— Be A King (@BerniceKing) April 30, 2021
In India, people are dying every minute.
The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit us hard and shaken us to the core.
The loopholes in the healthcare system have been exposed. People are dying because of the lack of oxygen, and the cremation grounds don’t have space for the dead bodies.
The counting of the deaths has completely gone for a toss. Leaders whose foundation is based on egoistic values have failed us. As a popular media outlet wrote—it’s hell!
At a time like this, even breathing becomes a matter of privilege.
The survival guilt haunts you and the uncertainty of what might happen in the future adds to the stress levels.
Indians are now parallelly battling a mammoth mental health crisis, and the unfortunate part about this is that the country is low on mental health awareness.
As a middle-class Indian and a Hindu Brahmin, I have certain privileges that a lot of my people in my country don’t. I am trying my best to help, knowing that it will be just a little drop in the ocean.
Ignoring the situation is not an option, but at the same time, how do I protect my mental health? How does an ordinary citizen like me survive?
The answer, perhaps, lies in what my therapist told me when I was moved to tears, talking about the apathy of the leaders and the carnage in the country. I told her about how guilty I’m feeling to think anything about myself, my life, or my problems.
Explaining to me the difference between sympathy and empathy, she told me that I wouldn’t be helping anyone by refusing to be kind to myself. That changed the way I looked at compassion.
If you tell someone that you will die without them, it initially sounds beautiful. Wouldn’t you be flattered if someone told you that they cannot live without you?
But unfortunately, that’s not a healthy form of love. It’s not going to help the person you love—they might feel good in the beginning, but eventually, they will feel suffocated.
Self-destruction, on the surface, looks like love—but it is actually ego under the garb of love.
Because the focus shifts from the person you love to you! Self-destruction can be seductive because you start thinking about your pain about people’s pain instead of the people’s pain itself.
So, millions of Indians, like me, are trying to help each other, completely acknowledging the pain and grieving for the ones who have lost their loved ones.
Distressing times like this can often trap us in egoistic ways—we are tempted to think that small acts of kindness don’t matter when a colossal crisis strikes us. We sometimes start thinking that it’s better to do nothing because small acts don’t matter. But isn’t this an egoistic way of dodging our responsibility?
Small acts of kindness might not change my country, but they might help one person.
My ego tells me the opposite. It tells me that I cannot make an impact unless I’m a superhero or a messiah. But I, along with millions of other Indians, remind myself every hour that it is not about me—it’s about the people suffering.
Love and compassion include being sensitive and empathetic and yet also being a little detached so that you can survive.
Destroying yourself for love is not love. Thinking of yourself as a savior is not love. Because in both of these cases, the focus is on you. True love and compassion are when you focus on others and humanity at large.
That’s the only way one can survive a tragedy of this scale.