Hi. My name is Gowri. I’m 21 years old, I live in the UK and I have spent the last 3 and a half years of my life studying Medicine. Sometimes, I dabble in a bit of writing on this blog here.
For those of you who do read my writing regularly, you’ll know that it rarely revolves around huge, worldly political issues. Now, don’t think for a second that that’s because I detach myself from it, or I’m not interested or because I simply don’t have an opinion. The real reason is because I often think I’m a bit simple minded, not very knowledgeable or don’t understand politics or history well enough to make any fleeting statements or to publish my opinion on the internet. Even now, as I type this, I don’t claim to know very much at all- but this time, the feeling inside me is so strong that I cannot suppress the need to say something.
Today I am writing about life.
Humans are born with two primal instincts- to survive and reproduce. There is a deep rooted, raw and unconditioned desire within most of us to live. It seems so basic. Or is it not? Am I missing something?
The majority of world religions condemn killing because they give due importance to the sacredness of life.
I have never understood the point of war. Like… what reason do we have to do something that means killing anyone, ever? Of course there are problems out there that can’t be resolved by having an amicable chat around a table but I have never really understood why war breaks out to begin with. Like everyone, I crammed it for GCSE history, ‘Moroccan Crises… assassination at Sarajevo… multifactorial etc.’ Doesn’t mean I truly understood why war happened. Because in my head, if nothing is more important than life, then how can we do anything to take it away from people unnecessarily? I always told myself that I must be missing something here, perhaps I ‘just don’t really get it’. The reason I never understood war or any sort of crime against humanity is because I have spent my whole existence thinking, whether it be right or wrong, that life is the most amazing, beautiful, sacred gift we have. Over the years, I have grown to think that this doesn’t just mean human life, but all life (I can’t even kill a spider… and recently not even the enticing smell of sizzling bacon can make me want to eat it).
I am a medical student, and every day, I come across doctors. Doctors come in all shapes and sizes with different kinds of egos and complexes and different kinds of interests but there’s one thing they all have in common. In in one way or another, they are trying to improve the quality of people’s lives. Even patient treatment is often decided depending on ‘Quality of Life’ measures. Because life is everything.
Forget healthcare professionals, I only write about it because it’s what I know. Why do we ever do things for other people even when we don’t need to? Why do we seek comfort? Why do we chase happiness, goals, job satisfaction, life satisfaction and love? Why do we collapse on the sofa on a Friday night after a long week and breathe a sigh of relief? Ultimately because all these things enrich our lives and enrich other people’s lives.
Life. Is. Everything.
Wait. But am I thick? Am I too simplistic? I’m not being sarcastic or rhetorical… there is honestly a sinking feeling in my chest that mutters ‘no, Gowri, it’s not like that, you just don’t really get it’- as I sit here and type. But is that sinking feeling right or am I right? Is it me or is there something really wrong when life- fine, human life, stops being put on a pedestal as the most important thing we have? What kind of hypocrisy is it when healthcare professionals keep trying to save lives using every single resource possible, pushing the government to squeeze more funds into this and that, when taking it away on the whim of, let’s say, a 10 hour debate is somehow acceptable? How is that justifiable?
This may well be a gross generalisation but if you are reading this from a computer screen, a tablet or a smartphone somewhere, I’m going to hazard a guess that you are somewhat comfortable financially and socially. You might have a home, a job, friends and a family. Imagine suddenly that you’re dramatically uprooted from that comfortable stability. You’re sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea watching ‘I’m a celebrity’ when, for the third time that day, you hear air raid sirens blaring in the distance. Your world, you can sense, is plummeting in front of you and you can’t do a damn thing. Your thoughts start running wild. Fear kicks into motion inside you, your hands are clammy, your heart is thumping inside your chest. You can’t sleep at night. There is a permanent, deep, unsettling fear gushing through you in every waking moment, of your home, your workplace and your loved ones getting blown up to shreds. You need to do what you can to escape but you don’t even know what options you have because really, what are the chances of you being able to go somewhere else that isn’t torn to pieces by bombs? Could you flee to another country? But what if their systems are too rigid on who they can let in? Would you even make it two steps outside let alone across some border? Of course you might have to… you may have no choice but to move your entire comfortable life that you’ve worked so hard at to become nothing but a number amongst thousands of others, making do in a tiny tent in the middle of a refugee camp somewhere that is so far away from your home, dreaming of the time where you used to be able to crash in front of your TV with your cup of tea. And that’s only if you’re one of the lucky ones.
These are people. Real people like you and me and your best friend and your mum. People… who suffer so deeply and unfairly because some 500 politicians made some decisions indirectly about your life and what happens to your country in a building somewhere far away, in another country far away.
Who cares whether they are in Syria or Iraq or here?! Isn’t the value of human life equal wherever we are in the world?
When I watched BBC news live from Wesminster yesterday and heard that verdict, I physically crawled into bed and cried relentlessly. Cried at the state of humanity, of the world, of a total lack of assigning value to life.
Then I texted a friend of mine who shares the same opinion as me but is far more level headed than I am (thank you ever so much if you are reading this), and he replied with the words ‘We have got to keep faith because we’ll have to deal with the consequences regardless’. I knew he was right.
This post here was not written to generate a political debate as to what our government has decided. It wasn’t even written so I could indulge myself in a bit of public government bashing. There’s plenty of that on Facebook already as far as I can see. According to my morals, even the 397 MPs who voted for airstrikes in Syria are humans whose lives should be respected as much as anyone else’s.
The reason I wrote this is because I want you, lovely person who stayed until the bitter end of the post, to read it and reflect on life. In the face of the crisis that is humanity at this point in time, it has become more essential than ever to remind ourselves of how valued and important life is. There is a line of Buddhist thinking known as ‘The Human Revolution’. I believe this to mean a process of inner development or transformation, where we ditch our egos and complexes that we hold so closely to us and think and behave in a more altruistic, caring and compassionate way towards all living things around us. This is the most vital revolution in humanity, and we can light that very fire inside us. I think this is the only thing that will actually aid progress amongst humankind. We can achieve it only by feeling constant gratitude for this life we have, recognising its value, recognising the value of everyone else’s lives and extending that love, care and compassion to all those around us, regardless of who they are or what they mean to us. Every single one of us has the capacity to do this.
I would be lying if I said my faith in humanity is totally intact… it isn’t. But I intend on building it up again and doing everything in my own power to spread as much love and happiness as possible, because I believe that right now, our world needs it more than ever.
Take care of your wonderful selves,