Life asked Death, “Why do people love me, but hate you?” Death responded, “Because you are a beautiful lie, and I am a painful truth.” Whether we are living a beautiful lie or a beautiful truth, whether we hate death or accept it, no one expects death to be as unexpected as it would be during a celebration of life itself. No one would want death to come embrace us on someone else’s terms, neither ours nor Death’s. And it pains me a lot to see anyone put a price on life and take it away from others who deserved it, just because that person decided that they didn’t deserve to live.
“The greatness of humanity is not in being human, but being humane,” Mahatma Gandhi had said. It didn’t involve any distinction between people based on any aspect. Yet, it’s that most essential of qualities, compassion, that seems to be lacking in us these days. Rather than being humane, celebrating life, living and let others live, we create norms to decide the deserving, and celebrate the death of those who aren’t. It is with pride that responsibility is taken for some deaths, as if that is an accolade that is worthy of something better in the next life. It has become so common to see and hear news of death that the heart has lost the ability to sympathize with the loss that’s seen. The voice that once said, “Oh dear, he died on the spot” with much sadness and wondering about how the near and dear of that person would be feeling, now says, “Dead on the spot” without as much as a thought.
Writing this may or may not make a difference. It will not stop the innocent from being killed without a second thought, not really. I know that. But the sadness is something I cannot be indifferent to. It may be a news topic that will soon be a part of some archives, forgotten by most except for those whose lives were actually affected by that. I remember 2008 and Mumbai vividly. I remember trying to contact my friends there, to make sure all were okay, I remember the heart beating anxiously. The distance wasn’t there in the heart. Only the people were.
More recently it has been Paris, Nice, Brussels, Baghdad… no, I have no one in those places that I know, but to wake up to the news of life being taken from the people over there was not, is not, and should never feel nice. As a friend once said to me, “The day we feel indifferent to the ugliness around us, that’s the day humanity would have lost the ability to be humane.” I wish now, as I wished then, that that day never come upon us. Life isn’t valued based on borders and names. If you feel that it is, imagine if you did know someone over there. Would you still feel that life doesn’t matter?
I pray for those souls to find peace and for their loved ones as well. And a prayer for humanity to not remain indifferent.
different voices, different faces,
different times, different places,
yet the fate stayed the same,
unexpected and unwanted,
this bloodshed that was flaunted,
as if it was just some game.
alike were the tears, the fears,
the anxiety for those so dear,
going farther than the eye sees,
silence is all that remains,
with memories that shall pain,
and an old prayer for peace.
(© Vinay Leo R. @ I Rhyme Without Reason, 15th July 2016)