How to keep faith afloat in the times of distress

With the earthquake in Pakistan and Nepal, the massacres, wildfires and floods, the still continuing devastation, these are not the very best of the times for humanity. Last few months news primarily has been wars, deaths, damage and oppression of women. We all have lived to see abduction of 270 girls by the terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria. The Malaysian aircraft MH-17 was shot down in Ukraine. The terrorist outfit ISIS has caused unprecedented loss to human lives. With the continuing rape cases in India, starting with the Nirbhaya rape case that called attention of the world and made every women sob in fury. As if these natural disasters and wars were not enough, adding to the agony are conspiracy theories floating around. The case in point being the missing Malaysian Airline 370, which is bewildering.

For people who are far from all this, it is a difficult spot to be in. It is easy to empathize but challenging to comprehend the unstoppable magnitude of this chaos. One cannot stay removed from all this. The news is not going to stop pouring in. The social media is on an overdrive. We are only going to see more and more of the same. It is disturbing to say the least.

So how to stay together, positive and reconnect with the universe when there is so much pandemonium.

The world is not coming to an end. Before the current times, we have seen world wars, plagues, oppression of women, handicapped, and persecution of ethnic groups, people of different race, gender, orientation and faith. Earlier it was in the name of kingdoms and wealth. Now it is for oil and border protection. Later it could be for water and air. Understand that this might not be a consistent state of existence. However, there has been, is, and will be – something or the other daring us to lose faith in humanity. So should we succumb to this, or stay afloat? The choice is ours.

Don’t be afraid of being sensitive. With the understanding that there will always be something that will trouble the world, it should in no way make us immune to it. It is not business as usual if wars, rapes and disasters keep happening. It is an aberration. Even animals mourn at the loss and damage to their kin. Stay sensitive. Cry if you feel like crying. When the Nirbhaya rape happened in Delhi, I had cut off from all social networking sites and unconsciously went in a mourning period that lasted two-three months. I didn’t fight the anger and the feeling of being wronged. I surrendered to the angst for a while. I could not go back in time and revive that innocent girl. Neither could I go ahead and prosecute the rapist. The legal system is disillusioning. The counter comments of dim wits, trivializing such issues is infuriating. So what can you do as an individual?

Channelize this anxiety. The pointless virtual activism of social networking sites, changing of profile pictures and updating status messages is of no consequence. To feel connected to the scheme of things, try to act in a more meaningful way. It is more fulfilling than you think. I had visited Kashmir in 2013. I had fallen in love with the place in such a profound way that I was actually hurting when floods ravaged the state in 2014. These were the lovely locals who had bowled me over with their hospitality and affection. I found out a credible route and gave away all but two–three pieces of my warm clothes, jackets, socks, caps, sweaters, shawls, everything I had. Maybe I helped cover the body of one freezing human being.

Lastly, embrace the ebb and flow. There were survivors of the concentration camps too. Imagine the faith they would have kept in spite of their oppressors. No one deserves what they get. They just simply get it. So keep your faith, your humanity and positivity alive. Try to become a part of this universe by staying connected.

[This article was first published as a column in The Times of India.]

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