Life in a Bubble
By Devyanshi Gairola
As one grows up, the holes that exist in our knowledge of the world start to fill up. We didn’t even know that these holes existed until we started filling them, first unconsciously, and then consciously. We will continue to fill these holes for the majority of our lifetimes. Some of us will be better at it and try to speed up the process, and some will not like being exposed to new knowledge and will try to hinder the process by simply closing our eyes and ears. Those who choose not to shut down their senses will turn out to be more understanding and compassionate (unlike those who do the opposite).
Most of us grow up in a bubble. It is a bubble of protection as well as ignorance. A lot of us went to private schools, were surrounded by people who came from the same backgrounds as us and adopted their ideologies and worldview. We were naive enough to believe that their life experience was representative of everyone’s life experience. Even though we knew that issues like class conflict, sexism, racism, religious conflicts and so on existed, we didn’t think that they were truly real; that they weren’t issues that affected the so-called ‘modern’ human. It is easy to believe these things when you live at home, and when academic achievement is prioritised over being a decent, aware or well-read person. It is easy to believe that conflict does not exist, and wars are the stuff of history books, that riots and revolts only happen in faraway nations ruled by people like Kim Jong-un and Adolf Hitler. Who is to be blamed for this bubble’s existence? Is it our parents and the society that claim they were trying to either protect us from the cruelties of the real world or keep us focused on our academic work? Is it our education system that fails to incorporate peace education and awareness about real social, political and global affairs, or our school curriculum? Or is it us, willingly remaining aloof from the world and its realities until it is shoved down our throats by adult life?
The world is not a garden of roses. The only way to expand one’s knowledge of this world is to sit down, listen and truly open their eyes. When you do this, you’ll find that everyone out there is leading a life of struggle, and facing some sort of conflict in their everyday life. There are people who belong to different economic classes who are not able to afford the same things as you. There are people who use local transport instead of cabs and personal cars because they can’t afford those. There are people who face sexual harassment and sexual assault regularly. There are those who face physical and emotional abuse at home. There are people who face casteism and endure casteist slurs and assault due to their caste every day. There are people who have endured interfaith conflicts ever since they were born, who get ridiculed and abused for practising their faith. There are people who are war refugees in foreign countries, and people who are refugees in their own countries. And countless stories of people who endure strife, conflict and adversity in their day to day lives. A bubble bursts every time you meet one of these people; people who are not like you, whose problems don’t end with finding a job, who have to fight for their right to exist as equals in society.
Privilege allows people to live life in blissful ignorance. But this ignorance breeds complacency, and holds people back from taking action against the systems that lend them their sense of privilege, and perpetuate not only oppression but also the conflict that exists among different groups and communities. Awareness about global and social issues allows us to take action against these systems in whatever way we can. It encourages us to change our mindset and outlook, protest against unfair laws and policies, join existing organisations that tackle social problems, and spread the gospel of peace and compassion. Awareness begins with education. It is essential to educate oneself and others and to use our voice to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. We must use our privilege to learn skills that will help us in breaking barriers and creating an interwoven community that upholds the rights of every individual irrespective of their class, caste, race, gender or religion.
Such ideas might sound unattainable, but we must remember that the biggest changes begin at the grassroots level. There is no better time than the present to burst your own bubbles and break the status quo, helping in the creation of a world where peace does not just mean the absence of war, but the presence of means that allow all communities and individuals to grow and flourish.