It’s an amazing thing – like most other systems of belief, it is powerful, inspiring and terrifying all at once.
Don’t think it’s a “belief”? But it is, it’s believing in a cause, in an ideal, in something greater than you and all the people in your life. It’s something to rally behind and to fight for (or peacefully resist for, whatever you like!), something that can unite – but like any belief, it can just as easily divide people when lines are drawn.
These are very real matter being debated all over the world and more so as awareness and the ability to interact with more people spreads, but I wanted to focus on something on the good side of the patriotic debate.
This past weekend was Independance Day here in India. It’s a big deal as you can imagine, lots and lots of coverage and brouhaha to be found all over the place. The thing is though, I’ve never really been a patriotic person per-se, but I’m not radically opposed to being a patriot and proud of where you come from and all. So when I was asked by a local website to contribute to an article where they asked local writers, etc, from the comics and animation field about their thoughts on and about the day itself and what it means, it got me thinking and the following is what I came up with:
What does Independence Day mean to me… that’s a hard question to answer. At its most basic it is a day to celebrate not simply “throwing off the foreign yolk” or “India for Indians” or something like that. Those things are important and critical to where the day came from – but what the day ideally should be and what I like to think off is that it’s the day an idea was born.
India had many freedom fighters and many varied movements, but it was that of Mahatma Gandhi that took deep roots and won in the end.
Not violence, but peace. Not anger, but forgiveness. Not exclusion, but inclusion. Not belief, but an open mind.
The ideas of the man we revere as Mahatma (which basically means “Enlightened soul“) were powerful but those who supported his ideals were like a mother struggling to give birth and when independence came, the starting point of so much of what we became from then was the ideas of the Mahatma being born into this world. It was the day an independent new kind of nation stepped blinking into the light and took its first steps, full of hope and idealism for a better future for all.
In today’s circumstances, the following quote is my favourite because I see us struggling with these ideals and coming dangerously close to failing in most of them because of our prejudices, fixations, irrational systems and backward thinking.
“The roots of violence: Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, politics without principles.” – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Never stop learning and keeping an open mind.
The world we inhabit is a shockingly small place that at first seems so very big, and life seems so long but is painfully shorter than we realize until it’s often too late.
Embrace learning, openness, kindness, humanity and never stop trying to be happy and enjoy the things you have, while you have them. Be grateful for what you are while you strive to be better and never regret the roads untaken because what is past is past. All that truly matters is the road ahead and the past is nothing but the book to remember and learn from so that you do not repeat mistakes, yours or anyone else’s.