In the last piece I said how throwing shoes at one’s oppressors is a spiritual act. A reader has asked me he would like to go further and throw stones. Would that be more spiritual?
Let me answer his question with a tale from Ramayana.
Lakshaman and Sugreeva are deliberating on how to cross the sea and reach Lanka with their army. They thought it is best to begin with a prayer to the ocean-god and submitted their opinion to Rama.
Rama accepted their counsel and started his fast and prayers to the sea god. For three days he prayed to the god of the sea but received no response. Then Rama his eyes glowing with anger at the sea-god’s arrogance said, the low minded mistake gentleness and courtesy for want of strength. Bring me my bow and quiver Soumitra, and I will dry up the sea.
He fires a few arrows in to the bosom of the sea. These missiles of power torture the waters and soon the sea god can’t stand it any more. Shining like the rising sun behind mount Meru he appears with his hands folded in apology before Rama and says ”Ask the vanars to bring boulders and trees to build a causeway. I shall permit it. I shall help you by receiving and keeping the rocks and the trees. I shall also show the most favourable place for the causeway. You will have all my co-operation. May victory be yours.”
Rama true to his nature graciously accepted the sea god’s apology and his offer of help.
It is important to note that in this entire show of power Rama doesn’t use his most potent arrows which could have dried up the sea.
Similarly in our show of protest we should for some time continue with shoes only.
Hurling stones at this time could prove counter productive. Why?
Stones might irrepairably damage our oppressor. That is not what we want. We are withdrawing from him the respect which we gave him. The shoe hurled does the job.
The media and the general public is with the shoe thrower. (In fact the first shoe which was cast in India was cast by a journalist only. Note also the shoes at Bush was also cast by a journalist. This is a brave tribe and its support can bring about the revolution that we need). If you start throwing stones or bullets you might lose the journalists’ and public support.
The politicians have forgiven all the offenders so far. Are our politicians so magnanimous? No. The elections are on. Fierce action against offenders can trigger and voter backlash. In my estimate the politicians will start striking back after the elections. If you throw a shoe you might live to throw a shoe another day. But if you hurl stones or bullets you might be incarcerated for a life time under IPC 307.
So stick to the shoes. It makes more strategic and makes more spiritual sense as it is more compassionate.