I listened to the frightfully articulate Resmaa Manakem on his On Being podcast yesterday. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Many threads of my personal journey are beginning to be woven into the landscape of the larger political canvas of our very existence. It’s becoming loud and clear to me that the person is deeply political, seeing as how it is a journey of clarifying my person values. I cannot shy away from this anymore. And that truth gets a little more cemented every day.
This past week, being up close helping with the movement of migrants — sourcing and delivering food and other essentials — realising in how many ways we have actually failed our society, I have really had to look at economic and caste Inequality and Inequity, the very fragmented shards of our broken, broken system right in the eyes.
What’s hit me the hardest is that these are lives (thousands and thousands of them everyday, just wanting to get home) and yet everything about the process, every step of the way forgets and negates that basic fact. The scenes at one of the many hubs around the city where migrants are being registered and organised to get on to the Shramik trains leaving the city, are nothing short of refugee camps. And seeing it all has made my heart heavy. Really heavy.
This is just Bangalore. I think of other cities, other hubs, other states, and the scale of our collective failure as a country is too much to digest. Everyday is excruciating, and the only thing giving me energy and hope in the mind-blowing coming together of communities in Bangalore that I have witnessed. This is something I am quick to forget. It’s easy, when all we see and consume is a steady diet of bad news, high on shock and horror.
I’ve had to come to terms with just how deeply systemic, cultural and utterly entwined divisiveness, subjugation and heartlessness is. Because of the work I do, cognitively I can pin this to trauma. My brain knows this, but my mind and my heart just won’t have it. I want and expect better of human beings. And yet, the reality is something else.
The podcast is a fantastic listen. For anyone interested in a shockingly accurate perspective of what’s going on in the world — and really this lies at the heart if every kind of inequality. Resmaa’s words speak right to this truth.
Trauma decontextualized in a person looks like personality.
Trauma decontextualized in a family looks like family traits.
Trauma in a people looks like culture.
When you begin to look at healing a “thousand-year-old” trauma of a people, you’ll see how it is mirrored right down to the traumas faced by individuals, at the level of the personality. And there’s hope when I see it that way.
He is fantastically clear, speaks powerful words without mincing them. He speaks of Race, but he could very well be speaking of Caste, our very own thousand-year-old collective trauma. And that’s what touched me the most. The universality of What Hurts, What’s Broken. And I hesitate to write this because there is so much talk about taking away space from Black Lives right now. I don’t mean to take away space at all. I know absolutely nothing about that fight, to even try. But I also see commonality, and in that way, what’s going on across the planet also hurts me.
It’s been an emotionally heavy couple of weeks and I see how it has reflected in my writing here. I used to feel a bit apologetic about that, and even express it here from time to time. But one thing that’s become very clear for me very, very recently is that healing involves leaning in more into what hurts. And this blog is a space where I will be doing that.
Like Resmaa says;
Notice the rage. Notice the silence.
The podcast too, reiterated that for me. There is no looking away form the discomfort and hurt of where we are as a race. We can begin to heal by looking at ourselves. The personal, is political. We are a traumatized lot, and because we don’t want to stop to heal, we continue to pass it on. And because we are a delicately balanced lot, existing in a precarious system of inequalities, we’re always retraumatizing the most disenfranchised amongst us, making them relive the worst atrocities, every single day.
Closer home, we really can’t talk about Development without talking about healing, without doing the work to own up to and re-contextualizing this trauma. And I realise how bloody far away we are from that. These are truly dark ages. This past week I certainly felt like we have regressed, slipped further below, dragged ourselves backwards as a nation.
Give the podcast a listen. It’s essential for every human being, I’d say.