Collective for what? Humility and compassion is the need of time

compassion hands

In the recent past we have seen enough of riots, trolling and devaluation of others in the name of collectivity. Nothing is like groups emancipation and collectivity if it is used for degradation and humiliation of others. Emotion which pleases us when others are suffering is dehumanizing. In the time of pandemic, there is a doubling of humanity crisis, both in terms of class divides in getting medical help and political leadership crisis in being humble, compassionate and taking responsibility. Sometimes social change seems to be a sceptic phrase. What should I learn from history, as after all history was not black and white but as colourful as it is today? Social divides, hatred, wars, genocide went side by side with love, compassion and humility. But who became successful in the zeitgeists, what impacted the people’s socialization and what will be it like? I find myself incapable of seeing the past, everyday life and discourse, people relationship, caring and solidarity except what I see in the colourful life of today. If I say colourful, I neither ignored the colour of the blood, which symbolizes humanity as ingroup or killing in the name of hatred, nor I ignored white which symbolized peace and not superiority of race. What I become more confident of is the spirit which moved humanity forward, leadership of people who died for humanity and love and children whose innocence and ignorance of hatred and colour made the world look pleasant and humane.

Social change for me doesn’t lie in ‘what should be’ and in ‘conditions’ but acceptance and compassion. The will to be humble and compassionate has more density then in any other program. We don’t need policies to be humane and sharing but our will to see the world from the eyes of the powerless. Seeing the world in this way may renounce our ego, enhance our collective will to be humble and compassionate. For me history may be in the present, but that present is also constructed by the geometry of power structure. Like a child who never cared for his ego but to explore whatever comes in her way is also a human nature. This is the compassion towards the uneven, unfamiliar and novel. That is also a part of history and has the potential to become meaningful. However, history with all its colour portrayed as black and white, systematic and prosaic. Isn’t the strive for social change needed to bring out the history from its limitations? One may contest that history is not the same for all where some are documented, and some are not. This undocumented part as we will or strive towards understanding come out with the colourful imagination of history. In the times of crisis, we have witnessed the collective will of people to directly feel the plights of others and here this boundary between one’s self and other become permeable to the extent one becomes the other and vice versa. From where it comes? Evolutionary theory limits itself to altruism and survival of the member of one species sharing the gene, but this is not the case always and something beyond the boundaries happen. This is humanity, which is all-encompassing, and goes beyond all the entrenchments. We bring back our humanity to the right place. This is a collective humility, collective humbleness and collective compassion. Collectivity doesn’t get limited by the repetitions of group-based hatred but it also a process of re-joining what was separated as ingroup and outgroup. Collectivity is not that shallow. The big picture of collectivity always comes in our mind, we become involved with the plight of others, sacrifice ourselves to help others. The only thing is to remove the sufferings of others and feel delighted with our inner jam, which is incessant, which was always there. All other collectivity is artificial, surface level denial of the fact of humanity which we are already programmed.

Why not then to accept that I am wrong as a leader, why not to commit that I was wrong in choosing the wrong leader? This compassion and humility to renounce, accept and believing that we have the potential to surrender is not cowardly but liberating. To be contrite is also an adoption of a path towards change. What is cowardice is not to accept that one is wrong whose politics has affected the people’s life and at the same time fear of losing once hardwired image, which most of the time is falsely created and imposed. The true spirit of being compassionate is to keep humanity at first which may also help in losing one’s false sense of self. This is not collectivity when one lives in the false image because it disconnects with the truth. The question is where we locate ourselves: among books, people, noises, solitude or in mimesis?

What is it like to be a human being? This is a question which doesn’t have a simple answer. We humans are also accumulated beings. It doesn’t mean that we are accumulated equally but there are differences. There are differences of experiences, history, classes, oppressions, humiliations and so on. Our desires are also construed accordingly with what doesn’t add in our expectations and demands. Does our ability to be humble and compassionate also coloured by the history of something missing things and incomplete? Do our leaders fulfil our mission to seek something which we miss or long for? What if we don’t get what we want? What can the leader do? So many questions which don’t have perfect answers. Our everyday experience shows, if we are keen to know, that missing pictures, incompleteness and ambiguity takes over our life. However, it also shows that we talk about missing only in the comparative context. Missing something is an extension, a linear path, on which we walked and covered some distance, leaving behind the past, added to the memories, forgotten, retrieved, and moved forward. Above all on the path we never lost our ability to be compassionate but our false image, over emphasized something which we want and missed out the point on which we stand which gives us the sense of identity with every step, connected to something which is eternal as humanity. This is the collectivity we all engage with despite our incompleteness.

Chetan Sinha, O.P. Jindal Global University



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