By: Dr. Tanvi Maharaja
As we draw 2021 to a close and are ready to open the doors to 2022, braced for all its surprises (hopefully only the pleasant kinds!) and welcome all the joyous tidings we hope it will bring, I want to share a song from my native tongue, Gujarati, that is very precious to me, and seems fitting for the times we live in.
I learnt this song in school, and even to this day as I listen to it, it is like peeling an onion: I just keep discovering more and more layers, more and more meaningful nuggets, more relevance to life than ever before.
To summarize, the song leads us through the marvels of nature, the beauty that abounds all around us: constellations, stars, the moon, the sun, the dusk, and the dawn: they belong to everyone and yet to no one in particular. We all have an equal right to enjoy these simple beauties of life, and we all get equal opportunities to enjoy them. Men and animals alike are bestowed with senses to witness these glorious events, which, honestly, we might have stopped paying attention to!
The song questions the claims men make over rivers and land, over oceans and seas. These were made for all human beings and all living creatures to enjoy alike. Yet, look where we are today. Wars raging across the world, the disaster we have caused on earth with climate, and unequal distribution of resources causing grief and strife among mankind. This is not how it was supposed to be.
As human beings, we all experience similar emotions. We all go through heartaches of one kind of another. We all experience love and affection and get to shower love and affection. We all know too well the pangs of the loss of a loved one, the disappointments in relationships, the bursting pride when our children succeed, and the contentment at seeing our parents in good health. The tears we all shed at the loss of a loved one accompany the same soul-crushing sadness. The smiles that smear our faces when we see our beloved are identical the world over. We just have different languages for these emotions, different words to describe them. Aren’t we all one and the same? What then, are we fighting over?
Have you seen the rainbow, the beauty of that arching band across a cloudy sunlit sky? Isn’t it wonderful how all the colors coexist? Would we even have a rainbow without the colors? Colors are what make a rainbow a spectacle to behold, a thing of beauty to appreciate and cherish. Yet, do we appreciate and cherish all the beauty of skin colors in the world? Where do our biases come from? What can we do to make this world a more peaceful, more open-minded world?
We humans, the quintessential creatures with a wonderful thing called the neocortex, that is supposed to make us more intelligent, and facilitate thinking at a higher level, are the ones who do not seem to get along with each other. All other creatures coexist and live in harmony. It’s time we do, too.
This simple, beautiful song from my elementary school days might be the most wonderful message of global beauty and kindness that I still carry with me.
And today, as we embark on another year with an air of uncertainty, I would like to share it with you all, hoping that the coming year brings peace, love, good health, and joy to all.
Happy New Year!!