This time our pre-meeting chat about the happening around us spilled over to our regular weekly meeting. We are trying to work on ourselves. But at the same time, we are also witnessing tremendous amount of violence, injustices, corruption etc, rampant in the world around us.
“We do not live in isolation. Our objective is to become better human being and at the same time work to build better world around us.”
I wondered. It is so difficult for me to change my own self, how am I going to change others? I or for that matter our group itself is too small to talk about influencing or changing the society. None of us is social worker nor any of us is leader. We are ordinary human beings engaged with our routine life. We do not have time or energy to change the world.
“You do not have to change anyone. Nor you have to be special. All that you need to do is to take initiative and connect with like-minded people and play your small role in the joint task of building better society.”
“India will be different, if you are not indifferent.”
This statement had an immediate powerful punch, but little did we realise that it will soon become a slogan galvanising collective movement across India. On shedding our indifference what is it that we start doing? We started exploring possibilities and shortly an action plan emerged.
We gathered details of NGOs across the country and wrote to them letters proposing a joint campaign with this slogan. We proposed joint work based on the methodology of non-violence and non-discrimination.
Shortly we started getting responses from different parts of the country. Among us we divided the States and virtually each one ended up taking charge of connecting with NGOs of one or two States.
“To take the proposals forward, we have to visit them.”
How will we do that? We have never done it before. We do not know them, and they do not know us. We even do not know their language. How will we relate? A deep fear was lingering – is it safe to travel to these far-flung places? And finally, what about the costs? Who will pay for all this?
Anyway, we took the plunge. All of us got connected with the NGOs, travelled to and interacted with many of them in the respective states allotted to us. It goes without saying that each one of us happily paid for our travel and stay, from our own pocket.
With our first round of interactions itself, we were unanimous in our conclusion that “this has been the best and most enriching experience of our life.”
At the outset we realised the change in ourselves when we embarked upon this project. We could feel the difference when we are on a real self-less action drive. All our apprehensions had vanished. We were bubbling with enthusiasm and energy. Wherever we went, we never had problem of relating. We never experienced any disconnections. We realised the value of human warmth.
There were times when we did not know their language and they did not know our language. Still we connected with each other so very well that we realised the meaning of the words called ‘language of the hearts.’
Coming out of our narrow shell and shedding our ‘indifference’, we realised that there are thousands and thousands of people of goodwill all over the country. The basic humanist tenets of non-violence and non-discrimination is all pervading. It was a humbling experience to realise that despite their meagre resources and several constraints they all are working actively for building better society.
They are working in diverse fields. It could be area of education or health. Work for women or children. For uplifting the poor or under-privileged and so on.
We did not have to do anything to change them. Instead the experience changed us. We realised the phenomenal goodwill already present everywhere around us. We were surprised at our own ignorance about it and our consequent feeling of hopelessness about a better world. Eventually jointly with them we carried out many projects of social impact subsequently.
But at that time one thing for me was sure. Enriched with a better perspective of human society, this unique experience was carrying me forward in my journey to becoming better human being.