Our most painful wounds run deep, revealing their consequences on us when we least expect them to. Many wounds so deep, that they run through generations, merging with our blood, mind and consciousness. The pain of our ancestors. The pain we inherit. The pain we pick up to pass on to the next generation. And, in pain lies our hate. In pain, lies our fear. In pain, lies our anger. In pain, lies our helplessness. We have no handle to our pain or our vulnerability. We live in a crowd to hide this, to hope on collective strength to overcome our individual battles. We hope to mask our individual inabilities.
What happens when the collective is threatened? weakened? questioned? ridiculed? attacked?
When the collective feels pain, when the collective feels anger, when the collective feels helpless, when the collective feels threatened, the battle comes out in the open. All our individual battles join to form a large, noisy crowd that drowns and hides our individual fears and battles. And, we feel a false sense of bravado and courage that pushes us to bay for action without a clear idea of target or purpose.
We often equate noise with action, without understanding that tremendous action happens in the quiet, in the noiseless, in the silence, far more complex and deep than the cacophonous noise that drowns everything around.
When the mood is war, the person who talks peace will look dangerous. Weak and stupid. When the mood is noise, the person who prefers conversation will look powerless and outdated.
It takes tremendous will power for those who can see beyond the crowd to stay calm. To take a step back. To keep going, dialoguing and setting things forward in a positive manner that will help everyone much later after the dust has settled down, when the parched throats need water, when the ink has run dry, and the anger is cooled.
But, pain? Yes. It will remain.
What we do with pain that remains? That cannot go away. Do we create more pain, equal pain so the other feels and understands what we go through? But, then our ability to hurt may not be the same as another to do so. Our sensitivity to it, may not be what they possess. The consequences of our reciprocal action may not have the equal, opposing and conclusive effect on squaring records. It may set off a whole new chain of events, that lead to their own consequences.
The wise observe, engage, dialogue, think through. Even if one has to think of a suitable punishment, a great understanding needs to be there how to punish, when to punish and punish in a manner that resolves the conflict.
Is punishment a deterrent for the future? An example for others to fear to tread there? An opportunity to reflect and change for those who erred? A warning that this cannot go on? Is justice another name for revenge? An forced process of making another walk in our shoes to feel the pain?
We need to examine deep within what we seek. As individuals. As families. As friends. As communities. As countries. Whether we reprimand a child, an erring adult, a lying politician, a messed up system, an errant nation. Whether there is an opportunity to understand our own pain or whether we should create pain in the other. Whether we want to stop this chain in our generation or whether to pass it on to the next.
Should our efforts and energies be towards healing or creating more wounds for ourselves? Should we pass on the pain of our wounds to the next generation to carry or we heal and gift them the promise of a better tomorrow?
- Srividya Srinivasan 17/2/2019