Nameless Consciousness in the Numbers
Countless people do not have access to purified water. Countless children are not able to go to school. And, countless people have lost their lives. Government reports and news only tell you the statistics, but never the names and details of these victims. Is it impossible to imagine each face of that number, their daily lives, their feelings, their environment, and their mom, dad, children, people surrounding them and to think of the immense future potential that each of them would have held?
Is it really impossible to imagine these? Is it a waste of time when dealing with something so big, like a grand challenge?
Three weeks have passed since I came to Bangalore. The very surface level of intricate problems in the social system here has gradually become visible. What I have learned so far is that it is almost impossible for such unnamed voices to reach outside. Instead of the voice reaching the outside on its own, it is rather sorted and screened by great power and erased as if the voice emerges from a bottomless swamp and sinks back into the same swamp before it even reaches the surface.
One day in class, under a supervision of Bhargavi, we split into teams and role played a scenario of a heated hearing between local people who were in trouble with water resources and other stakeholders. I was genuinely shocked and mildly mentally damaged by finding how much the voice of underrepresented people was disregarded, and how the privileged ones are treated so preferentially. It was obviously just role playing, but it reminded me of the depth of the swamp of the system. I can imagine the lives of a few of many of the numbers in the statistics of the reports. But that is just an imagination based on my experiences cultivated in my life, and it is probably very different from their vivid and fresh feelings, which they actually experienced. It is also probably almost impossible to imagine someone's entire life of struggles.
But the answer to this question has come to light, "Why did I come to GCIL (Grand Challenge Impact Lab) despite various challenges back home?" I like to be someone who can feel the pain and suffering of a person in front of me even just for a bit, and someone who can share the struggles with individuals. Because through my own experience, I know that just having someone who can feel what I went through as if their own, somehow made my pain feel lighter. I still don't know what contribution I can provide to transform people's suffering but I know I want to be a person who can imagine their faces and imagine their struggles, rather than recognize their pain as just a number. All I can say, is that I am glad I have joined GCIL.
I was able to learn from our guest-speaker, Dr. Sharada Prasad, how crucial it is to have a heart to heart dialog with each other to get to know the person in front of you, and it was more like a human to human heart interaction rather than just an interview. Also, through this program, it was real to me that I went to some towns and villages and was able to breathe the air of the land, feel the smell, listen to the sound in the place, and talk with local women by using hand gestures or giving them high-fives and touching their hard-working hands directly. All of these triggered me to think of someone's actual life in front of me.
I want to believe that unlimited potential lies in the swamp. I feel a suffering and a sorrow of the people that could not reach its surface and the fundamental problems of society are accumulated there and are waiting to be finally risen and be heard.
Lotus flower blooms above the surface of the water beautifully especially in very stagnant swamps. And the flower of lotus exists with the seed unlike any other flower. Within a flower, there is a cause and effect at the same time. Ending this post, I would like to believe that the nameless numbers in the swamp are already a great source of the solutions for the future, and I'd like to be the one who can help their voice to reach the surface.