Sometimes, I think the words ‘person’ and ‘people’ are too small. Maybe if they were each fifteen characters long, we could better appreciate the weight of them. Maybe then, idiots would call you out for using “heavy words” to substitute for an argument. Maybe then, wars would never happen because each life is too precious to sacrifice in the name of resources.
We are all ten feet tall effigies of ourselves. We are more than we are able to show, despite the effort spent in carefully constructing profiles on online media. These bodies of flesh and bone struggle to contain us. Perhaps that is why we lash out in anger or frustration or pain – we are tired from being bound and constrained in a space too small to hold us.
What I’m trying to say is that it is an unrecorded tragedy that one spends their entire life exploring themselves, and are unable to display it in all its glory and beauty, and that it is a tragedy that one is so fixated with showcasing themselves, that they cannot explore their own beauty and truth. Two branches of thought arise here.
The first, I am an effigy of myself – I burn myself out for the viewing pleasure of others. Others burn me too with torches and words. In turn, together we burn them too. It’s a give-and-take process of destructive sampling, pulling each other like a rubber band to see how far it can go before it snaps.
Instead of helping each other find beauty and truth together, and basking in the warmth of elevating another person and inspiring them to unlock a slight portion of their potential, we are too busy leapfrogging each other, acting like crabs in a barrel, pulling each other down for whatever excuse of self-importance we can come up with.
The second, I am ten feet tall. I am more than a chef and a writer. More than a moody, hyperactive child. You are ten feet tall or taller, more than a reader, more than a blue-collar worker, creator, designer, teacher, doctor, cyclist, musician.
You and I are canvases that are filled up over years and years of hard work. Beautiful bright colours in some places, tasteful black in others. Happy and sad colours make up the foreground and background of the canvas, like happy and sad experiences make up our lives. We should accept both as intrinsic parts of who we are. One is worthless without the other, and the other is unbearable without the one.
Coming back to the significance and weight of people, it is alarming and appalling, if you think about it, how little we value the sanctity of life. We really don’t. To us, there is no sanctity of life; we’re ready to kill each other over any excuse – what colour our skin is, what is between our legs, what imaginary friend we support, what language we speak, whether we found insults humourous or not!
Maybe it is simply a case of taking for granted what you have, like we do with our parents. There are so many people in the world, we often don’t care if a few thousand go away. Especially in a country like India, overflowing with people, some people go around looking for fights.
A very important reason we take each other for granted is because we’re conditioned to do so. Institutions and Governments recognize people by numbers – UIDs, PAN, Passport, Driver’s license – They are all numbers. Even if they contain letters, those are just numbers too, it’s just in a numeric system larger than decimal.
Numbers are beautiful in their own right. Numbers are simple and logical and make up everything. But they are also impersonal. By assigning a number to a person, we convert them into statistics. We make people easier to deal with, which is something banks, governments and schools need to do, but it conditions people to convert other people into statistics too.
“7 people dead in air crash” – Who were they? What were their lives about? What about their dreams, ambitions, interests, little habits and quirks? Where do those go? We are too conditioned to statistics, and to not care about these things because it is overwhelming and tiring to process even a portion, a fraction of a human life.
Maybe I’m being too high-handed. Maybe I’m taking things too seriously.
Then again, maybe not. If you think so, make the little effort. Open up Facebook and talk to some old friends, ask them how they are. Tell your loved ones you appreciate them. Let the awkwardness hang in the air, and convert it to warmth. Use cute Facebook stickers in chat and force that awkwardness into mushy gooey happiness. Don’t let them be statistics – just 1 in your x number of friends on your list.
Thank you for reading. 🙂
This is part 1 of a 3 part series. Read part 2 here – Growth and Individuality.