We The Caring Citizens

My friend fell sick that day. So I advised her to go to the doctor. Then throughout the day I kept asking her how she was feeling. I told her to take the medicines on time. Eat on time. Sleep early. Also, to make it a habit not to eat out much. To sleep more. Next day again I asked her if she was feeling any better. And the day after.

Then there is my mom, who keeps falling sick every once in a while. But I don’t think I have shown this much kindness to her ever. The only think I ask her when she is not well and sleeping is- what ails you mom? And then I probably tell her to go to the doctor or to take some rest or something.

Okay, now why is it that I care so much more about some girl I have met not more than two years ago and who is not even probably my close friend or best friend or whatever, compared to my own mother (whose contribution to my life I don’t need to state here in words)? Or is it really so?

An incident occurred in our village a few years ago. A girl, who was not even two years old, was raped by her own father and then buried later, as she died of the violence. I don’t remember what my exact feelings were at that time, but I guess I must have been earth-shaken to say the least.

The father was jailed and was probably convicted later (since he is still in jail). You see, probably! I don’t even know the exact status of the case. And now compare this to the Delhi Gangrape. I have kept tab on every update. I made sure that I read as much columns on the topic as possible, so that I get enlightened about every possible angle. I made sure that I debate it on Facebook, put forward my point of views, ask people to think about it and give my little contribution in changing the status-quo. I also tweeted about it, relentlessly, made my anger known, gave way to my grief, showed how much I cared, showed how noble citizen I was, the citizen who so passionately wished to rid the world of its poisonous ills.

The point? The point is simple. It’s easy to show the world how kind, noble-hearted, empathetic saint you are when you just have to do the talking. Especially when the whole world is doing the same too and you don’t want to stay behind the herd. But how do we act when we have the direct responsibility or when it’s possible take that direct responsibility on our own shoulders?

Let me explain. When my mother is ill, it’s my responsibility to make sure she gets better. It’s my responsibility to take her to the hospital, cook food for her, do her chores. Hollow words won’t impress anyone. So even if I don’t ask my mom more than what ails her and advise her to see a doctor or take some rest, it doesn’t mean I don’t care. I do care. I know that and she knows that too (or I hope she does). But caring is not enough. I need to follow it with action. But I won’t. I will better let my sister do the honours or father or mom herself.

Let me give you another example. There was a boy in my village, who had an affair with a girl. He had probably slept with her too. He had promised her that he will marry her. But when the time came, he faced a huge backlash from his family and hence he broke the promise. The girl was heart-broken and devastated, probably because she knew she could not marry anymore- with any boy (that’s how things still work in our country). So she committed suicide. Her father followed suit, maybe out of shame, guilt, grief or something else. A case was filed and the boy and members of his family were jailed and later released, probably on bail. You see- again- probably. That is my knowledge of the case.

Now the thing is the boy and the family are part of my extended family, since we are from the same village and share the same surname. Now if I want to show that I care about these things (i.e. Violence Against Women, Human Rights Violations, etc.), tweeting and updating statuses won’t be enough. I need to do something, because the crime has happened in my own backyard. If I just talk about it (the way I am doing here), they will be just hollow words. It won’t mean that I don’t care though. I care. But again, caring is not enough.

I will need to get off my ass and do something concrete. Like first of all, it will be really great if I get the complete knowledge of the case. Then I can follow it with consulting with the police, lawyers, attending court proceedings, meeting women rights activists, etc. etc. It’s a hell lot of work, you see. I mean I will have to invest time. Like real time, not the spare time that I use for tweeting and updating statuses. It means I will have to find out legal nitty-gritties of things. It means I will have to make enemies, some of whom will be my own kith and kin. It means I will have to face the wrath of my own family. It means I will have to dry out my bank balance (I mean if I have balance in the first place).

But that’s how you make change happen. That’s how you change the society. It’s some dirty work out there and it is not everybody’s cup of tea. And that is the reason columnists and social media ranters are not called activists. If you want to become the latter, get off your ass and do something concrete. And if you can’t, then become the former and inspire people to do it. If you can’t do any of that, then just shut the fuck up and go about your daily life as usual. That’s fine too.

3 thoughts on “We The Caring Citizens

  1. Very well written, but I do not agree completely. It is wrong to say that you should shut up if you aren’t doing anything. Everyone has their own role to play. Of course, more people, including ourselves, should be more proactive, but even those who aren’t spread awareness which is important too. The ‘mouth’ isn’t a very good ‘arm’, but it can inspire more arms to fight. And if the arm starts to weaken, even the mouth will bite.

    • Well, that last line was for effect. I did not really mean it. Of course, awareness is important. A vibrant public sphere is important. They only strengthen the democracy. But I just wanted to say that even when it is possible, we don’t go out of our ways to do something and I give the reasons for the same too.

  2. really nice!!! i totally agree.. many a times i get the same feeling.. m writing all the time but when it comes down to doing something about it i got nothing!! because ders so much time money energy to invest which seems impossible to us in our daily lives! n yea i always feel we should “do” .. i never went for 26/11 candle marches.. not even one of it.. not because i dont care.. i used to read up on evry article possible n like every other citizen i followed it on tv n cried too.. but me not going for the march doesn’t mean i don’t i just don’t believe in the concept.. coz at the end of it m not gonna feel like i actually did something.. that’s what i believe.. not that m against candle march..

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