Solidarity… The secret to our survival!
Every 20th of December is globally celebrated as the International human solidarity day. It presents us with an opportunity to reflect upon how we humans are bound to each other in an interdependent relationship. We as individuals, communities, societies and nations contribute to our mutual growth and prosperity. Lately Covid19 has obliged us all to humbly recognise the fact that when struck by such an overwhelming calamity, we have no choice but to depend upon our universal solidarity to empathize with each other’s suffering and leave no stone unturned in figuring out a practical resolve to end our pain. However, if pandemic has taught us humility, it has not done so without severely damaging our social and psychological well-being.Notwithstanding the fact that there are multiple factors which contribute to such well-being, I shall humbly restrict myself to a deliberation upon how this disease has brought into question our notions of human solidarity by dealing out debilitating blows to all projects of social inclusion particularly of people with visual impairment and other special conditions.
Such special person’s were already facing stringent attitudes whenever they struggled to be included in mainstream education and employment. With conditions as they are today, their commendable efforts have turned into a bitter struggle for survival, not only because of Covid19 and its adversities but also due to people who are unable to effectively but courteously manage their fear of being infected by the disease. Their notions of social distancing has no room for common courtesy because of which most of them end up being unruly, harsh and discourteous whenever they are required to provide assistance to a special person. Of course it is done unconsciously and without any ill intent. It nevertheless compels all Differently Ables to re-evaluate their hard-earned socio-economic positions under the constant barrage of such a paranoid social behaviour and make them question the concept of today’s human solidarity.
Understandably, this paranoia has its roots in the fact that even the merest physical interaction can cause this disease to be transmitted from one person to another. Still, it does not excuse and justify any kind of misbehaviour and discourtesy which implies marginalization of such people. If anything, it requires us to exhaust our intellectual resources in figuring out ways to involve and engage special person’s with different abilities and let them exercise their potential to its fullest. For inclusion does not only serve social purposes but is also necessary for developing a strong and stable psyche as well as a healthy self-esteem, something which is the right of every person who walks under the sun.
For instance, I being a special, differently able person appreciate human development foundation for taking such a view of the matter. Throughout the covid crisis they have kept me meaningfully engaged in making my own contribution to their efforts for social development and poverty eradication. However, there are countless differently Ables out there who are choking out of stress and anxiety and are rapidly losing their sense of self-worth. For you see, in the lightless world of blindness family and friends, colleagues and acquaintances shine like hundreds and thousands of twinkling stars in an ever darkening night sky. So it is that interacting with others is much more in the world of sounds and shadows than mere socialisation, a source of light and life which emanates from company and companionship.
In essence dear reader, I take your leave with a request to let us all take an initiative on our individual levels of becoming a source of light in a special, differently able persons life. Perhaps online virtual groups can be created as a forum where special people can connect with others like you and I, safeguard their sanity by brightening their horizons through such a semblance of a social interaction.
Let this international day of human solidarity stand as a reminder to all of us that we humans are nothing without each other… That we and we together have the keys to beat all the challenges faced by humanity. For as John Donne so rightly wrote long ago:
“No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.”
Written by Talha Masood