal minded friends, most of them are communal for a reason or for a purpose. Try to identify that and attempt to resolve. Secularists should take up the role of healer and less of an attacker. The world surrounding us is suffering from a deep seated disease.
f. remember, the more you remove people from your friend list the more they are alienated from an exposure to alternatives. You are in a sense suffering from the same alienation. There is no point in creating fighting tribes of seculars and religious or communal and then consolidating your support base to fight with each other.
Finally, when we engage in a debate, there is no point in winning the debate, try to present arguments firmly, because ultimately debates will enhance the knowledge base.
Image courtesy: https://www.socialpost.news/analysis/secularism-the-disappointing-reality-of-india/