The prominent Chief Seattle, leader of the native American tribes made a significant comment in 1854 when the white man was fragmenting their common world into small independent ranches and farmhouses: “The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected, like the blood, which unites one family. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”
We believe that instead of ‘curing’ in the aftermath of social conflicts, we need to engage positively with them. As future decision makers, youth need to internalise a social orientation and a regard for common spaces, so that they can become socially responsible decision makers in the future.
We feel that sustainable social change emanates from individuals. Change them or their orientation and the system will change. Long term changes will therefore be brought about by developing in young people the relevant values, attitudes and skills.
J.Krishnamurti said, “To live is to be related – we have to teach children about life and that is to teach them about relationships.”
This goes hand in hand with reverence for common spaces – the rivers, roads, sky and collective consciousness of society. Our objective is to enable individuals to leave the shores of their self-absorbed islands and voyage into the world of relationships.
We believe that the way to engage people into having a deeper and further horizon is to instill in them a respect for the journey and not only the fruits. This is possible by focusing on the skills of reflection, self-awareness, analysis, conflict resolution and citizenship.
To rub out years of learned collective wisdom, to shed old baggage that is very dear to us, to unlearn and learn again is an effort undertaken only by an inspired handful. So we, at Pravah, work with youth, who may be comparatively free of baggage, the sands of their soul not yet overcrowded by footprints. They would be the ones occupying powerful positions in the future, people who can potentially influence the course of societal action and move it towards prevention rather than cure, delayed gratification rather than instant utopias, long term rather than short term.
It is walking the thin line between fun and work, social responsibility and sacrifice, creativity and indiscipline, Hindi and English, right and left, black and white, from me to we.