By Sindhujaa Kumar for The Times of India and The Economic Times.
“When we are thrown into fire – some of us come out well-cooked and ready to serve the world, some of us simply get burnt and uselessly shrivel away.” – Turkish Proverb
The global crisis today has awakened our sleeping conscience. For decades, we have ignored the seeds of injustice and trauma woven into the very fabric of our society. Today, those seeds have grown into mighty trees with branches spreading across every aspect of life, choking humanity. The global suffering we face today is a sacred passage to a better world, if we EACH decide to make it so.
It is time to gently move towards the fire, instead of turning away. It is time to look at the pain people are going through and let ourselves be scorched, so that we may rise as phoenixes- understanding that by participating in social action, we can be a better-prepared community for facing crisis. It isn’t just collective liberation that we will win from fighting social injustice, but personal liberation too. We have each now seen how planetary crisis isn’t a far-off, ‘out-there’ situation for the world authorities to deal with, but is actually something that will knock at our own doors.
Experiencing trauma and tragedy does not change everyone- although it should. Some of us fall back asleep. Some of us go on to create revolutions. Suffering comes with a purpose – to create transformation, to wake up sleeping dragons, to unleash dormant power. When we are triggered by suffering, we need to seize the moment, seize the emotional upheaval, and ‘MAKE’ it change us, not ‘WAIT’ to be saved. We need to ask questions – 1) Why is this happening? 2) What is blowing it so out of proportion? 3) What solves it? 4) What could we have done better, as individuals who create a society, to have improved this?
The answers are within EACH of us. We will each come up with our own weapon to chop the branch of corruption that’s blocking the daylight. And then, when we come together, we will be an army who fight with mind, body and soul to chop down that mighty tree with it’s many dark branches.
Throughout history, it has always been suffering that has birthed new world orders. When, as a people, we have had ENOUGH of turning a blind eye to oppression, in any of it’s myriad forms, we have fought and changed the world. Right now, we are on the brink of another revolution. Are we going to be the ones who will continue to bear moral, economic and planetary degradation – looking over the horizon with longing eyes for a better world? Or are we going to be the civilization who picks ourselves up and walk into battle for a new world order, a better tomorrow for our children?
For the world to change, we can’t be helpless bystanders, standing on the edge waiting for someone to do something. We have to each make a vow – a promise that we will commit to ideals. This will take dedication and a new way of life. This will mean facing fears, speaking up, diving in with teeth and claw, making trouble for those who put selfish gain over community well-being.
1. An economy that has been designed to keep the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer- where inequality has been normalized, when in fact, if we had reigned in the lakhs of crores of corrupt money and set upper limits on individual wealth, inequality could have been wiped out long ago.
2. A world in which ANY crisis – whether its a pandemic or an economic recession – ALWAYS hits the underprivileged first and hardest, leaving them fighting between life and death.
3. A world in which millions die of starvation even though sufficient food is produced.
4. A world in which intolerance, violence, crime and anarchy is ever increasing.
5. A world ignoring the silent screams of political prisoners.
6. A world which does not even realize that it is amidst moral and physical catastrophe – a world where people cannot differentiate between right and wrong, good and bad, black and white – because ‘grey’ has been toted fashionable.
7. A world where militarization for profit and power is draining our energy resources, re-directing funds meant for human development into war.
8. A world where political instability is castrating international organizations.
9. A world where foreign-aid and funding is used for political interest and corporate beurocracy instead of human interest.
10. A world where industries are allowed to burn up non-renewable natural resources instead of being incentivised to create ecological solutions
11. A world of political chauvinists whose so-called ‘patriotism’ supersedes respect to human life itself.
12. A world where human rights like education and healthcare have been turned into the most profitable business ventures instead of social service domains.
13. A world where climate change and natural disasters threaten us with disease, starvation and extinction. It isn’t that we don’t have scientists, researchers and brilliant minds to find solutions. It’s just that the country never seems to have money to spare for this research. They do have enough and more for political campaigns, multi-billion dollar weddings, monument constructions etc. though!
14. A world where businesses and governments are increasingly non-accountable. The fortitude to face all this cannot be rooted in denial. Let your heart break. Let your tears flow. Because once you decide to face it, the depression will stop, and your inner hero will arise. If we don’t do this, Earth will turn into a hell-realm. Dramatic? Yes, but that’s what we’re on the brink of. Wake up the hero in you. The world is in need of heroes again.
To be effective agents of social change, every individual has to start with themselves. Begin by understanding that the antidote to pain and fear is ACTION. Take ANY action to solve a problem that bleeds your heart. For example, I took up a pen to write this and share with as many people as I could. As a business owner, I have re-ordered my business for better profit sharing and personal support. I have decided to purchase only sustainable, eco-friendly products. I have decided to give up designer labels (by the way, fashion industry is one of those with the most unreasonable profit margins. Huge designer labels set 700% – 7000% profit margins or more, but the profits are not distributed to labour. They are pocketed by that one big name that makes many salivate – a mirror of all other industries) go with more reasonable brands (I’ve found that they don’t lack sophistication or beauty). I waste no energy resources – water, electricity etc. in buildings where I have a say. I’ve taken measures to bring in eco-friendly constructions and contraptions into my spaces. I switched out of a blue-chip corporate career to start a profession that brings well-being to people. I donate money, time and effort to Causes that resonate with me. I try to be the person who walks into a room full of anger or sadness, and change that energy into love, peace and joy. I try to balance between selfless giving and self-care. I try to lead a truthful, unpretentious, responsible and caring life instead of flashing shiny, meaningless objects and lifestyles at people’s faces. And I know that all of this is making a difference. I don’t get it right 100% of the time, but I do sleep better at nights.
I don’t share this to strut. I share this to show every person out there who is asking the question: “What can I do to contribute?” The answer is: do all you can! Start small. Baby steps today, giant leaps tomorrow! Speak. Make art that transforms souls. Tell stories. Donate. Pray. Do whatever you can, but spare the world a thought every single day. And before you know it, you will be an integral part of a new revolution – a new, better world.