We exist in difficult times. Promises of peaceful and harmonious coexistence recede far into the background as due to the hegemonic discourses of the majoritarian culture most of humanity today finds itself existing in divided, conflicted and polarized conditions. Some of the defining relational binaries propagated by those in power are of ‘insider’ vs. ‘outsider’, ‘nationalist’ vs. ‘citizen’ vs. ‘refugee’, ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ and ‘loyalist’ vs. ‘terrorist’ and so on and so forth. Violence, insecurity, collective paranoia and the annihilation of the dreaded/different other seem to be the central features in the movement between groups clinging on to religious, nationalist and ethnic identities.
We are aware that exposure to conflict at a personal, interpersonal and/or social and political level leave marks, more often than not, indelible ones, on the psyche. Existence under conditions of prolonged conflict is likely to give birth to experiences of trauma in adults as well as children. While one might learn to cope in the face of challenging situations, yet the cost of such adaptation is very high. Breaking the sense of continuity across generations and rupturing cultural signifiers that otherwise lend a sense of‘ ongoingness to life’, contexts of conflict tear the protective fabric of the collective self, leaving individuals and communities acutely vulnerable, hyper vigilant and shaken. Multiple levels of psychosocial disconnection and dislocation often interfere with acceptance of losses and the enablement of processes of bereavement. Fantasies of helplessness and/or revenge might colour the world of the survivors. Cycles of victims converting themselves into victimisers or generations lost to vitality as consequences of exposure to uncertain and terrifying conditions stare us squarely into the face. Mental health and wellbeing become precarious indeed. In fact, in such situations, they sound tragic and ironic indeed!
During Awaaz 2019 we will attend with care and listen deeply to the wounds and stories of those living for prolonged periods in conflict zones. We pledge to devote 13th November 2019, to engage with and bear witness, to a few selected contexts in which human beings have for long been surviving through pain and anguish and have, yet been struggling, to create meaning amidst despair.
Schedule of the day