Wars and battles and tsunamis and earthquakes have aftermaths. Turmoil, recovery, struggle, destruction, resurfacing, are the ingredients of an aftermath. If we get into semantics, that is. When it is large scale, we call it an aftermath, but on a smaller level, they are just consequences. Aftermaths are usually horrifying and intense, never happy and flourishing. Consequences, however, are multifarious. Excessive consumption, wasteful spending, unfettered binging – these have consequences, often negative. But determined organization, meticulous planning, and careful indulgence also have consequences – most likely rewarding.
There are consequences to our actions. Sounds cliché and we suppress a yawn every time we hear this phrase. Not because we don’t care, but because we do. And we know it only too well. In fact, we do things primarily because we know that there will be consequences. We don’t need reminding. We live in aftermaths. We go around wreaking havoc, internally and externally, and are constantly living in our own swirling repercussions. So, when someone reminds us that something will come back to bite us in the backside, we ache to let them know politely that the phenomenon is currently underway and wonder aloud if their preaching could perhaps take a walk.
In this realm, there is a space, and quite a vast one, where our actions have consequences on others around us. This is the part that is often ignored in the domain of aftermaths and repercussions. For the privileged among us, who have access to a wealth of information, gone are the days when we could say “I didn’t know any better”. Now, shame on us if we say that. If we gawk at a trans person, if we wonder what women are on about with the #metoo, if we belittle a person with disability, the fault lies with us. It depends wholly, completely on our ignorance. When we are inconsiderate, it is but another phenomenon in our seemingly perfect lives and is wiped out from our brains in an instant. But the person we were inconsiderate to, lives in a horrifying aftermath. They wonder what they did to deserve such treatment. They spiral into the bottomless pit of discrimination and disgust from their fellow humans. The trans, the raped, the sick, the poor, the differently abled, the colored – they all deserve to survive their own consequences, not constantly deal with the ones created by others. That is the least they could ask for.
Good begets good. You only reap what you sow. No pain, no gain. All these familiar proverbial sayings only apply to people considered ‘normal’. The one that is at the receiving end of discrimination – they were good, but they beget the worst, because the society was not so good; they sowed the seeds of individuality and freedom, but they reaped prejudice and unfairness; they suffered the pain of living in a society brimming with bigotry, but just gained more of it. Every time we think narrow thoughts and propagate or act on them, a different individual suffers the aftermath. Every time we practice ignorance, a community suffers the aftermath. Every time we turn a blind eye and a deaf ear, the planet suffers the aftermath. So yes, there are consequences to our actions. And not always for us.