Friday, April 12, 2019

Bright future, anyone?

A note from Kirthi

It was a hot morning, and the political rallies on ground filled the streets with chaos. There were people beating drums, people dancing, people shouting slogans... and a big cardboard trough shooting crackers one after another. Vehicles moved inch by inch, and I was late for school. I stopped my ride and got off to walk, squeezing through the spaces between vehicles and dancing party workers.
Despite the delay, I was curious and I simply had to know, so I stopped and asked one of the party workers what his party's vision was for India, and why they deserved to be voted. He simply responded saying, "Our leader is what India needs. Don't ask these questions, it doesn't matter. Just vote for our leader and see what happens."
The future seemed bleak.
I made it to class late, but my babies were already in place, bright smiles and brighter minds in tow. In the first session, we talked about children's rights and how they intersected with caste, religion, gender, disability, race, and class. We talked about privilege and oppression and read "The Boy Who Asked Why" together - where we learned about Dr Ambedkar. They left me with a promise that they will include and not exclude, empathize and not other, and learn and not remain ignorant.
In the second session, the littler lot from grade 1 taught me more than I could imagine. We talked about conflict, peace, and violence, and the youngest batch of children I've worked with came to engage with Galtung's seminal work on "conflict is not equal to violence." We then read "Red" by Sagar Kolwankar, and thought about all the different kinds of conflict in the world. Sample the response to "What is violence?"
"If I hurt a plant!"
"If I make a sand castle and do pachki!"
"If we pollute the earth!"
"If we hurt someone."
"If we fight war. We can also speak to each other and share instead."
The future doesn't seem bleak, after all.