I have listened, and observed
In a circle of peace, where people from another part of the world
Promised one another non-judgement and respect
Although they’ve never met
(Why can’t we even do it with the neighbours of our own?)
My thorn: I am trapped between academic and practical worlds
(And you are anchoring me down, thank you)
My rose: I am trying to give up my ego (or the art of not giving a * anymore)
And thank you Lederach, for suggesting how we “un-numb” a person, by the vibration of
empathy. What about Non-violence communication inside my own body?
Freire gently reminds me that education is not a competition of grades
But somehow children are still discarded as garbage
if they fail to fit in a box labelled “submissive enough to serve the world”.
And we keep saying “we must”, “they have to”, “they should” …
Are we not colonizing others with our narrow perception too?
Please make sure you are not stuffing your children with knowledge
yet forgetting to tell them that kindness matters too,
so that they are well-equipped with depression and a closed heart,
ready for a society that judges humans based on how fat their wallet is
Oh and the concept of humans too, one that seems normal and harmless
yet indeed so problematic, with its endless violence and iniquitous preach
That not too once upon a time ago,
people still thought skin colors made them a better creature than someone else.
But then the UNESCO said it was “a myth, a delusion that prevented humans from their normal
What is normal development, if not according to Western standards again?
European, US – top of the game,
South of the equator – still got much to learn?
Building ego is the life purpose
But respecting nature is not the way forward
And don’t even ask why I hate the word “sub-altern” …And love? The word that stays stuck in my throat, unable to get out
As we were taught that without the acknowledgement of a man, a girl would just be another
That somehow love is more of a contract where women exchange a whole life of unpaid labour
to their own development,
an insurance for whichever wife who can produce an heir to her husband
And if your children don’t succeed, it’s because the mothers failed to teach them
but fathers always take the credit, if a child makes it to med school.
Romanticism and masculinity are toxic, but who cares if you’re still in the possession of a man?
So how do I answer my professor:
What is love in your culture?
What would I tell him?
But let’s not collapse under the weight of the pedagogy of fear
For there are still individuals who are giving their best
To share little but substantial sparks
(As our network of दीप)
And shall we bear in mind the wise words of Nelson Mandela:
May our choices reflect our hope; not how afraid we are?
About the author
Viet Anh “Tabby” is a master’s student in International Peace, Conflict, and Development Studies and an active member of Semillero circle, she believes that she cannot change the world so she resorts to minding her own business in hope of showing people how free it would be not having to think that you are better than someone else thus trying to fix them the way you think is best for them.