Friday, February 15, 2008

Sorry is the hardest word?

Australia has apologized to all indigenous Australians some days back. For the atrocities they faced, for their land that was grabbed and subsequently their livelihood, et al.

Is an apology enough to heal a race? Maybe it is, because the wronged can start to forgive, and start to live once again. Its not about what is lost, but what can be saved by the power of the human mind.

Recently a grandson of Mahatma Gandhi was forced to resign from a peace institute of the University of Rochester (a department he himself co-founded), for his comments on the Jews and the holocaust. Apart from saying that the Jews can overplay the holocaust for sympathy he also put this question forward- how long can the whole world feel sorry for what happened to the Jews.

How long does the whole world have to be sorry? Forever, is my guess. Its not a question of how many millions died or suffered ... its a question of every individual who lived through it or died in it.
Its about every single child who went to the gas chamber because she/he was too little to work.
Its about every toddler swung against the wall with their feet, or hunted down from basements to be shot.
Its about every mother who had to see their little ones die of starvation or take them to their death in their own arms.
Its about every grandfather who was taken away never to be seen again.
Its about every father who had to live, and work at a crematorium knowing he is burning the bodies of his wife and children.

How long do we have to be sorry??? Is that even a question?

Some groups in India wanted England to apologize for their centuries of rule on this land. If England has to start apologizing for their colonial past, heaven help them. And while we are at it, why not ask the Central Asians (Babur was a Turk from near Iran) to apologize their role in ruling the land, or well, the Aryans who were the first to come and depose the original Indians, the Indian aborigins... who we knew in the last century as the caste-less... or at best the lowest caste, and who we protest against nowadays because they are taking away our medical seats and government jobs (due to the Indian system of seat reservation for the downtrodden and economically deprived). Wait, that might mean, I would have to apologize too.

Speaking of India, we find apologizing below our stature. The Gujarat riots in 2002- nope. The anti sikh riots after Indira Gandhi's assassination- it was even played down by the then prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, who is reported to have commented- "When a big tree falls, the earth is bound to shake". The apology for the carnage did come through in 1998 (the riots took place in 1984), by his wife, Sonia Gandhi.

Going global again, what about the indegenous Americans- the (un-original) Indians. You dont even have to read anything to know what happened. Watch a couple of westerns, or read about Hiawatha and Pocahontas, and you get the drift. Any apology? None officially.

Africa called for slavery apology in 2001 from Europe and America... nope. White trash dont say sorry. They sometimes "express regret" for the atrocities they unleashed on most of the African and some of the Asian countries, they wont take the leap from regret to apology.

If we start asking for apologies, I wonder where it will end. From my friend who forgot to ask me why I wasnt well yesterday, to Kenya's women, from Bhopal tragedy victims to Vietnam, from the Rangoon monks to the to the Tutsi-s in Rwanda, from Jade Goody's racial slur at Shilpa Shetty, to Darfur's millions of refugees, from a kiss in India, to a race almost wiped out by a madman in Cambodia.

The human race is capable of great good and great evil. And the evil does not drive us completely mad only because of the good which still exists in us... in all of us. May the good always find a way to win. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. very powerful... and moving!

    apology is symbolic, yet so powerful. i think it doesn't reduce the pain, but it allows the healing to begin...

    it's a fantastic thing the australian govt. did... the rest of the world can learn from it... they is no other way to deal with the pain of the past .