Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Make It Count

Big horror happens and we reel from the impact. Or we think we do.
We believe our hearts bleed so much for those who suffer that we can't wholly comprehend it.
We allow the terrible events unfolding outside to make us feel safe and grateful on the inside.

We tweet, blog and weep in our private corners.
Our sympathies are real, they express solidarity with an honesty of intention that eases our own anxieties just a little bit.
Nothing can help, even the tiniest thing helps.
How do we make sense of it all? What can we do?

We cling to hashtags and social media outpourings. Against our best instincts we look and re-look at photographs. We read and re-read grisly testimonies.

But how do we make it count?
Last evening, I fell asleep with the heavy knowledge of what happened in Peshawar, of what takes place every day in Syria, Iraq, Kashmir, Manipur, my own hometown of Delhi and too many other places on this planet. I wondered what I could do to make the horrific knowledge count.

The only answer I could come up with was to wake up.
To not make it about things that happened Over There but wake up to what I am complicit in Over Here.
Every moment that I am intolerant, or so wounded that I lose the ability to empathize.
Every time I see a child, a grown up or an animal in distress and do nothing.
Every time I allow injustice to happen in front of my eyes - no matter how tiny or how big.
Every time I am blind to injustice because my privilege allows me to be.
Every time I choose my comfort over doing what my heart knows is the right thing - I am complicit.

We wonder how men can look into the eyes of an innocent child and shoot point blank.
We must also wonder how we look at a shivering beggar child at a traffic stop and roll up our windows.
We wonder what makes people so ruthless they can set fire to a teacher in front of her students.
We must also then wonder what allows us to look away when we see a woman being molested in broad daylight.
These horrors are not equivalent, I know, but it is where we can begin to make them count.
Otherwise it's all empty, like a headline, a status update or a hashtag.