I must have been 13 or 14 when I read ‘Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul’. I remember one story in particular. It was about a girl who shaved off her head to support her best friend who was going through cancer treatments. I then learnt that one could donate one’s hair to make wigs for cancer patients and I found myself toying with the idea of donating mine… but being a teen, I forgot all about it and moved on.
It’s been over a decade since that thought occurred to me. A lot of things happened. Most important among those, I grew up and the world changed.
I woke up one day and terror attacks had become a reality. So had extinction of species, horrible disease outbreaks, natural calamities, gruesome, heartbreaking crimes against humans and animals, large-scale disasters, climate change and every other horrible thing that could happen to the planet. One morning I woke up and realized that this world isn’t a world anymore. It is just a jigsaw that was being held together by some glue that was now giving way and the pieces were steadily falling apart, breaking a beautiful ‘whole’ into a million tiny, ridiculously senseless pieces. This was around the same time I was old enough to know that I wanted to have a family; with a husband, children and pets. But every time I opened a newspaper, my heart quaked. I kept asking myself, is this the world I want to bring a child into? If I do, how do I explain to my baby why the world is the way it is? And when my kids ask what I did to stop it from being this way, what would I say? And I realized I didn’t have an answer for that day.
So I decided to prepare that answer. I few weeks ago, I turned 27. I decided to use the day as a starting point and did what I had wanted to do since the day I read that story about the girl who went bald for her friend. I donated my hair. I went to a salon, got it nicely washed and blow dried, braided and then sheared off. I gave them to ‘Cope With Cancer’ an organization that helps cancer patients, which includes making wigs for underprivileged women. Then I shared a picture on Facebook with details of what I’d done in the hope that more people would be encouraged to donate hair.
Then the comments and messages started pouring in. I expected the ‘kudos’ and ‘amazing’ responses. But then there were people who called me brave.. courageous… selfless… And I thought I should probably clarify myself here.
Donating my hair was NOT a selfless move. It is probably the most selfish thing I’ve ever done.
There is a big misunderstanding with the concept of ‘doing good’ these days. It is no longer something for you to do when you have extra resources. It is no longer an optional, extra curricular activity. Look around… the world is a playground with evil running rampant everywhere. Haven’t you heard of the epics? They talk of wars of Good verses Evil. Wars. Not tea parties, not conferences, not exchange of ideas. Wars. And no war was won by sitting calmly and tossing a bullet in every now and then. Make no mistake, this is a war!
If you open your eyes and see the world, you’d know the kind of decay that is ruining us. George Carlin told us how the planet doesn’t need saving; it will survive the human species and continue to exist.. it is we who are in trouble. And we will probably be the only species in the history of this planet to have destroyed ourselves! Is this the world you want to hand over to your children? A world doomed to finish them off? God knows, I don’t want that. I want them to have a world with hope. A world that is slowly being pieced back together. One that I feel proud in handing to them, not ashamed. I want it to be a gift to them, not a debt that I pass on! And I am waging a war of Good against Evil to be able to do that.
That is why I will do everything in my capacity to counter everything evil in this world. That’s why I donated my hair to counter one person who abandoned someone who’s sick. That is why I rescued a dog and gave him a home to negate one animal abandoned and hurt by a human. That is why I avoid plastic bags and reuse everything I can to counter those polluting the planet. I compliment random strangers to make them feel better to counter people who go out of their way to hurt others. I donate my clothes to organizations like Goonj that make good use of them to counter people who create senseless waste. This is not a list of amazing things I do because I am selfless. This is a list of my most selfish deeds. My inventory of ammunition against evil. This is how I fight.
I am NOT a selfless, kind gentle girl who likes to help. I am a selfish, ferocious goddess of war. I am tomorrow’s mother, fighting for my unborn children. Kindness, generosity, gentleness are not my attributes. They are my weapons of mass destruction. And I will keep fighting so that when my kid asks me, what did I do to save the world, I won’t have a helpless non-answer. I will have answers. And if you have any desire to face your children with your head held high, you’d join me. You’d do everything… EVERYTHING in your capacity to help. This is no longer a passive, ‘do it in your free time’ kind of Good… This is an active, ‘do it with every breath you’ve got’ kind of Good.
You don’t need me to tell you what to do. The list is there, all around. This is a war zone. Jump in, grab a weapon and give it your best. Adopt an animal, Adopt a child, stop using plastic, create a replacement for plastic, give someone a smile or give them a home, feed a hungry child or a hungry village, fight off a child molester, stand up for your domestically abused friend, save water, save energy, save a teen from drugs or save the world from a nuclear war… do whatever is in your capacity. No deed is too small. Every effort counts.
In a world that’s falling apart, mild selflessness won’t do. Be as aggressively selfish as you can; do it only for your own children and your honor in their eyes. But for the love of God, fight… Fight till the day an act of kindness and love doesn’t become a rarity that is hailed as ‘brave’ or ‘courageous’… but seen as the most normal thing to do. Fight… So that when our children wake up one fine morning, instead of finding a world that’s falling apart like a million, tiny, ridiculously senseless pieces of a jigsaw that no longer have a glue to hold them together, they will wake up to find a world that is healing… a world with the hope of a future…