Being Human and Humane
Humaneness is a small word and the connotation of the word can never justify the importance and feeling behind it. It is the core value behind the progress of civilization and the human race. It is intrinsic and innate to one and all. In the simple and traditional society, human lives were less complicated and human bonds were stronger. With the transition of innocent living to a modern and ultra-modern era and lifestyles, the respect for humanity is declining. The higher one is placed, the lesser one thinks about other human relations, a paradox of our times.
Humaneness as a value should be given impetus. Small acts of benevolence can create huge ripples of change. It can help one wipe tears, spread joy and smiles. It gives immense pleasure to both the giver and the taker. One gets satisfaction out of small and random acts of kindness and compassion, which is nothing but humanitarianism. Misery and agony can be abated through being humane.
I have grown up learning the core value of humaneness and service. It has become the ethos of my life. I keep extending support to the needy and distressed. I would like to share a few tales from the recent past about the many acts of kindness that I have been engaged in the last 30 years.
Last month, I read about 4 orphan girls and their plight in “Samaj”, an Odia daily Newspaper. The helpless girls had lost their father before few days and mother five years back. They did not have anything to eat after the death of the only bread earner in their family. The eldest of them is pursuing her Bachelors Degree while the other three girls are studying in school. We immediately sent them some cash for their expenses and assured them financial assistance every month. We also offered a job to the eldest one at KISS Puri after completion of her Bachelors Degree. Further, among the other three, two will be pursuing higher education at KISS Puri from next year while the youngest one will be enrolled in Kendra Vidyalaya. – A stroke of humaneness at work.
In a recent road accident in Cuttack- Paradip road, I extended support to the family members of the people who had died on the spot. We gave them cash for immediate help and offered employment to 3 people from the family of the deceased to ensure that the family is not pressed to make both ends meet while facing this irreparable loss. In my capacity, I tried to help the family and its next generation to lead a happy life. – Another instance of humaneness in action.
In both the above cases, I tried to extend immediate help and provide a permanent solution. There is no end to the sufferings, pain and miseries in society. But we can do our bit. I sometimes go down the line of nostalgia and remember kindness of the people who helped our family in the darkest of the dark circumstances and find it coming a full circle today.
I still remember with extreme pain a memory from my childhood when my father expired untimely leaving seven children and a widowed mother without a single piece of land, a home or money. I was four and my youngest sibling was one month old when the news of my father’s demise through train accident came to my elder brother at 5 AM in the morning. My brother who was 16 years old then rushed to the hospital after getting the news. He was in deep grief and remorse after seeing the body of my father covered with a white sheet that cleared his state of denial. He came back to take consent from my mother to claim the dead body and bring it home for last rites. My mother nodded in stoic silence.
My mother who was 40 years old then had no idea of facing this tragedy. She was totally broken. Suddenly all the burden fell upon her. She had a huge task of bringing up the children amidst poverty, hunger and humiliation without any support from anyone else. Her life was devastated by this stroke of destiny. Few relatives consoled but nothing can really comfort during such a loss.
After hearing the news of my father’s death, some Kaabuliwallahs (Traditional money lenders) came to our house to recuperate the hand loans that father had taken. My mother was not aware of such borrowings. They are very friendly while lending money but usually ruthless when someone defaults. When the Kabuliwallahs saw the pathos of our life, loss of the only earning member and no money for the seven siblings or the last ritual, they left considering they can not get anything back from our helpless poor family. Such staunch Kabuliwallahs who are known for harassing the borrowers in case of non-payment did not ask for their money back from our family and left our home tongue-tied. This is the example of humaneness that I experienced early in my life.
Few colleagues of my father came home to console my father’s death. They knew that my father was a good human being but was very poor. They also knew that family had nothing to eat after father’s death. Four colleagues of my father came forward to support our family at this time of distress by providing us with basic groceries and vegetables so that the family did not die of hunger. Today, we survive and have scaled heights because of the humaneness showed to us.
My mother was asked to vacate the staff quarters given by the company to get the deposits and insurance cover upon an accident. We thought we will be homeless. But, a distant relative, who himself stayed in a one-room house, spared his verandah and kitchen for all of us. We moved there and stayed there for six months. The shelter was given to us when our lives had lost meaning. This act of humanitarianism anchored us at the times of despair and disillusionment.
I have been observing and feeling this humanitarianism from 1970 through my experience. Without humanitarianism, this family of 8 people would have perished, listless and unrecognized. We are what we are because of the compassion extended to us in the past and we shall always stay rooted in the past and extend the same to all with empathy, love, and compassion. I would not have been able to contribute to the society, state, the country had humanism not played a major role in my life.
Great people have done great deeds because of the touch of humaneness they have experienced in their lifetime. They remain great because it is reflected in their actions and words. I have felt its power and lived with it from the age of four. It doesn’t cost anything but returns multifold to the soul and the society at large. Make what Desmond Tutu says and I quote “ Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” the maxim of your life and world will be a better place to live in.