I have always felt that the people of South Asia in general, but India and Pakistan in particular, live in many centuries at the same time. In these pluralistic societies, there are communities and individuals that live in 17th and 18th centuries, and there are those that live in the late 20th and 21st centuries. Class and culture are responsible for this dichotomy. Class because wealth makes it possible for certain people to leave behind the past and look forward. It is not just about an abundance of gadgets, it is also the education, exposure to the world existing outside the country due to increase in travel, and the internet that have made cultural cocoons decay. But on the other hand, there are people who may have cell phones but are not ready to let go of their old paths and values, because their culture insists on a certain way of life and point-of-view about the world existing outside the community. The same scenario has come to surface in U.S. during the pandemic. The 20th century has passed by large pockets of the population. Refusing to get vaccinated is one such facet of this mindset. Relying on conspiracy theories that suit their approach to life is another one. And insisting on a racial divide is also an old-fashioned approach to get power.
What keeps sections of the population stuck at one point in time? Is it just lack of exposure to others? Lack of resources? Cultural and religious influences? Or is it that certain parts of the globe have energies that propel them forward? A crazy idea? Another conspiracy? I hope not. But the point is: change is inevitable. We live in the space age. Science only moves forward. It moves forward with each experiment and each study helps it to draw new conclusions or refine the old ones. Some of us stubbornly stick to tradition, and superstition, but this just hinders us in moving forward and in making our lives easier, since tradition often and superstition always insist on ignoring scientific data. Don’t get me wrong. Not all traditions are obsolete, and what comes in cultural heritage does not always put blocks in our path. And not all experiments and studies follow scientific protocols but when they do, they are reliable, as reliable as anything can be in this physical world. So, shouldn’t we rely on something tangible, something that has deep roots in our reality for our well-being? Vaccination is one of those tangible things that can take us to the other side of the tunnel of this COVID dilemma. But only people who rely on conspiracies and superstitions for clarity in life refuse vaccination. The path to get out of this pandemic is clear. We can even see the light at the end of the tunnel. The only question is: are we going to speed up our travel toward light? Or are we going to hinder the speed?
P.S. The artwork in this blog was done by my students during online learning in the last academic year.