Last night I wrote an email with the subject as “Imagine A New World”, and just the moment I sent it, I was thinking – what did it mean for me?
People who know me, also know that I could build castles in the air. I could write of illusions that don’t exist, but could be possible if worked upon. I could make them dream. But this phrase today for me was more of coming back home & acknowledging the reality – something hidden deep within the mirages people are portraying it to be.
Today being Maha Shivratri, a grand festival in India, the local Temple near our residence was buzzing with activity. The Temple, or the Church, or the Gurudwara for that matter – the places I have visited (not yet a mosque or a dargah, just by chance) – offer a certain sense of peace & calm even with so much of activity happening inside them. Maybe amidst so many chants & bells ringing, one tends to seek within – a sense of oneness with self. (That’s a totally different topic to talk about though, I shall write sometime soon on that too). But what was fun to watch was that in this fraction of the world, I saw a sample space of what humanity is. There were people around, celebrating the traditions, people like me who saw others & copied the methods of pouring water over the Shivling and everything else that becomes part of the Aarti/offerings. There were kids who were new to all this – learning about the stories that are part of our mythology with much excitement. And probably, there were people of other faiths who just came in to see & experience what festivities looked like for us. Yes, there were the underprivileged who lined the entrance in hope of getting something – to eat or to spend to eat. But otherwise there was no other way of knowing who was rich or poor. Because each of us in those four walls was just another human seeking God & praying for his/her happiness and growth, of their family’s happiness and growth and the same for the society. Maybe, just maybe, we forget our identities before we enter a place of worship. We were just beings & there was the infinite power, the unknown, yet the known – God.
And this isn’t something just constrained to Temples. You visit the Gurudwara and they won’t ask you your faith before you are given the “kadha prasad” or asked to perform “seva” (community service). Same goes in Churches, you are welcomed to sing along with the choir groups & dance during the Christmas feasts or just sit & adore the inner self in the silence on a Sunday afternoon. And I am sure the Mosque or the Dargah are all the same too. No one asks you your status, your faith or your sexual orientation. They just let you be & they be themselves.
This is the world I see, not imagine.
But I come back home to my TV screen bombarding me with news of all sorts of ‘isms in my society. My social media feeds screaming of the intolerance in the country. News where all I see is my country making prime time news debates of not what one would call development – but what seems more controversial. I may not so much have debated on the start-up ecosystem that my government wants to provide me – the ifs & buts of the whole scheme, but I have more than needed debated on what I would like to term as nationalism. Wherein I forgot that I was trying to establish an entrepreneurial venture for which I had to build a project proposal and maybe sit in silence to think of the innovation angle it could have (rather than copying the same idea already being en-cashed by million others), because I now have to see both sides of the national-antinational debate to choose a side (or not) and appear just as intellectual as others. Also, just to let you know – the debate isn’t complete till we have chosen whether it’s right to hoist our national flag in the universities or not – yes that’s a question now. Ok, the start-up ecosystem? What news was that? You’re not current buddy! Talk of the town is the new ‘ism – choose yours & enjoy the entertainment. Oh just by the way, copy paste that idea – it’ll still sell!
Now here’s where imagination kicks in – of the new world. A world where we would lose a sense of belonging. A world where talk of ideas would become outdated. A world where it would become more convenient to talk of people & situations. A world where we only talk of ideas is when we need that next round of funding – where the idea then somehow becomes the best possible pitch that would work in the market, not because of the innovation – but because of it being the highly selling service that people are ready to buy.
Another rat race that we became a part of.
I am someone who really doesn’t hold high the evaluation system of our times – the marks in boards or college or any other degree hold no importance to me if you’re not genuine in your talk & work. So with that – I really won’t care if you remember nothing out of your NCERT book. But I’m hoping, even the faintest of hopes would let me stride through here, that you remember the talisman given by Mahatma Gandhi that the NCERT books started with.
Here it goes:
So now tell me, do our debates of nationalism & all the other ‘isms help the poor gain anything? Does our stalling of the parliament & not letting discussions happen over the start-up ecosystem or the GST bill help the weak? Think over it.
And then come back to reality. It’s all good boss! Just don’t stop working & thinking of creative stuff – of ideas, of methods & of scenarios – which will help the poor/weak gain something, which will give them a control over their lives and destiny.. That’s where the imagination is needed.
Amazingly, the email I wrote came back with a reply which said “I don’t take this for granted”.
Yes, please don’t take this environment for granted. For this may change for the worst, this may change to a situation where you have no say in your destiny. This may change to a situation where your elected members do not talk of your rights & duties but of what is fashionable and “intellectual”.
And this may someday be a situation like the US, where they are REALLY missing the outgoing President given they now have options like Donald Trump! You can only pity them. For maybe they took for granted that the country would always have a vibrant person like Barack Obama heading their population.
(Do watch this video of his, and the analysis of what makes a great speech, and you’ll realize what’s missing from the scene in this election. Bring in the parallelism too Sir, yes it’s there.)
Hope we don’t take such leaders for granted in our home land, we too have our Donald Trumps remember (you know who). Let’s work on developmental issues & help others implement too. Let not the politics & the theatrics tell us how divided we are, but let your good-self see how truly tolerant we are in this pluralism that the country offers us.
Let our imagination take the leap, but with eyes set at the Talisman.
I’ll close this & head to watch Obama’s Yes We Can. Motivation too can’t be taken for granted! ;)