In the Name of Truth
This is coming to you at 4:56 in the morning, and I’m not sure whether it’s Friday of Saturday, but that doesn’t really matter right now.
I’ve yet to have one night here in India that I have slept soundly. I always end up waking up at 2 or at 4, which is fine. I usually just pop my headphones in and try to drift back away. But tonight, or early morning is different. There have been hundreds of thoughts floating through my mind recently. I’ve been trying to understand and classify them, though I’ve failed. I’ve tried to understand them because I thought I know myself and have failed because I really don’t know myself the way I think I do. However this morning about 10 minutes ago I woke up and finally figured some stuff out. It’s a very simple idea, and we’ve heard over and over but I never really, really wresteld with it until now: truth.
A couple nights ago the 17 of us had a Harkness/Socratic discussion about the works of the Mahatma, Dr. King, and Paul Farmer. We spoke about a host of ideas that I hadn’t considered. One of asked what if you earned a fortune cleaning someone’s toilet, and earned nothing designing someone’s computer? What would you choose? Throughout the discussion, I felt a deeper connection grow between each one of us. After the discussion, the group went back up to our rooms to freshen up for dinner. I was walking next to Ms. Tous and I started to speak to her about the conversation She gave me her opinion and as we entered the 3rd floor hallway. Like the normal course of any conversation, we diverged and ended up talking about knowing thyself, what’s really best for us, and all that touchy stuff.
She told me about her life, and how she hadn’t really realized until she was an adult that we’re all in a constant state of becoming. She said from birth we’re all in a constant state of changing and becoming, and then we die. Sad, I thought. I guess I agreed with her, but isn’t it sad that we don’t really know ourselves completely? They always told me in church that only God knows us completely, that he knows us better than we know ourselves. Interesting.
Then she began to shift some feelings inside me (by this time the pretty much the whole group had congregated around us, but I still felt that it was between me and her). She challenged me by forcing me to look in deep—deeper than I’ve gone. I asked her, if I’m suppose to love our neighbor and do what’s best in the name of love, doesn’t that mean me loving and pleasing my parents? I knew that pleasing my parents would mean me leaving Exeter successful, going into an amazing school, and leading a great life, maybe going to medical school or something. To me, a successful life would mean putting my parents in the paradise they deserve. Now that I’m at boarding school, I can only experience 3 months of the year the toil and labor my parents put themselves through everyday to give my 3 siblings and I everlasting love. I’m constantly spending the money my parents have toiled for. This is something I’ve realized and I want to pay it back. I want to put my parents in the paradise they honestly do deserve. Only way to do this is to make the cash and give my parents anything the want. Send them on cruise after cruise. Fly them to Hawaii, anything. Ms. Tous asked me really what was important to me and in one way or another and I told her this.
The end of my conversation with MS. Tous was a blur to me because the only thing I can remember doing is forcing myself not to break down in front of everyone, because I felt it coming. I felt my head pounding. My eyes became hot and my vision doubled. I was smiling on the outside, deceiving everyone telling them I was just going to drop off my bag then head down to dinner, but when I entered my room down the hall I shut the door.
I couldn’t stop. I thought I was going to ball forever. My head was pounding like crazy. I just sat there, balling, hands on head. My eyes became bloodshot and my cheeks wet. Worst part was I didn’t know why. Was I crying for myself? For my parents? For the mal-nourished toddlers I’d met that day? For the social injustice everywhere? I didn’t have a damn clue. Dear God, please help please, if you’re there you’ll help me. Please.
I did stop, eventually, and what happened next was pretty cool. It was like the emergence of tears cleared something up in me. Those tears opened up another channel in me, almost like my chakra was spinning up through my body and out of the crown of my head more clearly. But I found something more. I found the power of truth. The Mahatma’s whole mission: Satyagraha, or truth force.
At Exeter and Andover we the students become family. But are we really truthful with everyone? Think about it, if there are students reading this, think: we come to school on different playing fields. Some may have more money than others, or know more math or be a better write. It’s hard to be truthful because there’s so much pressure coming from every angle. So, maybe your tongue slips and you tell your closet friend you got a B+ and not that B that you really got. Maybe you force yourself into a relationship that you don’t really want but everyone else is in one.
Coming to India all 14 students are on the same playing field, experiencing the same things for the first time, together. We all didn’t know what to expect and in that, I was comfortable because I’d have 13 other students to talk to. Another thing is that all of us were honest with each other. We’re honest with Mr. Mundra, Ms. Marshall and Ms. Tous about how we feel. Many of the people I’ve met in India are truthful. Those volunteers working at the Seva Café, those working at Manav Sadhna, the women working at Gramshree, the little boy who I tried to show how to play slide.
Satyagraha. What if we at Exeter or Andover implemented this?
Many people think that we’ve traveled across the world to teach, or build communities or what ever, and they’re so wrong, because I’ve done the opposite. I’ve been taught and I’ve been loved by the people here. I think this is because the people who’ve done this are truthful with themselves and as a result with each other. Or maybe the other way around, not completely sure yet.
So I invite you, I implore you, I challenge you and lastly, I dare you. I invite you to step out of your comfort zone. Not just splashing your feet around, but to dive into the pool of uncertainty. I implore you to look into the world with truthful eyes, and a truthful mind. I challenge you to be open with someone who cares about you. And lastly, I dare you to live Satyagraha. I dare you to live in the name of the message the Mahatma died for, to live in the name of truth.