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INDIA: Childhood Is the Opposite of Violence

Manmeet Kaur
Posted August 3, 2016 from India

How do we unlearn the violence we've grown up with?

“Peace cannot be unearthed without the acorn of innocence.

Over the years, I have come to learn that peace is not the answer to violence; it is the consequence of its answer.

One night, in the middle of my regular evening walk, I had the fortune of witnessing one of the most unadulterated and socially unfiltered scenes I have ever encountered.

It was simple: A 3-year-old girl was talking to an old vendor, urging him to stop what he was doing and play with her. In a moment of social amnesia, I rejoiced at the disregard this little one was practicing by her simple actions. Only a few years from now, she will hold all kinds of inhibitions and apprehensions about the most innocent of persons and guard herself from others. She will learn to steer clear of the swings where the boys play. She will quit playing if a child of her class and family stature is not available to sport along with her. She will skip peeking through the windows of the religious places that do not chant the name of her God.

And, probably, after meeting that vendor, this little girl was scolded for her actions and warned against connecting with a stranger. And now, deep within her, a discomfort is brewing and she is already forgetting the hearty greetings she bestowed without scruples.

The opposite of violence is not peace; it is not love. Peace cannot be unearthed without the acorn of innocence. The opposite of violence is childhood: childhood with its universal acceptance and all embracing smiles.

If only we could reverse the thoughts that have been pushed down our throats right from our nascent years of experience, the thoughts that have warned us against those who are almost exactly like us, the thoughts that have urged us to conduct our bodies in a certain way and our minds in another... if only.

Have you ever noticed how easily a child forgets? Remember the last time you coaxed a child away from a dangerous activity? Did he complain? It amazes me how adults lie to children and despite being innocently betrayed over and over again, the little ones run back and hug those very same adults with so much love in their hearts.

The 21st century is an extremely complicated time to be alive. Caught in the vicious circles of hatred and violence, connections and cyber crimes, technology and nuclear weapons, instigation and reaction—we are losing track of what we were born as: children.

Being as accepting and as welcoming as little children is the only hope I have for our ever-violent world. There is an urgent need to unlearn and unload the ideas of otherness and alienation that we have amassed in the “natural” process of growing up. Let us all return to the reservoir of childlike innocence and acceptance, for that is who we truly are.

Comments 6

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Soumya Vilekar
Aug 04, 2016
Aug 04, 2016

Dear Manmeet,

Its true we need to relive as children and as beings with more compassion and kindness. Childhood has that innocence and truth alive in it which allows the child to reconnect back and forgive the wrong to move ahead without grudges.

It is a rare virtue and we as adults need that more.

Thanks

Malawi Kadies Aid
Aug 06, 2016
Aug 06, 2016

I'm an 89 year old American--I lived in Africa for ten years back in the 1960's and have always had a love for the continent and its people.  I've been wiorking with the Worl Medical Fund for Children in Malawi for years (from the US) and am presently in Malawi working on a prroject with local women; teaching them sewing skills and other crafts which we sell for the benefit of World Medical //fund.  At present, the only compensation these women receive is a daily nutritious meal which we provide for them, but as the orders for our products come in, they will receive small bonuses every month to help them.  We use treadle sewing machines, and have made quilted wall hangings with African chitenje,  tote bags,  dolls in African dress, and many Christmas ornaments.  We are working toward making this an ongoing project--at present the women work on an open porch open  to strong winds, and we are working toward getting a building for them built on the World Medical Fund compound so we can expand and train even more local women.  It has been a dream of mine to really make a difference in /African lives, and I think I've finally found a way to do it.

Tamarack Verrall
Aug 06, 2016
Aug 06, 2016

Dear Manmeet,

I love the mind expanding journey you take us on here, challenging us to go beyond simple word opposites to really look at what can take us to a time in life that precedes violence. You are so right. We have much to learn (and unlearn) and gain by remembering what our true natures are capable of. Children do show us daily how to be with each other beautifully. I love the photo, too. And you have a beautiful way with words.

In sisterhood,

Tam

helen.ng
Aug 08, 2016
Aug 08, 2016

Manmeet, this is such a beautifully written piece. I love how first started off with an anecdote about a young child you saw. You bring up an especially important point about children - that they are very quick to forget. There is definitely a certain innocence about them that adults and older tend to wipe away from their memory, generally as a means of fitting in with societal norms. We tend to forget our origins and our childlike ways, ultimately hardening us as humans, and bringing us closer towards chaos and instability, as evidenced by the recent atrocities in the news.

April_rain
Aug 10, 2016
Aug 10, 2016

Hello ManmeetK,

I love the images your words paint in my heart. I often marvel at the innocence of a child, unassuming and welcoming. 

Indeed we have so much to learn and unlearn. Thank you for sharing this.

Warm regards,

April_rain 

Manmeet Kaur
Aug 10, 2016
Aug 10, 2016

Dear Soumya, Helen, Tam, and April- I am deeply humbled by your observations and the fact that you took out time to read this. Thank you so so much! Your insights into this topic and your reviews have added a lot to my perspective and I am deeply grateful for that.

Malawi Kadies Aid, it is extremely empowering to read your story. Will we ever be to thank you enough for adding such positiveness to this fractured world :)

In sisterhood,

love,

Manmeet