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This I Believe: Biriyani and Back-biting

Fatina Faizel midshot
Beatrice Bonner
NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS
Fatina Faizel - Springfield High School

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the 17 years I’ve been alive, it’s that the Brown community loves spice. I’m not just talking about the cardamom in your plate of biriyani or the cumin in your chicken tikka masala.  I’m talking about the kind of spice you can get by eavesdropping on the aunties after the Friday prayer, chatting about whose daughter was wearing what or that they spotted someone’s son alone with a girl at the movies. The kind of spice you could fill volumes of tabloid magazines with. 

Growing up in a predominantly Indian community, we’ve indirectly had the “What will others think of me?” mindset drilled into our heads. It’s evident every time my mom tells me to wear gold jewelry to appease my grandmother, or when my dad tells me not to wear certain clothes because I might be perceived as promiscuous. One wrong move, and it’s over.

Our honor is a fragile and precious thing that we choose to keep in the hands of a careless community. To put it simply, it sucks to have people judge us for our every move even though they know nothing about us. But if that’s the case, why do we keep doing the same thing to other people? The answer is simple: We backbite  others to make ourselves feel better about our character flaws.

While this may make us feel good in the short-term, this habit is a double-edged sword. Gossiping fosters the sort of mindset that says, ‘Yeah, I messed up, but at least I’m not as bad as them.”

This mentality, in turn, leads to complacency that can inhibit our growth as a person. And just to be clear, this isn’t just an Indian problem. Just two taps away on our phone, there’s probably a celebrity getting “canceled” for something controversial that they said or did years ago. The whole irony of this is the fact that the people who played a part in “canceling” have probably said something as, if not more, controversial themselves.

The only difference between that celebrity and the general community is the fact that the celebrity committed their misdeed publicly, while we are at liberty to do those same things in private. It’s important to remember that even though some spice can add flavor to your life, too much of it can cause someone to get burned.

We’re all human here, and we’re not perfect. So why don’t we stop expecting things from other people that we can’t expect from ourselves? Of course, I’m not suggesting that we turn a blind eye when we see something unjust, but rather, we should change the way we deal with a situation. Instead of playing the role of the punisher, we should humble ourselves and lead by example and kindness.

A world where people reflect on themselves before commenting on the actions of others, is a world that has much potential for improvement; This, I believe.

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