Monday, November 16, 2015

The Age of Unkindness


Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
-Martin Luther King Jr.

Pic courtesy of Unsplash



If there's anything that I've learnt from this past week, it's that we as humans have almost lost our capacity for kindness and empathy, and have become inclined to pessimism. When I talk about the loss of kindness and empathy, I'm not even talking about those who were responsible for the horrible events that transpired last week, from a number of places in the world, not just Lebanon and France. No, I'm talking about the rest of us; those who were directly or indirectly affected, those who learnt about the attacks through some media, those of us on the other side.

People who changed their profile pictures on Facebook were attacked for doing so; those who didn't were criticised. We said, yes, great that you're supporting Paris; but where were you when all these other atrocities happened? We continued to judge even when we may have been guilty of the same transgressions. Why is it that we judge ourselves based on our intentions, but others based on their behaviour? 

I don't know why you chose to change your profile picture for Paris, but not for Beirut. Maybe you have family in Paris, maybe you didn't know about Beirut until social media spread the word. Maybe you were actually volunteering in Beirut, and your profile picture change was just a way to display solidarity in case you couldn't physically help? Whatever your reasons were, I have none to be unkind to you for your choices. You and I react to tragedy differently; there are billions of people in this world, and no reason to expect them to think and act the same way. Yes, we can expect each other to act like sensible, kind humans, but there's no reason to be spoiling for a fight when we don't even know each other. 

Perhaps the Internet is the worst place to be when the world is affected by tragedy. Because it seems as though it manages to bring out people's worst. We're quick to sit behind the safety of our screens and judge away, but reluctant to reach out and actually have sensible conversation with the people around us. I read many comments and posts going on about the 'evils of Islam' based on those who carried out the terrorist attacks. Well, what about the Muslim man who gave his life in Lebanon to stop a suicide bomber, and managed to save hundreds? Could his selfless actions really be classified as evil?

A mistake we all need to stop making is to judge the majority based on the actions of a minority. 

Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking...
-Leo Tolstoy 

Watching the news nowadays is one of the most depressing things I can think of doing. I don't know if it's the Pisces in me, or the fact that I tend to put myself in others' shoes, but constantly being bombarded by news of death, chaos and terror makes me weary. Yes, these things are happening, and they're happening worldwide. But what about the positive side of humanity? Who is tasked with representing that, sharing it with everyone, showing us that hope is not lost? 

I still firmly believe that there's a lot of good in the world. I've experienced it, and if I think about it, it reminds me that I live in a beautiful world. Imperfect, yes, but beautiful nonetheless. It's easy to get caught up in all the bad stuff, but we need to be able to shift our ways of thinking. I know kindness and positivity and love can achieve a lot more than hate and judgement and pessimism ever can. At a time when it seems like all we hear about is the bad side of stuff, we should be flooding our lives, our words, even our social media accounts with love and positivity. 

Please keep in mind that I'm not saying we should ignore the negatives, or bash those responsible over the head with bunches of flowers. There's a difference between being hopeful and being ignorant. 

As we start this week off, I'm thinking of and praying for all those who lost their lives in these recent tragedies, and for those who were left behind or adversely affected. But I'm also celebrating the lives of those who survived, thankful for the heroes that emerged, and hopeful about our future on this Earth. I hope you are, too.

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In light of recent tragic events, we must ask ourselves if we're losing our capacity for kindness and empathy.
Posted by The Kenyan Nomad on Monday, 16 November 2015


4 comments:

Anita Walia said...

Very well written & am sure echoing the sentiments of many. Keep up the good work.

Namrata Kohli Sembi said...

My sentiments exactly! Couldn't have worded it any better.

Nina W said...

Agreed! Wise words. I hate watching the news, and the Internet is a cruel place. I read another blog today that used a quote from Mr. Rogers saying, "Look for the helpers!" I am looking for helpers instead now.

Roshni Walia said...

Thank you everyone! And that's a good perspective, Nina, I wish more people thought like that!

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