Friday, December 31, 2010

Philanthropic/ Misanthropic thoughts on 31/12/2010

Dear people,
Today, as 2010 ends and we move towards what will hopefully be a new beginning, 2011 (the phrase is way too clichéd, but our world desperately needs a new beginning right now) , I grasp this opportunity to say to you what I really, really need to say. Please read this!! But let me not push something on you. If you would rather not think or question, if you would just rather go out and “have a blast” on New Year’s Eve, let me not impose this upon you.
Oh!! By the way… I just got to know that my poem “Elegy for a Broken Vase” has been accepted for publication by the Differsense magazine… yay!! J I hope it is a good ending to 2010 and a hopeful beginning for the new…
Okay, This is the result of an entire month of intense thinking, much angst and agony. I became haunted and obsessed with it. This is to share with you some of that, bcos it’s our world, it’s one world, we need to connect, and bcos I want to learn and be wiser, so I must talk to people,of course!! Thought should always precede action. Okay, so let me be honest. In my usual life, balancing my academic life plus my socializing life plus my day dreaming and personal life, plus all the things I must do as an outstation student in delhi leaves me with absolutely no time for much else. My own worries and my own satisfaction is what I am usually preoccupied with. Of course, I am concerned about the world in a general way. Now, however, I have become obsessed with the violence and inequality in this world. This is what we must address now. Immediately. Our own personal lives are nothing short of heaven. One persistent migraine that refuses to go away, one broken heart that adamantly refuses to mend, and one insurmountable NET stubbornly acting as an obstacle … that’s it!! My only and only “real worries”. Tis nothing at all!! And now.. what do I want to talk about?? I want to talk about the war prisoners, the kidnapped children, the raped women, I want to talk about people like Binayak Sen. And so many such people. And you know what I want to talk about?? Animals. The ones we eat. Sorry, I mean the ones which we kill and eat and then call this barbaric practice a civilized one. This is bcos I am haunted now by the eyes and by the pain of those animals… do try, for once, to put yourself in the place of that animal and experience it… of course we say it’s the natural food chain. But aren’t humans something better than animals? I mean we have intelligence, reasoning, we know self control… don’t you abstain from things you really want to do?? Don’t you use your self control? bcos your mind sees that to do such a thing is morally incorrect, however much you might want to do it. We all do. We are all “broad minded, university educated people”… no, this is not entirely satirical. This mail is sent to you bcos I think you are intelligent and sensitive enough to understand, bcos I respect you, bcos I am glad to know a person like you. Okay, when we have reached a stage now when we can see that violence on the basis of gender is wrong, caste is wrong, religion is wrong, sexuality is wrong, when we have studied and rethought power structures… then why don’t we also think that violence against animals is also wrong?? Do we think that animals don’t feel the way we do?? Or are we slaves to our taste buds? Just imagine yourself in the place of that animal… Okay, at a different level now. We are conditioned, of course. But then we are conditioned into so many things. Literature, delhi, and certain people have made me rethink and question my conditioning so much, and I am so glad and grateful for that. But it must not stop!! That is the whole point. I cannot now become complacent and pat myself on the back that I have become so broad minded and stop there. I must stretch myself, go on with this search, this questioning. Yes, it’ll mean a lot of angst, a lot of thinking, there will be pain. I could choose not to think and question and to just be happy. But I can’t be happy!!! As a citizen of this world, I feel I cannot sit and look at so much violence around me and just look on and do nothing. All violence ultimately arises out of forms of power structures. Men over women, adults over children, teachers over students ( all my apologies to the oh-so-many teachers whom I hope have bothered to read this far), rich over poor, humans over animals, always the strong over the weak, the powerful against the vulnerable, … the law of nature to a certain extent yes, but not beyond that, please. As humans, why are we barbaric enough even in the 21st century to only value physical strength? personally, I value moral, emotional and intellectual strength much more. Gandhiji was one of the greatest leaders and India is lucky to have had him. Bcos he fought violence with non-violence. Peace, love and compassion, the only things that make sense if the world has to change for the better… more peace, love, and compassion, endless and healing love… for everyone, not just for our loved ones. Anyways, I think signature campaigns on the internet are very good, democratic, non-violent and effectual ways to do something. That we already do. But can’t we do something more?? We need to bridge the gap between our progressive ideologies and the actual state of things around. The gap is toooo wide, trying to bridge it a bit is so necessary!!
Okay, I was so haunted and obsessed, I couldn’t even sleep, but then I realized I will do no good to anyone by this. If it would have done good, I am willing to suffer. Now, being happy almost seems like a selfish act, an escapist act, but we need to be happy. Bcos it’s true we can’t change the whole world. We can do our bit, though, and that is only possible by doing our work well, contributing in whatever way we can, learning, creating, sharing, helping… if I think of all those victims, man, woman, child and animal, I’ll be sick and insane… so beyond a point, I must put I away. It is not escapism, it’s what I must do to at least do something for this world. We all have different ways of contributing… I was thinking of concrete stuff… I know lots of us are concerned by say, women, for example, or animals, or whatever. We could at some stage, actually do social work, whether by joining an existing organization, or by creating one of our own. Writing, teaching… well, that is what I can do, at least, (and by teaching I mean something much, much larger than creating answer writing and marks obtaining machines. That is NOT what I am going to spend my life doing.) and I think Nandita (Das) ( are you reading, Nandita?? J ) yeah, so I think Nandita was right when she told me once that whatever our heart is in is what we can do best, and when we have that happiness, then we can spread it the best. So we must all find our ways of contributing… but pls let’s not grow complacent, let’s not lose that urgency, let’s keep questioning and examining ourselves and what we are doing!! What good is art, literature, culture, left wing politics in a world like this?? How does it help?? We need to ask, at least, surely.
People, I really really hope no-one’s going to take this in a wrong sense, it is not meant as a morality lecture, it is not meant as an accusation, it is an attempt to share what was spilling over after having driven me insane. Pls take this as an attempt to learn, to share, and hopefully, to make the seeds for some kind of change, that’s all it is!! I want to live close to the earth, and open to the sky, without all the time thinking of security, protection, fortification!! To take whatever life brings!! Takes courage, yes, though.
Okay, now… Extremely glad, grateful, happy and proud to know all the people I send this to!! Learning, living, loving, fulfilling, satisfying, fruition … I wish you all of that in the new year!!!!!!!! J J


Adelaide Dupont said...

What good would the world be without art, culture, politics? We would take away the sources of meaning and engagement for many.

Thank you for sharing and acting on your concern for all sentinent beings, which you conveyed so passionately and openly (and obviously your writing and teaching is much guided by this).

Now that was an outpouring of emotion!

In November 2008, I started thinking much more about animal rights and animal welfare than I had done before.

Yes, I value moral, intellectual and emotional courage. Reason and integrity are key.

Close the gap and open the door! And swing on a star and keep your feet on the earth!

And well I remember Living Close to the Earth.

Some powerful New Year wishes, Shruti.

shrutanne said...

Thank you soooo much, Adelaide!!!!for sharing, for being concerned, for understanding, for writing 2 of the loveliest blog comments I have ever received, and for actually remembering one teenage kid who wrote Living Close to the Earth, who hardly knew anything about the world, but thought she did... !!