The dictionary defines the word civil as adhering to the laws of polite social intercourse. We can interpret this in common language to mean that civil societies are those that do not resort to barbaric acts of violence against their fellow human beings and other living organisms. While we would all like to think that we live in a civil society, the fact is that honour killings and random shootings jolt us out of our complacence and force us to take a harder look at the violence that simmers beneath a very thin skin of normalcy. The fact is that we’re all predisposed to turn a blind eye to the things that are not considered normal and which make us uncomfortable – this is why we pretend not to notice the homeless man begging at the street corner; this is why we ignore the loud noises and abrupt screams coming from a neighbour’s home even though we know that it must be reported as a case of domestic violence; and this is why we pretend that we live in a civilized society where nothing untoward happens. But we are surrounded by acts of barbarism, acts that would be condemned even in the olden days – how many women in Islamic countries have been stoned and publicly flogged for the crime of infidelity or indecency? In most cases the victim would have only been talking to a boy or walking beside him, or been found guilty of going out without a veil or drinking at a social gathering. How many women have been murdered by their own brothers and fathers in so-called honour killing rituals by extreme Hindu and Muslim families because the women dared to fall in love with someone belonging to another caste or community? Closer to home, how many random and violent shootings have we heard of in the past few years when gun-toting, supposedly normal people opened fire on everyone around them, sometimes going around their vicinity looking for more people to shoot before turning the gun on themselves and committing suicide? And how many of us know people who are victims of domestic violence and rape? Is this what we call a civilized society? We have advanced in leaps and bounds in every aspect of life; but there are still people who pretend to be normal in open society and practice crude and narrow-minded customs in the privacy of their home. They’re all well educated, sometimes at the best institutions in the world. They’re well respected in their chosen professions, but when it comes to treating their womenfolk, they’re literally barbarians. If education is the answer to a more civilized society, why do bright students who are mentally troubled turn on their counterparts and kill them? The problem with education today is that it is sometimes restricted to just book knowledge. You are rated and judged according to your GPA, not according to the kind of person you are. At the end of the day, there’s no use being learned if your mind is still stuck in prehistoric times.