Have we given up?
It started in office recently during a heated discussion last week. The predictable topic of rising fuel prices, traffic, overall woes of infrastructure came up and a colleague started telling about how she is working with an NGO to work on some social issues. We all found her work very inspiring and asked her for more information, which she was happily sharing. Suddenly, while she was detailing the NGO's work in education, one colleague burst out. He said, "Yes, whatever has to be done has to be done by people like us. If we want the world taught, we need to teach them. If we want them to be technology savvy, we need to take our laptops and go to remote villages where children can learn computer basics from us." Some others joined chorus. One said, "Yes, we can form a forum of like-minded people in office who are willing to allocate one day a week to do something meaningful!" Another chipped in, "Seems like the only way this country can progress anywhere..."
I sat there listening, not because I do not appreciate the enthusiasm, not because I'm completely cynical that they will promise a lot in the hear of the moment and then forget it all when it comes to actually leaving their homes on a Saturday / Sunday morning. Well, I do think that the latter is a possibility but what got me more was how they thought this was the only way of making anything happen. Something was nagging me so I asked the first person, "That's really great, but perhaps given the fact that we have limited reach, resources and contacts, it may be a good idea to involve a government body at some level?"
"How does it help?" They all spoke, almost together.
"Well, the government has reach, they have money, they have data and statistics, they have bodies and organization devoted to each of these causes?"
Suddenly, many heads shook in disagreement.
The first person shouted out, above all the other voices, "I'm 36 years old. I have waited for really long for things to move / change / progress. And I have given up. I have lived in India and abroad. I have paid taxes and cribbed. Nothing will ever happen. The government will never do anything. No matter which party comes to power, they will immediately resort to looting money and safeguarding their personal fortunes, their personal family trees, their selfish interests..." Many times, while he was talking, I tried to interrupt but he just went on and on. "What nonsense are you talking about the government? You think they care? You think any of them in the parliament care? If anything has to be done perhaps we need to do it and if we are too caught up in our own affairs then perhaps we just need to live the way things are. Let's not even amuse ourselves by expecting anything from the government."
I looked around. There were many heads nodding in agreement. And it left me thinking: have we become too complacent? Do we no longer care?
Have we given up?