I am back in Madras after a four-year gap. Even though the city goes by a new name, Chennai, and is growing in good ways and bad, it remains eerily familiar. Coming back brings a wave of memories I have not thought about for a long time. I see familiar faces that have long since moved onto to other roles and cities. I find myself navigating the city with layered images playing themselves against each other. It is all so familiar and yet so different.
What has not changed is the disparity between those that have and those that do not. There is no question that the middle and upper classes of society have grown. The presence of Audis and other luxury cars is undeniable testimony. The sight of a crippled man being wheeled down the street by a friend on a flat trolley reminded me that suffering and pain are universal. In every community, individuals fight against overwhelming odds. Regardless of economic standing, it feels like the world is against you.
In large cities, there is always a dark side. In the shadows, “the hapless fool is kicked to the ground, the unlucky victim is brutally axed.” (Psalm 10.10) Occasionally the newspaper captures the brutality, but most of the time the events go by unnoticed by the majority. As I ended yesterday, I watched individuals coming and going. The day’s conversations replayed as a backdrop to my imagination.
The difference between victims and those with hope is, from observation, a simple one. In the first, there is nobody by the victim. In the latter, individuals are surrounded by friends and others that care. Victims often end up fighting alone. Those with hope share the battle with others. One for all and all for one is a cliché that is alive in their lives.
Today’s dawn has brought old sounds to life. The dust and heat of the day are already on us. There is a lingering question that can only be answered by my openness. Am I alone or with others? One answer is Hope.