The nuances and multiplicities of disciplines discussed on the Day 1 of the THINK festival was stimulating most on this particular count. I mean the last time I found myself amidst any pursuit of subjects as diverse as mathematics, ecology, internet, society was perhaps only in school.
The one thought shared at the festival which kept playing back in my mind was what the neuroscientist, Daniel Wolpert mentioned about ‘beliefs’ must translate into ‘actions’. It set me conjecturing about the core of the festival – ‘think’ and if the thinking will empower me into challenging status quo in some way.
I ‘believe’ in the Swamis who are willing to give their lives to preserve the purity of Ganga, I ‘believe’ in the ecologist who says there can’t be only a few people branded as environmentalists, all of us need to be one, I ‘believe’ that large pockets of our nation are victims of politics of repression.
And yet I sense a strong sense of apathy and indifference within, which stalls me from feeling the pain in a deep, compassionate way. Even with real people talking about real tragedies, the physical distance between them on the stage and me in the audience is somehow symbolic of the distance that I experience within, from them and their realities. I applaud in delight on their triumphs and feel teary at their agonizing experiences, at times almost as if I was watching cinema. When I step out of the hall, general life and mostly its petty concerns take over and after some self gratifying discussions and exchanging of notes with friends, most of it dissipates. I fear sensing the same pattern at play even when those experiences are not fictional.
So, I am left a bit confused and upset about how while I am able to ‘think’, I am unable to ‘feel’. Is it because my ‘beliefs’ are based on relatively frail foundation of recently acquired ‘data’ and not solid grounds of personal experience or memory of injustice or deprivation? Does the mundane nature of my middle class experience rob me of ability to think beyond ‘urgent’ to that which is ‘important’? Is the choice always between being the hero or the commoner? Life they say is not about any singular reality but about multiple realities. Which one should I live? Transcending beyond ‘what should I make for dinner’ (micro) to reflecting on how many in our country go without one (macro) seems herculean.
When ‘Personal’ is so diverse, can it feed into a shared ‘Political?
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