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Fear, Begone!

By: Salini Johnson, India

It is written in white on an olive green background board erected at Nathula Pass, traversing the Old Silk Route, that, “Sleep peacefully at your homes, Indian Army is guarding the frontiers”. The first time I saw this, instead of feeling reassured, I was perplexed. Why should we be scared of our neighbours? Granted that there are physical, cultural and geographical differences between various groups of people living in varied regions of the globe, but these are purely evolutionary variations. In essence, we are all made of flesh and blood and, as far as a rational mind can see, we all are children of Mother Earth meant to coexist peacefully. Then why is Man so intent on securing his ‘borders’ day and night?

The shortest answer to this question would be ‘fear’. Aristotle once wisely said, “Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil.” Over centuries, mankind has forgotten to feel true fraternity. Our eyes have turned blind to who our true brothers are. If the colour of the skin of a fellow being is not the same as ours, we demarcate our land from theirs and proudly proclaim the divide as our ’border’. Then under the pretext of granting him the title of our ‘esteemed neighbour’, we single him out as our enemy. We are scared of what our neighbour is about to do. Similarly seeing us conniving against him, this poor fellow too gets scared. In the end, we eye each other as potential foes in private while we exchange handshakes and sugar-coated words in public. As time and technology progress, we build complex defence equipments to ‘defend’, even if the poor of our nations are starving to death by the minute.

We would go to any extent to guard our ‘borders’ against impending attacks – commission great scientific minds to split atoms when they ought to be eradicating the nation’s food crisis; form the armed forces, one each for land, water and air, and so on. We devise more and more such imprudent plans and set aside a chunk of our revenue as ‘defence expenditure’. It is as if we are restraining ourselves from being friendly to one’s own friend. All this hard work accomplish nothing but in aiding to mount up the tension, until one day it reaches its zenith and the most disgusting trait of humankind reveals itself in the form of War. In War, a man finds himself unable to recognize one of his own. He revels in destruction and despair until finally, he is forced to wave the white flag and beg for peace. The same man, who did not think twice about pulling the trigger on his brethren, now laments his lost dear ones in the aftermath of his own brainchild, War.

Oh! There’s more as the ordeal does not end here. Over the years, we have become adept at jailing people who stray over to ‘our’ country. One step over the invisible, man-made ‘border’ and you are in for a lifetime. One night, Sarabjit Singh, an Indian farmer who lived in a village near the India-Pakistan border, wandered off accidentally in a drunken haze to the other nation’s territory. He was captured, tried and sentenced to death which he and his family assert is a case of mistaken identity. Anyway he has been under solitary confinement in the Kot Lakhpat prison in Lahore for the last twenty years and still is. This is only an instance from thousands of people of one nation languishing in the dingy prison cells of another nation and vice versa. Simultaneously, on a different level altogether, glasses are chinked together after diplomatic talks and round table conferences to toast for a friendship that exists only on paper. These so-called talks and dialogues are doled out at plush venues from time to time with no tangible results to show. After all, what do they know of an agonizing lifetime devastated by years of incarceration endured between the pressing walls of a prison cell? The fact that we, the youth care about these precious lives withering away in prisons, irrespective of their nationality, is the greatest message we can convey to the leaders of the world.

Why can’t we for once accept the fact that we all are one? Now it is the reign of ‘me, myself and I’ and our mindsets simply refuse to accommodate another individual, let alone another nation. Fear has got the better of us. Even while doing something, our one eye keeps track of what our neighbour is up to. Our insecurity and fear have destroyed too many and too much. Numerous invaluable lives have been laid in our country’s name. But when we accept the World as our nation, amity among all is bestowed. Then there would no longer be unreasonable fear stalking us in our dreams, no more lives to be perished and no more Borders and Wars. But to attain all these we need to love our neighbours as we love ourselves, as our Holy texts have preached since time immemorial. As the French writer Anais Nin has said, “Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of withering, of tarnishing.” These words have beautifully captured the path to redemption for mankind and it is up to us to do the rest.

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Written By: Salini Johnson, India who is an undergraduate student of English Language and Literature at Govt. College for Women, Trivandrum under the University of Kerala, India.

She was the KVS National Topper in Humanities in Class XII , 2010-2011.

This article is a contest entry in the “ Your Message to the World Contest” conducted by  Opptunity.. Inspiring youth! (http://www.opptunity.com/ymtw-2011/).

You can leave a comment on the article page http://www.opptunity.com/ymtw-2011/2011/11/fear-begone/

(As per the competition selection guidelines, 80% weightage goes to the average of marks given by all judges across different metrics, while 20% marks will go to the popularity index of an article.)

So, if you like the article, visit http://www.opptunity.com/ymtw-2011/2011/11/fear-begone/  and post a comment.

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Filed under: Article of the Week, , , ,

“The First Impression”

Once again the month of June is here and the first thing that
 
comes to our mind is the tiny tots starting school, in fact
 
acquainting with their second home. The sight of several kids
 
coming to school clad in brand new uniforms and clutching just-out-
 
of-the-box school bags with an apparent innocence of ignorance
 
etched on their faces is indeed curious to watch. As the rains are
 
about to pour down not in the least dampening the spirits of those
 
starters at school, a stream of memories of my own first day at
 
school(which is not my present one) cascade back.
 
            
 
          Having spent my early childhood in nursery schools and
 
crèches, I never had the feeling of starting afresh when I entered
 
the wrought-iron gates of a Convent school which was to be my
 
alma mater. Unlike my counterparts who wore a look of utter
 
strangeness on their faces, I felt nothing different except wearing a
 
uniform. We were asked to be seated and then started the show of
 
the day! All my friends-to-be began crying loudly refusing to leave
 
their parent’s side. I watched all these proceedings silently and
 
eventually got to be the model kid whom other parents pointed out
 
to keep their wards quiet. Soon after, my new teacher joined us.
 
           
 
          As time flew, the smiling face of our teacher, the sweets she
 
gave and having familiarized with each other, we all made
 
ourselves at home. The bell rang shrilly for the break. As I finished
 
the snacks I brought, it started to drizzle, gaining strength after
 
each minute. I felt as if the rain was beckoning and suddenly,
 
without thinking twice, I found myself enjoying the first drops of rain
 
of that month. From a distance I made out the figure of my teacher
 
pursuing me in my wild attempt. Sensing danger, I ran for the
 
school garage nearby. As my teacher approached, I had already
 
climbed halfway one of the long poles supporting the bus shed.
 
She negotiated with me to come down using threatening words.
 
Having failed, she got a grip on my pink and white checked frock.
 
The rest happened in the fraction of a second. Undoubtedly, the
 
stitch of my frock at the waist gave way and I slid down the pole in
 
a jiffy. I followed my teacher to the class without a word. All the
 
time, my classmates who were dangling from the window bars and
 
some of them with fingers in their mouths resembled orangutans in
 
a  zoo.                                   
 
           
 
          In the evening, teacher narrated all the goings-on of that day
 
vividly to my father, making my fears come true. Reaching home, I
 
received a good telling-off from my father, with my eyes downcast
 
in the backdrop of absolute muteness. This put an end to the
 
exhilarating and emotional events of my initial day at school.

Salini Johnson,

Class: X-A,
 

Filed under: Creative Corner,

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