Tsering is a young girl from Lamayuru whose family has shifted to Leh in search of better prospects. Although she is handling the management of one of the high end hotels in Leh, she wants to do more. She kept telling me that we, in the cities, have it better because there are many choices.
It is perhaps the same reason why I also shifted from the capital town of one of the poorest states to Delhi after school and it is perhaps why so many people from our country and other developing or under-developed countries have shifted to relatively developed countries. For better prospects, for better lifestyles. In fact, all of us are constantly moving towards that since ‘better’ is always relative. So given the fact that we are surely hurtling towards some sort of ‘calamity’, can we really begrudge others from getting what we have got? Surely everybody has a right to a better life. Even though I love to see pristine nature and communities following traditional lifestyles, can I really begrudge these mountain people better roads and amenities? Even though I know that like the bad ecological footprints we have left in our pursuit of better prospects, they eventually will too, can I really begrudge a village family wanting good jobs for their children?
In all honesty, I cannot. It is not fair until the last under-privileged person gets to know what ‘better’ life is for him or herself. In fact the process of change had started since humans made the first tools and the wheel and it will not stop till this last person gets what he or she feels is a better prospect. We might destroy ourselves as a specie in the process and might come back to re-inhabit the planet but this will keep on happening endlessly. Because that’s how we humans currently are.
That is, till the time we can Redefine ourselves and lose our identity. The ‘I’ that is in search of ‘better’ prospects, ‘better’ lifestyles because this ‘I’ is always relative to ‘others’, always comparing. This ‘I’ always feels the need to stand out – an independent woman, a feminist, a neo-liberal, a Buddhist, a minority, a known poet, a famous writer, a comedian, an activist, a husband, a ceo, a global strategist, a much loved speaker, a mountaineer, a trekker, a wildlife expert, a better house, many cars and the list can go on.
What happens when we stop listening to the artificial cacophony created by all these ‘I’s, the cacophony that we are all so lost in? Perhaps then we can hear the sounds of nature, our Earth and know that we are just one of many species. Perhaps we need to learn to quieten down and listen before the Earth falls silent. Perhaps we need to listen to ourselves more and know that there is really no existence of an ‘I’. And perhaps then we can have an Earth where we are we and not always searching for something or somebody ‘better’.
Shikhshantar in Udaipur is an Unlearning Centre. Founder / Head, Manish Jain likes to question everything that we have currently chosen as society to follow. Even Maths. But he propagates three key steps in order to change oneself – Scale down, Slow Down and Learn to Listen.
5waraj is an organization based in Delhi which likes looking back at our roots, our traditions and customs in order to find solutions to current issues or lifestyles. One can find them at www.5waraj.in or FB page with same name.