Living in a metropolitan city like Delhi comes with a lot of dangers. Dangers of safety (especially for women), dangers for your lungs (Delhi is one the most polluted cities in the world), dangers of getting late for work because you got stuck in traffic, amongst many other popular features of a metro city. The danger I am going to talk about in this piece is not explicitly felt and therefore usually ignored but is closely linked with lives of all of us. And this danger is that of ignorance.
Ignorance, unlike the popular English proverb is more of a curse than bliss, when it has the potential to harm the prosperity of people and the planet. Zooming in the context here, ignorance about the lives, the problems, the happiness and the opinions of the people around you is quite a usual phenomenon in a city like Delhi. One is surrounded by people of different class, social backgrounds, professions but one very carefully chooses only those people for discussions in whom they find certain resemblance with respect to nature and the portfolio in society.
There is a fairly strict line between the people we meet for service and the people we call friends or our circle. Most of the acquaintances are the ones who provide us some service, milkman getting us milk, maids cleaning our house or at office, auto drivers driving us to the office, waiter at a restaurant. Our circle of friends where most of the discussions on personal issues, on general topics of discussions, usually happen belongs to the same social metrics as of our own. My office colleague, my old college friend, my morning walk acquaintance, they all belong to my circle because I share a common space, a common interest with them.
In this scenario, we don’t realise what we lose as a society. Two groups of people are formed. The ones with access to all kinds of information from years of grooming and access to the fast paced internet and the other group who are unaware of the basic knowledge of home treatment to cough, a good book for learning mathematics to things like policies and rights they may avail as a citizen of the country. The most important part is that these two groups continuously interact with each other daily, innumerable times but yet the gap remains unfilled.
Most of our discussions on personal issues, political opinions, are knowledge of health, education is usually confined to our circle of friends, and we forget the wealth of opportunity in building a conversation with people beyond that circle. It’s not about having more friends, it’s about having conversations beyond your friends’ circle.
Not building such conversations is a waste of an opportunity, an opportunity to provide some casual information for you but critical information for the auto-driver that drives you to office, to ask simple questions of ‘how you doing’ from your milkman, your laundry person and many more you meet every day. Seemingly trivial concern of information access to the second group of people is not a small problem. May be the responsibility is not ours but that of the government but the point here is beyond a social good. It is about helping your own self too. It will help you know the different sides of the world and to relate to all, it can help you build entrepreneurial idea out of the need, understanding and concerns of the people, it helps you to make informed choice as a consumer, act as a responsible citizen. The list is endless. Meeting people every day without making the best productive use of the amount of knowledge any person can carry out of his experience is difficult to quantify but is definitely huge. And a smart society cannot choose to miss utilising such experiences for better understanding and development of the society.
The bottom-line of the article is simple. There is no need to think before you build a conversation beyond your circle of friends and family. These conversations are a way to cure your ignorance and you never know, the idea or the inspiration you’re looking for comes from one such conversation.