The evolving face of involvement written by Nadia Genevieve D'Rozario

on 09/06/2011 - 03:23 am
What egged me on to penning my thoughts on this is how I see people changing in today’s socio-political scenario…we no longer wait for decisions to be made for us or stand as old Hindi movies would portray: bystanders to grave injustices. We get involved.

What’s brought about this change? A combination of factors to my understanding…the age old ‘chalta hai’ Indian mentality has long been abolished since the new face of media and entertainment where press has become opinionated (to my disdain…this is supposed to be an unbiased media…yet emotions and sensationalization run galore)…and movies that push people to act as you would in a true democracy. The youth of today is vastly impressionable and even more informed than a decade ago…you have the social media boom with Twitter and Facebook in the forefront to thank for this. We no longer have to wait to hear about news and then sign petitions, etc. to have a voice. Social media is THE VOICE.

This all leads me to ask myself…Is this a good thing though? It has its pros and cons. Take current anti-corruption movements for example…it pressurizes parties in power to take into consideration the public view and move faster towards a positive change rather than 40 years later. However, we must understand that no matter what, we must also abstain trying to take power into our own hands…else what would make us any different from extremist groups or barbaric civilizations. We do have the power to speak up and to voice our concerns…but we mustn’t arm twist authorities for a minute of fame…after all…these were people we elected…and we are as much to blame indirectly about their wrong decisions.

I saw a lot of exchange on my social media timelines about how the political parties are pathetic, etc. We however, should first question ourselves and then question them. If you have a problem with the condition of roads…have you worked towards getting a substantial database of complaints and submitted to the local authorities or voiced your issues to the media for representation? If you have for your respective issues, done all you could at your end…with your grievances going unanswered, your aggravation is understandable. If you haven’t (which is the case with most people), it is unfair for you to suddenly wake up one day and complain about your issues being thrown to deaf ears when you haven’t even articulated your message yet!

How then do we make a difference? Start at the grass root levels. We must accept that if a change has to come about in the political scenario and if we are to have the power to affect the change, we too must have made a significant contribution to society. The harsh reality is that no matter how educated or opinionated we are, just holding a steady job, supporting one’s family and posting opinions on our Facebooks or Twitter isn’t going to change much. It at maximum will get people thinking…which is a first step…but what good is a world full of thinkers and non-doers. Ask yourself, what am I doing myself to improve the standard of living of my community, my town, my city, my country?

You see litter, start a cleaning drive and get people to sign up for it. Approach media so it gets noticed…once they talk about it…chances are that local municipalities will get more involved. You see children on the street begging…DON’T hand out money…that’s always the easy way out. Chances are…they won’t even get the money for their well-being. Instead, walk them to a restaurant, feed them a meal and buy them a set of clothes. It won’t just be the fact that they have gotten free stuff…but also the fact that you stayed with them for more than a minute and took time out to get to know them. And that, might just positively affect them for life. Get involved in movements. I have to mention this movement because it’s something that changed my outlook on a lot of things. A friend of mine, Roshini Davidson, introduced me to “Street Smart” in Bangalore. I met these street children on weekends in a shelter and we would teach them a different skill (art, etc.) every time we met them. Needless to say, their spirit broadened my perspective on life…I’ll never forget them, and, I’m sure, the feeling is mutual.

These are just two examples of what you can do. Here are a few things I live by:
Don’t throw away money at charities, etc. There is more gratification with actually getting involved. Sponsor a child’s education for a year or feed a kid for day. You know then that you are affecting a change, and the feeling is empowering.
Start drives to improve the infrastructure in your society. Remember always that negativity only invites more negativity. Show a positive change, get the media involved and your movement for sure will not go unnoticed. Chances are, you’ll initiate a pay-it-forward.
Get involved with politics. This is no small feat. I wouldn’t suggest for anyone to get involved unless they have a sound education and financial stability before trying out. It may sound like words in the air right now, but with the pressure and temptation once you enter the field, these are the things that will matter the most.
Contribute to education. If you have writing skills, use your talent! Write articles and chapters in government textbooks that will once a child reads and studies it, get them thinking. Publish themed calendars, etc. and collect the proceeds to help with funding any social causes you’d directly like contributing to.

These are just a few, however, I hope that my rantings have gotten you thinking. As I said…it’s a first step.