All I can say to you is that humanity is very strange. They say our values are humaneness, inclusiveness, respect, love, peace and kindness. This apparently is what sets us apart from the animals. But human beings can be unkind. Even animals are not as unkind as humans. Being born “free” gives life meaningful sounds: sounds of love, joy, peace, respect and kindness. Being born “free may not mean we live freely. We are restricted and often it all comes down to power and resources: those have it and those who do not. You know that classic, Animal Farm? Well it’s like that. It is survival of the fittest.
Why do I go on like this as if I am trying to make sense of something that I find quite incomprehensible? Well sit a little closer, and I’ll tell you.
How else can I begin to explain how a young girl experiences abuse from someone who calls himself her father? Or I should not put the blame to the father but to something bigger. Why does she kneel down and reach out to powers above wishing and praying daily that good news will reach her ears telling her that her father is no more and to celebrate his death?
Look at her. Crying almost every weekend instead of enjoying childhood, deprived of a father’s honest love, sleeping in layers of clothes to avoid incest, for all her life keeping close the secret that he touched her in a way that a father should never do, wondering whether he does the same with her sisters and i lying about the rape of her siblings and being forced to say, ‘I did not hear anything,’ because he is the provider. Look at her.
Where is the freedom and humanity there, does it exist in homes like these, can this girl really live freely? Look at her becoming accustomed to the sounds of fights until she could not hear them anymore, becoming numb to her stepmother’s cries and to the banging and shouting.
Look at her. She cannot smile on the outside and as she grows she continues to search for freedom and identity from the inside. She creates her invisible bubble; only she knows it is there and it shields her.
I see you shaking your head. What hope is there for her if she is not acting her anger out? Will she crack and probably end up in a mental institution? But this girl is strong and resilient. She knew what she was doing. She planned the right time to run away from this unkind situation to an unknown situation wishing that it might be better than here. Only to land up in a worse one. Because what could she do? She had to be an adult early; she needed a sense of belonging and love just to have relief from the home situation. Can you understand this? How sexual relations with a stranger are easier than those with her father? But seeking that relief ended up being her biggest mistake. It led to her current health condition. And now I have to ask you a question. I need you to think carefully. Is she a victim of her situation or is it that she did not know that she was one of many other victims of the bigger system? The vulnerability created by her situation led to that mistake. And why? How could this happen to someone born to be free, living in a society that believes in being humane? What went wrong?
And could anything ever go right for her? She learned that you can easily get lost in the tunes, sounds and rhythms of life. She also learned that it was possible to find herself, to smile, love, have peace, be humble and hold fast to the encouraging principles and values of humanity. That it was possible to shed tears, not of sadness, but of joy and happiness and to hold her head high, liberate her from the childhood monsters that lived in her dream. That it might be possible to see men differently and find those positive male role models. That she could relate to others who had the same fears that she did, that she had the power to encourage others to find solutions to the problems of an unnatural and unjust world. She learned that she could find strength in humanity and she learned to trust again.
But how, you ask. How could a girl who had suffered so much do this? It wasn’t easy. Self-liberation, self-esteem and shaping a new identity are all processes that need help. There is no short cut. At the age of seven years her father told her that she was worthless and he said this repeatedly as she grew. What did she do? She tackled it head on and she proved him wrong. First she went into therapy. Then she went back to school. She showed that she was worth something.
You look relieved. You were worried about her, weren’t you? Don’t be. She’s strong. She’s a fighter, a survivor. Educating herself gave new meaning to humanity and she gained a sense of control over her destiny.
And then, wonder of wonders, she found a new home, filled with people full of energy, many of whom had suffered the same injustices as her.
She found the Treatment Action Campaign, representative of new hope and home, a group that brings the true meaning of humanity to those forgotten or even denied by society.
Don’t worry about her. She now draws strength and courage from working with other young women who face similar challenges in their life. She works with them as a collective to revive our hopes and dreams to be reality. And through her work, and the work of others like her she hopes that our ears will no longer be deaf to the sounds, tunes and rhythms of life. Because now she knows that life actually has singing birds early in the morning, that there are bright full moons that bring the honest natural light. That we can rise above all like the sun rising above the sea and mountains in the morning giving us new day light. Sounds that we hear every day do not have to have to be the sounds that we have to get used to, we can choose to listen to the beautiful and inspiring sounds of our humanity that show how unique we are and change the bad rhythms of the bad sounds by adding a tunes and drums in the velocity and come up with a beautiful melody. Humaneness is possible although it does not always come easily and it is not as obvious as we think.
And so here she is, looking at humanity and humaneness again. Still trying to make sense of it all. The sounds of life have different velocities and rhythms. Sounds of humanity are those rhythms and velocities. We may find comfort in the sounds and tunes, but when life seems impossible and stripped of humaneness, the art of living comes from knowing how to deal with the different sounds so that a life can come to life again.