If you are reading this, you’re lucky to be not one of those who aren’t

Think about your father, your brother, your son, your sister, your mother, your daughter, your grandchild, your uncle, your aunt, or any of the most closest relations that you may possibly have and consider close. Picture all of them in your mind with all the nicest memories you have of them till now. Recall all the moments where they’ve been there to comfort you- even if comforting meant to only have the knowledge that they’re there for you.

Say your brother’s name once… Now your sister’s name… Now your child’s.

What was the last thing you said to your brother? What did you tell your son when you saw him last? Come on! Try recalling. Even if it was minutes ago.

Now imagine if I tell you that all these loved ones of yours just passed away in an accident or an act of terror that just lasted for a few seconds. Yes! You no longer have your father, brothers, mother, wife, daughter or son. You’ve lost all of them together.

Now say all those names again and tell yourself that they are DEAD. Never to be seen walking around the house, talking to you, laughing with you, crying with you, teasing you, or comforting you ever again.

This is how it is to the surivors of those who pass away in incidents where the news goes like: “5 members of the same family killed in the incident.” News that hardly means anything to us as we casually move on to the next news item without feeling the slightest of compassion for the deceased or their survivors. Forget about compassion, we’re probably not even consciously thankful to God that it wasn’t us in their place.

We’ve belittled the value of human life in our minds so much that we only consider ourselves and those whom we consider our own as humans. We’re comfortable in leaving it to God to take care of the rest of mankind but that too after God takes care of us in a manner that we deem fit.

A few years back, a friend’s cousin met with a road accident and required blood urgently. Upon receiving the message from that friend of mine I quickly spread the word in my circle of influence in order to make an attempt to arrange the required blood type quickly. A mutual friend of ours texted me back asking who the blood was required for. When I gave him the details he was very quick to respond in a manner that boiled my own blood quite instantly. He highlighted the fact that our friend (and therefore his cousin by that connection) belonged to a different sect. He also questioned me whether I was sure about asking people to donate blood for someone from another background.

I was flabbergasted at his response to say the least. All I could come up with in response to this was a simple question: What would you do if you find someone bleeding on the road requiring urgent medical attention? Would you take him to the hospital immediately or run a background check first confirming which religion, sect or group the person belongs to before deciding your next course of action?

Although his response was far less offensive to my surprise but since that day every time I recall the same question, I end up questioning myself for asking that question in the first place. I mean, let’s be honest here with ourselves. How many of us would even stop at the sight of a bleeding person on the road? Not many. Fortunately enough, the time hasn’t come yet when I could sadly yet confidently state ‘none of us’ in response to this very difficult question. But still, the continuously deteriorating situation is not something to write home about as far as compassion is concerned in our society.

Why does it have to take someone who is our own to make us feel the pain? Why has empathy been reduced to merely a topic that corporate trainers & motivational speakers charge huge sums to lecture about in workshops & training sessions? Why does blood have to be treated as blood only when it comes out of us?

All lives have to end one day. Some later than others. If you are reading this, you’re lucky to be not one of those who aren’t. Not because they don’t like reading what I write, but because they’re simply not alive anymore to do so.

Value life, and not just yours but every other human being alive. For every man and woman no matter what religion, sect, caste, group or ethnicity they belong to, and no matter how irrelevant they may be to you, they are someone’s own. Just like your parents, siblings, spouse or any other loved one, the mere thought of whose separation till the life hereafter absolutely sends shivers down your spine.

Hammad A. Mateen

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