I haven’t been to India but it affects me so much now than any foreign country in the world. It affects me so much that I wanted to weep due to another damning news about one of many unresolved social issues in the country: gang rape.
Last night, when I heard about the news, several conflicting thoughts came to my mind – the horrible experience the girls had suffered from (which they haven’t survived), the anguish their parents would feel, the utter lack of respect for life, the authority’s lax treatment of the issue. Add to it the emotions that each thought stirred in me that I felt as if both my head and heart would burst.
But it was the anguish I felt over the matter that had left me sleep deprived last night. Both the girls’ awful fate, and their aggressors inhuman act, broke my heart.
“How could they?”
“How could they?”
I kept asking myself, but the more I asked, the more my head ached.
So I tried what I usually do when I can’t seem to calm my mind. I prayed.
I tried praying for the two girls, that they may rest in peace despite their horrible death. But I failed. I didn’t even finish what I started. The anger I felt towards the girls’ aggressors overpowered my resolve. I slept with a headache and my heart broken, as a result.
In the morning, when I woke up, it was still on my thoughts, nagging at me, as if telling me not to dismiss it as easily as I did with other social issues because there’s nothing I could do about it. I am merely an outsider what can I do? Nothing.
Or so I thought, until I started writing what I felt about it. I can’t contain it; I have to write about it to release the burden I am feeling inside, and, hopefully, encourage everyone to voice theirs, too.
Collective efforts always gain better results when it comes to influencing public opinion, more so in raising awareness about issues that are fundamental in making a peaceful and orderly society. Hence, it counts that we voice out our opinion about the society that we belong to, and the societies that make us connected to one another.
It may not be a problem in my country, but I am not letting it keep me from making my voice heard. Respect for human life is a trait that should be fundamental to all of us, but apparently the girls’ aggressors, and those who had assaulted other girls in India through the same means, don’t get it. And, for me, that’s where the problem lies.
The Indian authorities are no different from the aggressors. They, too, have taken their part un making this happen not only once but thrice.
A person does not have to be well-educated to be kind or compassionate. He neither had to belong to a great nation to practice respect for human life. A person’s economic or social status should not even be a basis for the kind of respect he deserves to get. Every human being ought to live with dignity whether he or she is rich, or poor, or whatnot.
Thus, I dare say it’s too much. It’s damning and frightening and frustrating all at the same time. I can’t stand it anymore watching innocent girls succumb to futile death. It’s too much, especially if I keep being silent about it.
Collective prayers can do wonders, too. In literature, Nick Joaquin, a Filipino National artist, provides a succinct example of it. Here are excerpts from his book, Tropical Gothic:
But though he held it, though he relaxed his will, though he surrendered himself to dying – he could not die. Something seemed to stop him, to hold him back. He was not alone. The night was alive with presences. And with clairvoyance of the dying, he knew what they were: people out in the world were praying for him.
And the poor Currito, though desiring intensely to die, found himself unable to do so, for the whole world seemed to have gathered around him, in choir upon choir of soft voices; determined to prevent him from dying.
If you’re not used to praying to a God, or don’t believe in the existence of such, a whispered prayer – that we tend to make to wish someone the best of luck before a competition begins, or to take care when someone is about to embark on a journey to a distant land – may also work. The hope we put in it holds enough power to harness the universe’s positive forces and direct it to people that need some uplifting or some light.
Besides, praying for other people makes us practice compassion. It allows us to get over ourselves – our personal woes, care and concerns and start thinking of other peoples’ needs, even if it is done in silence.
Let’s pray for India, like what other countries did for the Philippines when major calamities hit our country last year.
Keep safe, everyone.