Acknowledging despair when we ought to be hopeful!

Hope has been one of my favourite words. I felt that it’s Hope that keeps the world running. And I still hope that I am right about hope. But lately, I have also started to feel that despondency has its place. We have been so strongly conditioned to be positive, to fight everything that every time we feel fear or hopeless, something within, or someone outside raises an alarm. It’s constantly impressed upon us through advertisements, messaging, conversations, movies etc to rise, to not be hopeless, to believe that things will get better, to work. We are bombarded with stories about so-called Almighty humans, who can cross any the walls, can fight all the barriers. We celebrate this human so much that we have taken away all humaneness from it. We don’t even want to stop to look from where is the feeling of hopelessness arising. What is it that it is trying to tell. We have labelled feelings as positive and negative when all they are are just sensations, an energy that an individual feels in different circumstances. They just tell you about what’s going on, it’s your bodies intelligence, feelings is your body conversing with you. But what do we do? As soon we sense fear, we run scared, not out of fear, but to curb it. We don’t like to feel fearful, so rather than acknowledging what is it that the fear is saying, we start calling up friends, or go to Insta, turn on Netflix or pick up any one of the thousand mechanisms we have developed to avoid, curb fear, despair.

Looking at my own life, I found that I have been so strongly conditioned to not feel sad, to not behave emotionally, that every time I am faced with despair, I just feel guilty for being sad, guilty for being emotional, guilty for not being cheerful. When I look at the current state of affairs, I do feel hopeless. My mind questions what are we really doing? Does my work, all the virtues, do they matter? I don’t understand the fabric of my own being, when there are children dying of hunger, I can still eat peacefully. I can shell out a small 1000 Rs and go back to my work feeling that what else can I do. When I look at Facebook, I see my friends debating whether the government did a good job or a bad job. What could have been done? And some of these are NRIs who left the country to make their already good lives better. And I feel such a deep sense of horror reading these comments, how insensitive have we all become. Everything is news to us. A food to thought as our tables and tummies are fortunately full.

We are still talking about what could have been done better, without ourselves taking one courageous step to change anything. Is Facebook the only place to show what you believe in?

In the midst of these senseless, armchair debate, I sense another problem. Patriarchy, male chauvinism, insensitivity so deeply seated. I used to believe that we are much more equal society, but reading comments of my male friends, I feel how they don’t even realise that their comments are biased, their behaviour towards opposite gender is biased. They simply call a completely wonderful argument ill-informed just because it was made by a woman. More than anguish I feel despair at such audacity. How are we really raising our boys?

All I am saying is we have become really insensitive, blind and hypocrites.

We are debating about worldly issues when we have so many of our own which we haven’t looked at. We are talking about migrant workers, hunger, policies, when what we are really bothered is about our own raise, our own jobs, EMIs on our cars. And I am not here blaming anyone, all I am saying is we have become really insensitive, blind and hypocrites. Maybe this will not change immediately, but can all of us look within, at our own actions, our words.

Can we try to acknowledge our insensitivities?

I want to acknowledge that I feel a deep sense of despair; I feel nothing I do has any point. And I was fighting this emotion for a past week after we successfully finished a small virtual unconference on June 2. And just a few moments back, the voice of a friend, I made recently echoed in my ears. It said, it’s okay to feel hopeless, it’s just fine to feel sad. What is really wrong with that?

When he said this first 6 months back, I was perplexed. A 27-year-old who has been told all her life that happiness is the virtue, it’s something you should strive for, never knew how to deal with sadness, how to even acknowledge it. I still don’t know. I am still figuring it out.

Though all I am reminded of is, feeling hopeless is okay. It brings in perspective, it helps you embrace a problem, it helps you make a choice whether to fight a problem rather than an automated pre-fed response to fight it. It makes your actions more thoughtful. It makes you humane at the least, where you can say that Yes, I don’t know what to do, I am afraid and I am still figuring out.

It paves the way for informed hope!