True Independence

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Kartik Bajoria


A student of mine recently came to me and asked me to suggest a poem that she could recite at her school’s Poetry Recitation Competition. I instinctively gravitated to one of my favorite poems titled Human Family by Maya Angelou. For your reference, I’d like to share that poem here before I continue:

I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I’ve sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I’ve seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I’ve not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England’s moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we’re the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

The reason I thought of sharing this specific poem in this blog that marks another historic year of our country’s independence, is simply because it is the essence of this poem that is the core thought I’d like to leave you with this Independence Day. India, our great nation, draws immense pride from our ethos of inclusion, of our diversity, of our multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi-ethnic past and present.

However, some would contend that this great and beautiful diversity is being undermined in present-day India. That how we once were, divided on the basis of narrow-mindedness and myopic outlooks, we are, again today. And that to me, really puts a serious question-mark on the entire notion of freedom, of true, essential, liberty. Today freedom means different things to different people. Sure. But are we not, in this digitized, connected, hyper-tech world, regressing if we begin to colour our outlook, behaviour, opinions and decisions with the colour and origin of skin? Is this the independent country we want to live in, one that is divided, compartmentalized, in mind and boundary?

I leave you therefore, in this relatively short Independence Day blog, with a simple message. Celebrate freedom but be truly free. Exalt liberty but only if you understand true liberty. And accept your independence, only if you are willing yourself, to be, independent in your thinking. Happy Independence Day!

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

via TOI Blog

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