The last few weeks have had a daunting effect on my mind; the events around the world creating many shifts in thought processes and forcing me to question the very basic of human existence — trust.
Humans seem to have a very skewed perspective of their actions sometimes. “Aren’t you being inhuman?” is an oft-repeated question thrown at someone doing/talking something unacceptable and/or painful. Then what is “human?” Raping a 23-year old to death? Shooting 20 innocent children? Terrorizing nations with nuclear power? Taking POWs hostage and torturing them? And the list is endless.
Homo sapiens are apparently born with an innate characteristic called “trust.” A newborn from its first breath trusts the mother who nurses him/her and lovingly nurtures him/her. A child has an undeniable and unquestionable trust towards his/her parents (of course given that exceptions rule every scenario). A student trusts the teacher to teach right (or do they?). A lover trusts that betrayal will never fall upon them (or do they?). A wife/husband trusts that the spouse spending long hours at work is not cheating (or do they?).
The wife/mother wishes her husband and kids a great day at work/school and sees them leave every morning with the trust that they will return home safe in the evening without being in an accident or in a bomb blast or shooting…… and our species, sub-consciously, lives life trusting every aspect of it at every step. But today, can a woman trust to walk the streets or take a bus ride alone without the fear of being molested? Can a child walk to school and back alone without the fear of being kidnapped? Can a child be left to play in the park unwatched?
Can one friend trust another with the deepest darkest secrets without the fear of being stabbed in the back? On a more global level, can a nation trust any treaty signed at pompous conferences while war is afoot? These questions have been playing on my mind for days and have left disturbing ripples in my pool of thoughts about the various aspects of life. Where is our race headed to? When one talks of rape, I am inclined to opine that today, the word “rape” has many facets. Apart from forced sexual assault, people today seem to rape the trust that others carry in their heart and minds….abuse of emotions… a mind rape of sorts.
When a bride is burnt to death for dowry, she is “raped” of all the love and trust she held for the same people earlier on. When a man, not only physically but mentally, emotionally and verbally abuses his wife, he is raping her of all respect and dignity she held within herself ; and over the years, creates a vacuum screaming to be filled with a sense of validation.
When a daughter is not allowed by her family to further her career or choose her own spouse, and eventually married off to someone considered appropriate by society, she is “raped” of all life choices that she deserves and her trust towards her family is broken. But can she “trust” the society to let her make her own choices? Because inspite of all the so-called emancipation that has apparently pervaded into cultures across the globe, even today at this moment, as I sit here in the security of my own home writing this, a woman is being raped somewhere, a female foetus is being aborted, a daughter/sister is being forced to give up her studies/career and married off, a girl who has come of age is being forced into a burkha, a wife is being abused, a daughter-in-law is being ill-treated, a woman executive in the corporate world is being sexually harassed, a lover is dealing with a broken heart, a wife is forcing herself to forgive a cheating and abusive husband only to protect her kids and keep the family together, a maid servant is working many back-breaking jobs to make ends meet only to be beaten and abused by a drunk husband later at night, a woman is eloping with her “lover” only to discover later that he is a pimp and she is stuck in the dirty world of prostitution for life, an aged mother is being sent off to a lonely retirement home as the son she so lovingly raised is unwilling to take care of her.
And I can go on endlessly penning down scenarios. Of betrayal and broken trust, of emotional, physical and verbal abuse, of mind rape. It seems to me that mankind has pushed the envelope so far that it is now imperative for this race to take a pause and realign its value system because we are otherwise worse than the wild animals in the jungle… they at least don’t attack their own! Then, why do we, an “intelligent” species thrive on such violence? What sort of a legacy and environment are we leaving behind for future generations? It ideally should be one of hope and trust. And hopefully one day, it will be… only thanks to those out there who have had the strength to move on inspite of any adversities. Sacredly holding and guarding that TRUST within!
Amisha Shah is an architect currently based in California, USA. Her other passions apart from architecture and design include Bharatnatyam and playing the violin.