Each year, the International Day of Peace is observed on 21st September. The United Nations General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and people.
The importance of PEACE is different for every person, depending upon his/her profession, background, aspirations etc. Ask an IT professional (about PEACE), with grueling working hours, she/he might be longing for weekly offs wherein they could let their hair down at a pub, relieving themselves of their work related stress. A soldier serving at border would define it differently and would wish for cross-border peace so that they don’t have to fire a single bullet which could end someone’s life.
I come from a town called Hazaribagh which is in the State of Jharkhand. Our parents wanted us (my brother and I) to excel at studies and get a decent job. I was allowed to move to Delhi after passing Higher Secondary and subsequently, I landed a job in the city itself. Similarly, my younger brother moved to Pune to pursue law from a reputed institute. Once, he passed from the institute, he joined a prestigious law firm in Mumbai in the year of 2009. I, at that point of time, had left my job and was preparing for a competitive exam. It was 13th February 2010 and I remember watching a news channel and making notes for my classes. My attention wavered for a moment since the channel was announcing about a cylinder blast at one of the famous bakeries in Pune called German Bakery which was frequented by youngsters and foreign tourists. I looked up for a moment and then got back to my work without even thinking about the impact of the blast on the victims. It was almost 15 minutes when the same channel confirmed that it was actually a terrorist attack and almost two dozen people have died and more than 50 were injured. I was relieved that my brother was no longer in Pune (as he had moved to Mumbai after completing his law degree). While these thoughts were going on in mind, I was suddenly left aghast when I saw my brother being carried in a stretcher on the television screen.
The next few months were nothing short of nightmare for our family as we gathered courage to face whatever future held for us. As my brother struggled and fought through various painful surgeries, I felt something inside me changed forever. A whole battery of youngsters (alumni and friends of my brother’s college) rallied around the families of survivors. We lost the friends of my brother who could not pull through. My brother fought through and came out a winner at the end. This incident showed us the fragility of life. Not a day passes by when we do not think of that life altering event.
As a society, we have become immune to the events happening around us which threaten PEACE. Most of us have become parochial with least consideration for our neighbors & insensitive to the needs of others. PEACE had a different meaning for our family, till the time we got struck by that catastrophe in the form of a terrorist attack. An attack in any part of the world did not invite my attention since it was not impacting my daily life, but this changed after that evening of 13th February, 2010. Not only terrorists attack, but any kind of act that violates PEACE matter to me now. Be it the 2012 NIRBHAYA episode, or killings of people because a Godman has been convicted recently or a murder of a fearless journalist in Bangalore.
The need of the hour is to understand if humanity is really thriving or just crawling in the shrinking space around us. Our spaces, be it personal or professional, are posing threats in various ways, which challenge our very existence. Are we up for the challenge?
I feel that faith and hope in each other and in our own selves needs to be restored in these troubled times. We live in times of extreme self-insecurity, which also leads to distrust towards each other. We are detached, unconcerned and indifferent. And we fail to realize that we cannot connect with what happens outside of us without connecting to what happens inside of us. After nearly losing my brother to a terrorist attack, I have tried to understand myself better, which has made me more empathetic and compassionate. It is the peace within that can ultimately help us build peace outside.