Punished for being resilient : spirit my foot
July 13, 2006
I heard it on television, yesterday, while I was at work. It had happened again. Someone had once again seen fit to disrupt life as we know it, using force.
Running to the TV set, I simultaneously began dialling family and friends. The networks were jammed. I stayed at work until around 1.00 am before having someone come and pick me up as the taxis were all occupied. As I made my way home, I saw more ambulances than I had seen in my life. There were people in pain, angry, desperate, and searching for signs of hope from unlikely sources.
I saw the police struggle to curtail angry mobs stoning taxi drivers who refused to take them where they wanted to go. I admit, I silently applauded the attackers, as I believe public servants should serve the public, not hold them to ransom. I stayed clear of the station roads, where the blasts occurred. The media had descended in full force, hungry for sound bites, pictures and video footage.
The next day, it was the same journalists who applauded the fact that Mumbai was back at work. They called it our resilience and celebrated our ‘spirit of courage’. But, as I made my way to work, I saw the remains of yesterday in the form of the expressions on faces, the worry, the police and overflowing hospitals with weeping relatives outside.
I had to wonder. Are we glorifying ‘resilience’ or ‘stony heartedness’? Have we, the white-collared, become robots that do not deviate from our routines to take time to feel other people’s pain, offer help where necessary? Does the loss of life in this country mean so little? Why is the government silent? Will they make their standard offer of a sweaty wad of blood money to bereaved families? When will we learn that violence breeds violence?
And then, it hit me. The answer to all my questions was undeniably, simply, that we do not care to ‘know’ the depth and breath of this calamity. We worry less about the collective and more and more about ourselves and our possessions. The biggest tragedy is we are glorified for not feeling.
And they call us resilient…