India and Pakistan faced a diplomatic and political stand-off less than a week ago, after the heart-breaking terror attack at Pulwama. Key international players stepped in to calm the storm that had been subsequently raised by the violation of the two countries’ airspace.
Indians and Pakistanis watched in horror as various armchair activists and thinkers emerged at their reprehensible best, seeking blood, working over-time to ensure that citizens were conditioned to believe, War is imminent.
It was at this critical moment in contemporary history, that the world saw the unity within the citizens of both India and Pakistan as they joined hands. The War for Peace was now beginning to take shape. With TV anchors war-mongering, peace activists shifted focus on internal development. If there was to be a war, they said, it must be one that is waged on terrorism, poverty and unemployment!
That said, I was invited by a Blogchatter member and friend to write about the current need for Indians and Pakistanis to come together vis-à-vis an entirely different perspective.
Having written about the inclusion of Peace and Conflict studies in core academic curriculums recently, a subsequent thought struck me, “What if the student doesn’t understand the worth and value of what he is studying? What if he is unaware of the glo-cal scenario and thereby indifferent?” Realisation dawned. If the student did not comprehend the full weight of what he is studying and its relevance to the present times, it could defeat the purpose. Peace would become a Utopian concept.
Sensitized young students are a product of reformed mindsets. When a young person is introduced to the idea of peace building, we need to promote the logic behind it. We teach our students about Gandhi, Lincoln and Luther in classrooms but are we teaching them empathy, mindfulness and unity?
Empathy is not a new concept, but an oft neglected one in the modern world. When a child is taught that his wrong thought, word or action could cause considerable damage and pain to another, we must reason out with him too. The youth are gullible, emotional which is why we are witness to unfortunate events across the country. The good news here is that while they may lack inherent practical reasoning, they are quick to absorb what they are exposed to. The right exposure could give them a broader vision, making them the rightful harbingers of hope.
I take a slight detour here to talk about how Indian advertisement agencies and the brands promoting them have played a phenomenal role in spreading the word on different causes. Samsung’s ad on arousing the sentiments for the visually impaired struck a chord across India.
An older heart-warming ad released by Google in 2013 about a reunion of two best friends, elderly men who were separated during Partition only to be reunited by their grandchildren proved inspiring to citizens of both countries. Yes these stories are magical. These stories are what make India and Pakistan who they are.
While Television anchors give the clarion call for war, from their plush AC rooms and while you may endorse those opinions by continuing the discussion in your drawing rooms and lunch tables, ask yourselves, “Am I being fair to the man, posted far away from his home, at the border, on guard as I sleep peacefully?”
While older generations may have lived through the woes of Partition, we have it as hand-me down stories. The young today do not have the time for war, but what is disappointing, is that they do not have time to raise their voice for peace either.
When we initiate conversations at the dinner table, are we aware of the little human sitting next to us, carefully absorbing our hatred and our anger?
We are looking at a systematic re-wiring of young minds, to ensure that they are better prepared for any eventuality. When someone calls for persecution, they won’t join the fray but work towards harmonizing relations instead. When someone instigates them, they won’t fall prey but instead practice those Gandhian principles that we as Indians and global citizens still vouch for. When someone attacks their neighbour, they will protect them for they have done no wrong.
No. We are not talking about an idealistic society, we are talking about a pragmatic young audience that can and will be more responsible towards themselves and towards the society at large. Neutralising voices that only open up for extremism is something that we as a society must actively promote.
Instilling the values of honesty, simplicity and pragmatism is the need of the hour. We are all witness to what is currently happening in Syria and Yemen apart from other violent zones.
Do we want our countries to have young children blown up in shreds or young children in torn clothes wandering the streets searching for their parents as the eyes of the devil lock on them?
Too ghastly? Yes. It is.
You and me makes we, and we must remember that we are responsible for the world we leave behind for our forthcoming generations. Let not the young remember us as the reason for their festering cuts and wounds and aching hearts.
We can’t afford the burden of reality if we sit complacently, watching as bystanders, intellectually dead and morally redundant.
No. Our children deserve better. We deserve better. Promoting mindfulness as a part of our daily life could establish the much needed connect with our own reality.
Let us replace the inflated ego in the “I” and prepare ourselves, the “We” – to engage in a mindful understanding of the present. Let us work together to bring voices that promote goodwill, brotherhood and the spirit of unity, so that we may gift ourselves a future that is embellished in the green of hope, not the grey of despair, the white of peace, not the crimson of crime and the blue of loyalty not the black of hatred and revenge.
You deserve it. I deserve it. We deserve it. Our children deserve it.
Katherine will be joining us on Wednesday, 13 March at 8.30 PM for a chat on ‘how online conversations can be a part of peace movements.’ Join us.