Far Cry 3 (Part 2/2): Empathizing with Vaas
Ever since I was 14 years old, I have held a deep resentment for the Indo-Canadian (mostly Punjabi) community. In high school, I watched my peers develop an admiration for gang-related activities. It was very shocking, not only because it was ruining their future, but because it was their version of ‘cool.’ If only they educated themselves on gang-related violence, I thought.
I found myself cutting out Indo-Canadian-related articles from the newspaper every day. This was my way of legitimizing my argument I think, because almost every article I found focused on gang activities, domestic violence, and drugs.
In a culture where violence, racism, sexism and castes existed, I wanted a better life for myself. A life outside of this traditional bubble. It was only when I was older when I finally gained a voice regarding the community’s issues.
While playing Far Cry 3, I immediately empathized with Vaas…
It was clear he was a violent character; he took pride in the kidnapping and violence of innocent people. But almost instantly, I understood how his upbringing brought him to this stage. I knew there was good in him. This is because so many people in the Indo-Canadian community behave similarly to Vaas. The way Vaas spoke, swore, and threatened was very parallel to the Punjabi men here in Canada. I remember even joking around and saying, “Vaas doesn’t seem so threatening. He seems like he could be my long lost cousin or something.”
Most of the time, anger issues stem from a traumatic history or an unloving surrounding. After understanding more about Vaas’ – er – family member, it is clear that Vaas was Vaas due to external reasons. This is similar to the people in the Indo-Canadian community. A lot of Punjabi families in Canada isolate their community and raise their children in a traditional world. Boys are pampered and grow up to be egotistical, and girls are taught to do house chores. Moreover, castes and pseudo-arranged marriages (where parents calculate their children’s relationships before they start dating) are important in these families. The Punjabi community also teaches their kids to be ‘proud’ of their heritage, which further enhances their ego to absurd proportions.
Thankfully, not every Indo-Canadian family is like this, but a lot are. After playing Far Cry 3, I’ve understood that I am not so irritated by my violent brothers and sisters here in Canada. When Vaas appeared in the game, I felt like great empathy for him, which really surprised me.
With education, I have found it easier for me to flee from this traditional bubble. But would it be selfish to only liberate myself while other men and women in my culture face gang violence, domestic abuse, and limited voices?
This is something I ask myself all the time.
– Jennie Bharaj