ALTHOUGH THE GOOGLE VIDEO PORTRAYING the reunion of long lost friends in India and Pakistan had gone viral a few months ago, I happen to view it only the other day and by the time I completed its viewing I was misty eyed, moved beyond words. It was as if I had seen the whole of Veer Zara in less than five minutes ! For Google the video clipping was an eloquent testimony for its search capabilities. For all viewers it was also a demonstration that regardless of religion or nationality there is innate goodwill and humanity resident in all of us.
HOW MANY TIMES ARE WE MOVED BEYOND WORDS as we face the rough and tumble of life each day ? I would like to believe that if we are not touched by things that happen around us, we are denying ourselves the kinship we have with the world at large. No man is an island and this is a truism that cannot be wished away.
COMING TO THINK OF IT, ALL GREAT WORKS OF ART – be it a great film, a breathtaking photograph, a painting, a musical score, a novel, a poem or even for that matter a seminal work of non-fiction have their source in the psychological moment, an event or a crying need that influenced some one profoundly. As with art, so it is with philanthropy. The world would not have had the Missionaries of Charity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation or say, the Khan Academy otherwise.
IN OUR LIVES, WE ARE MOVED BY THE GESTURES, and acts of kindness done by people unconditionally, by the sheer goodwill they have towards us and, likewise, in turn, without realizing it, we do things that bring immeasurable happiness to persons who are moved by our thoughtful and well meaning actions. The purpose of all art is, I think, is to retain humanism within all of us which is so essential for survival. While our good actions may not necessarily be propelled by art, it surely acts as a catalyst.
I REMAIN MISTY-EYED EACH TIME I VIEW A CLIPPING in TED.COM – be it that of Philippe Petit or Susan Cain. Feelings of empathy and understanding seize me and I feel hopeful that with people like these in our midst, the world is indeed a wonderful place. This also happens to me when I see a movie like Chak De or Rocket Singh or when I hear the story of Dasharath Manjhi who carved a path all alone through a mountain in Gelhour Hills near Gaya in Bihar over a period of 22 years in memory of his wife (soon to be a biopic by Ketan Mehta starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui). When Amartya Sen expounds his Idea of Justice or Katherine Boo takes us on a conducted tour of the world Behind the Beautiful Forevers, I cannot help proclaiming, “I know now, because I understand !”
ART AND LITERATURE HELP US TO BECOME citizens of the world. The pictures posted in lightbox.time.com, for instance, are visceral, crying aloud for us to be aware, to take action. As was the case with Raghu Rai’s snaps on the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. All of this may impel us to do small acts of kindness, which, in their own way, make a difference to the world. It does pay therefore to be moved at times for our own emotional well being and for building a bridge to the world around us and this surely is not idle romanticism.