It takes an earthquake to remind us that we are one. Unfortunately, disasters and condolence-giving events are the few times that we act from a soft vulnerable place in our hearts. The rest of the time, efficiency, productivity, competition, emotions are guiding us. Is it possible to operate from that soft corner of our hearts everyday? Or will life become practically unliveable.
What makes us drop all inhibitions and boundaries is that realisation that the calamity could have well happened to us and destroyed our carefully built lives, just a fickle mahjong tower. We think of our children when we see the children of Nepal suffer – we empathise naturally.
Would we have empathized in the same way if a landslide had let’s say, killed a family of four. Perhaps not. The sheer magnitude of a natural disaster like this puts us in awe. We rise above the machinations of the mind because the mind can’t comprehend ways to tame nature when it must have its way. We act like exhausted parents who can’t seem to turn around a tantrum. We resign and wait.
Is the thought ‘this could have happened to me’ enough? Are we sitting here in India feeling more ‘empathetic’ that someone in the US, who is geographically removed from the affected region? Perhaps sometimes we need to reach out to someone by making them the center of our attention, not ourselves. We cannot judge their pain by imagining how much it would have hurt us, had we been at the receiving end of it.
What I am trying to say is that is being human not enough to help and reach out. Is it important to be a mother to understand another mom, to be a victim to understand another victim, or to be a champion to understand another champion? That would be pretty limiting wouldn’t it? Could we step outside our lives, our family, our homes, our dreams, our image and our sadness and focus our attention on someone else. This would take our attention off ourselves and let us look into the eyes of another without distraction, without constantly trying to relate.
I hope that it doesn’t take an earthquake for us to realise that we are all together in this. Just because we cannot relate, cannot be an excuse for not caring.