What inspires me to act? What inspires you to act? Am I willing to be the change? As I sit here in rural India, I increasingly see the problems that exist daily and I find myself continually asking these questions. I see that educated young man that should’ve known better than to throw the ice-cream wrapper on an already heavily littered street. I hear that young girl crying late in the night, pleading to her drunken father, asking him to stop hitting her sobbing mother because she did not work hard enough that day. I feel the disappointment and ‘not knowing what to do next’ in that fathers eyes when he is told that it is too late to abort the unborn child of his 18 year old unmarried daughter.
How do I translate thought into inspired action? I have no idea what it is that inspires you. I have no clue what it is that you care about and what will make you sit up whilst reading this and ask yourself if you are willing to be the change. At what point does a problem become ‘our’ problem? What do you believe it will take for you, me… us to not just care, but care enough to actually do something about the problems that exist around us? I feel restless and a little bothered at me, at you and at all those people that do not think this has anything to do with them.
Let’s look at it another way. On 12th November 1930, a 61 year old man began walking a 240 mile journey to a beach in Gujarat called Dandi, where he picked up a tiny pinch of salt. You may have already figured out that this was Gandhi and this simple act of picking up that tiny pinch of salt eventually led to the freedom of an entire nation. Many people may have questioned his approach, but what I am really curious about is what made him and the thousands of others that joined him care enough to do this? This tiny bit of salt symbolised something much bigger; it represented unity, power, choice, a freedom to be able to do something about a problem that many had given up on and maybe simply did not believe could ever be solved. And so I sit here, wondering, when was the last time you and I felt this strongly about something? When was the last time we cared about something outside of us, outside of our families or our friends? When was the last time I walked past that litter on my street and truly believed that it is my responsibility to pick it up?
So now what? That’s up to you. As I continue to explore this question of what it is that makes me care enough to act, I accept that maybe it was too ambitious of me to think that I could inspire others in the first place. Maybe, in the meanwhile, you can think about what is the one thing that you care enough about… what is it that inspires you enough to take responsibility? For Gandhi it was salt. What is it for you? What is today’s salt?
– Laxmi Chhaya, 2009 Indicorps Fellow