Perhaps this is too depressing a post for a warm summer Saturday morning, but it has always been my opinion that our very privileges should makes us empathic to those who aren’t living as freely and beautifully as we do. We live in uncertain times and nowhere are we safe from man-made weapons of destruction. We are not safe 40,000 feet up in the air and definitely not safe walking in the school hallways. School, which was once a haven for every kid-that time of the day when you are with your friends and away from home-is now a place for other gun toting kids. While flying in a big airplane is never risk-free at least you didn’t have to worry about someone standing 40,000 feet below you gunning you down.
Our lives have never been as uncertain as they are today. We rely on the humanity of strangers in every walk of life. We rely on doctors/nurses to care for us when we are sick, rely on drug companies to not kill us with their drugs, rely on the drivers of bus/train to safely take us to our destinations, on pilots to fly us safely over to our destinations, rely on restaurants to not poison us with the food. When you think of all this, the very fabric of human life is so fragile and heavily dependent on everyone doing the right thing. That being said, this is what makes up the human society, and this is what makes us human. But maybe we are slowly losing our veneer of civilization and humanness. Our humanity is a cloak we wear and it doesn’t take much to lose the cloak and show our true sides. It seems as if everyone is out to get everyone else. The feeling of goodwill on helping someone in need is fast disappearing into the feeling of power when you destroy someone/something.
There is a promotional advertisement against communal violence. The video begins with two friends who belong to different religions joking around and enquiring about each other’s family. They suddenly see a guy being beaten up and killed by bunch of hooligans because he belongs to a separate religion. On seeing that, the barber loses control and without thought he cuts the throat of his ‘friend’ who actually belonged to the sect of hooligans. What he doesn’t realize is that it was a film being shot and not a real-life scene. By the time he realizes it, obviously it’s too late. Though the video is bit of an exaggeration, it shows that our skin of humanity is so thin; it can be ripped off at the slightest provocation.
One can argue that the human society has always been violent. The violence is nothing new, cities and civilizations have been destroyed over a piece of land, a wrong word and a woman’s virtue. Read Iliad or Mahabharata- both set in B.C period- and you realize that the Trojan War was fought literally because of Helen and Kurukshetra was fought because of land and to avenge Draupadi’s virtue. Based on what you read, thousands were killed in these wars, cities were plundered and lives were destroyed. Violence in the human society is nothing new, but every century feels that this is the worst in history. And doesn’t matter if violence isn’t new, it doesn’t make it right.
Living in these uncertain times is scary. It does sometimes feel hopeless. But all we can do is live our lives and be thankful for it, keeping in mind there are many people in the world who don’t get the pleasure. Pleasure of running free, of eating good food and most importantly the freedom of following any/all/if any religion you want to. I am sometimes the most complaining person of all, but even I know, being alive, well and complaining is better than the alternative.
Most people don’t like saying goodbyes. They are tough, emotional and heart wrenching. And I think most people are not very good at it. There’s something final about a good bye because you will probably never be that same person again, and in some cases you know you will never meet that person again.
My major goodbye was when I left India to come to US for education. It was my first time out of home, out of country and coming 7000 miles away was a very big step. I still remember the hot August afternoon when I said my byes to my parents before stepping into the terminal to check in my bags. I don’t remember what was going on in my mind at that time, other than stress and panic about the flight ahead. I have thought about that afternoon a lot of times since then and I think I never quite understood the magnitude of what I was doing at that time. I have been to India numerous times since then but I never returned back the same person that I was on that innocent august afternoon.
I hate saying goodbyes. I have had to and still say it every time I come back from India. A part of me doesn’t want to leave home and a part of me knows that I have to go back to the new home. But the main reason I hate good byes is my aversion to change. I believe most of us find safety and haven in familiarity and that’s why don’t like saying good bye to that familiarity. For me, everything that is familiar is safe. I always wanted to be a doctor, but since I couldn’t get an admission in a medical school in Mumbai or nearby regions I opted to go to Pharmacy school. I could have got an admission in a far flung town in a different state, but I never even thought of applying to those places. It was a big change and I didn’t want to make it at that time. But fate decided that I had to move further away from home and despite of my misgivings I applied for MS program in Boston; almost 7000 miles away from home.
While being one of the toughest decisions, I think it was the best one for me. Good byes are an indication of an incoming change and changes are good for you. Life was not meant to be lived always in familiar surroundings and safety. While saying a good-bye is difficult and making changes is difficult, that’s the only way to grow and flourish. Being in Boston for last 8 years, I have again found my familiarity and comfort level. I have grown complacent and once more afraid of changes. If I ever end up saying good-bye to this city, it will be as bad as saying good-bye to Mumbai all those years ago-if not worse!