During my school years, I remember my classmates sitting around and saying how boring the subject of Social Science is. But, I took the most important lesson from it. Social Science was a broad topic and therefore was divided into four parts; History, Geography, Political Science, and Economics.
Geography was relatively easier to study. History was a frustrating subject because of all the tongue-twisting names and dates we had to learn by-hearts. My 10-grade teacher was adamant about all the dates and the kids usually groaned at the idea.
Political Science and Economics, on the other, were interesting because they were extremely disturbing subjects to read as it dealt with the current reality, unlike history.
Economics exposed all the socio-political situations and how it is affecting the economy and the nation’s structure.
Political science dealt with politics and the multi-party system, which is the norm in my country, India.
The important lesson that hit me and continued to stay with me was regarding the significance of dissent, notably in the context of social justice and emancipation of the marginalised.
In history, there were accounts about how people were, jailed beaten, and sometimes killed for having an opinion or an idea that is different from what was generally agreed.
In theocratic nations or where there is a dictatorship system, there is zero-tolerance for political pluralism and therefore, it was dangerous to convey a different idea, even within one’s own circle.
In the political science textbook, which was part of the school curriculum, there was a cartoon conversation about three friends who completely disagreed with the government that was ruling the country they were in. Finally, the teacher tells them how lucky they are to be in the system that permits the expression of different ideas.
Dissent is what led to the creation of a civilised society that practices equality and regards it as a necessity. Today, sections that suffered from oppression and marginalisation have their rights because someone in the past dared to dissent until someone from the authorities’ side listened and understood what they withheld. Or until, the system that oppressed people was overthrown.
This is one of the ideas that I took with me after I passed out of school. It is the idea I work with as a writer because the governments and ruling sections should listen to the people.
For eg: there are factors that were mentioned in the textbooks that still happen today; environmental degradation, deforestation, pollution, and climate change. Retaining the health of the environment is also a human rights issue that affects the marginalised section more.
A young girl named Greta Thunberg expressed her dissent and soon, she conjured a movement.
The need to voice dissent also involves bringing attention to these issues as much as possible to ensure that change happens.
While dissent also involves those people who might give out a wrong or problematic idea, civilisation should strive for an environment where wrong ideas can be canceled out with democratic conversations and respectful disagreement. Which is what the kids in that cartoon was finally able to achieve.