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A beautiful sunset at Marine Drive, Mumbai, where reclamation for the Coastal Road Project is taking place.

Why do we hesitate to speak out? Making space for change and growth

Do we feel guilty? Guilty for not recycling our trash. Guilty for giving away our data for free. Guilty for buying fast fashion. Guilty for owning leather. Guilty for working at a company with questionable ethics. Guilty for eating meat. Guilty for asking for help. Guilty for not fighting an injustice. Guilty for turning the other way. Guilty for not understanding someone’s struggle. Guilty for complaining. Guilty for not speaking out.

How guilty should we feel?

Much to their chagrin, I keep pestering my loved ones to ‘speak up’ about everything that’s going on in the world (the options are endless right now, to be honest). Their reactions range from “but what difference will it make” to “I don’t know what to say about all this” and often “what will people say? I don’t want to get called out.”

It made me wonder, why do we hesitate to speak out about something? Is it because we can’t figure out where to start? Maybe we’re afraid we don’t know enough? Maybe because we don’t want to offend people. Or perhaps we might be afraid of being attacked for our past actions. Many times it’s because we might feel guilt and complicity on some level.

It’s easy to forget that we’re all a product and part of established systems; ones that have been built over millennia. Society, cultures and communities that have evolved over centuries; amidst socio-political dynamics that we have often no direct control over. We inherit histories and legacies that are passed down, but we have to take ownership of them. Our prejudices and biases are learned; we can unlearn them. Ethics and values can change over time, we have to steer them in the right direction.

There’s no shame in not knowing things — we can’t know everything. We are not born fully aware and knowledgeable, but we are able to educate ourselves. We cannot control or speak for anyone else, but we can and should remain accountable for our actions. It’s both possible and imperative for us to chart a way forward that reflects our current mindset and truths.

Humans resist change, we find it uncomfortable and unsettling. But I’m reminding myself everyday that change is good for us, change is growth.

PS: Two initiatives that I’m actively trying to support are the efforts, and the other is the campaign. As someone that lives along the Mumbai coastline, and as a nature lover, these are causes close to my heart. If you’d like to support either of these, they could both use your help and voice. Please message or comment to know more.

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A close up of some of the reclamation work that’s taking place for the Coastal Road Project in Mumbai.

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