We Stand By You As Humans And Not Just Indians
In solidarity with Pakistan
I was stuck in traffic yesterday when I first saw the news flash across my phone. There are times when the noise and chaos that we’re so used to becomes almost non-existent when such heartbreaking and terrible events occur, not too far from where we live. The world stops and makes no sense. What happened in Peshawar (Pakistan) has repercussions across boundaries and borders. We are human, at least most of us.
No act of terrorism can or should be compared. A loss of life to a family is in reality their loss alone. We mourn as strangers, we mourn as a collective wing of arm chair social media enthusiasts, and we mourn as human beings – as sons, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters. We mourn in our own ways – we update statuses on Facebook, we turn profile photographs into an empty and lonely shade of black. We organize vigils and marches, and light a candle or two. We remain paralyzed and stare into nothingness. But if we are mourning, we owe it to those we mourn for. And that’s the question we need to ask of ourselves. Not as Indians or global citizens – but as human beings.
Yet, we mourn far lesser than those families that have to deal with a son or daughter not returning from school.
Yes, you read that right – from school. I can’t imagine a world where we have to worry about our children being safe at school. We prepare them for a world – after school. We prepare them for life and all its difficulties and challenges and struggles. But, here we’re dealing with a situation where schools and in the larger scheme of things education is being targeted. Who wins? Who decides? When does this senseless act of killing come to an end? What is the solution? And, is there one?
I cringed as images came through on the Internet. Friends in Pakistan were consoling one another – mothers found it difficult to sleep. A nation lay awake. And, their neighbors were left sleepless in support of their friends from across the border. #IndiawithPakistan made waves on the Internet and as the wave surged, it showed that in the deepest darkest corners of our hearts – we must learn to love in the time of need. We put aside wars and cricket and acts of terrorism suffered by us (like I mentioned no acts of terror can or should ever be compared) but for that moment, we stood still…our heads hung and hearts aching at the huge loss to mankind. Over a 130 children brutally murdered.
Easier said than done, those in Pakistan must continue to fight. The children must go to school, education reforms must continue. From the North West Frontier across the nation, no child should be denied how to learn to read and write. We live in a day and age where without education we are close to nothing. I work in education and for the year that I lived in villages across India I learned the importance to provide EACH child with the access to education. Whether they take it up or not is a choice they make but that option MUST exist for EVERY child.
My friend Samar Abbas Kazmi wrote on his Facebook page, “If our mourning is to have any meaning greater than an instinctive, knee-jerk response to the sheer scale of the tragedy, we must confront these truths about ourselves and find that we are not merely hapless victims of war by an unidentified enemy. We have condoned, if not nurtured, the conditions in which this enemy exists and thrives. If our mourning is to have any meaning, we must change these conditions. So tonight, we mourn. Tomorrow we must change. We simply cannot afford to go back to our petty squabbles and finger pointing, our fantasies of foreign hands, our notions of grandeur and ‘strategic assets’, and, most crucially, the preposterous idea that ‘talks’ with terrorists amount to anything other than unconditional surrender to them.”
I read Samar and several other friends outpouring words of heartbreak, coming together and fighting for a new tomorrow. We as human beings can only promise to help and fight with them.
But today, we mourn.
(About the writer: Arjun Puri was born and raised in Kolkata, back when it was still called Calcutta. As a young child he spent time in Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru – before their names changed. His last long-term home was London, and he fully expects it to call itself something else soon. Arjun graduated from the University of St Andrews in 2007 and worked as a banker for 5 years, before he realised it was not for him. Arjun now lives in Delhi and works in the education sector. He loves books, sport, people and travel -- and most of all, Leyla, his German Shepherd).