I do think we should not focus on the negative but the greatest challenge of all is defining terms that are negative or positive. Most of all, who is it that makes these definitions?
Let us take the example of Gurmehar Kaur. I had heard about her a long while ago when she was encouraged when she began on a mission towards peace.
Her father, Capt Mandeep was with 4 Rashtriya Rifles when militants stormed his camp in Kupwara in August 1999. He was killed in the gun battle that followed when he was just 30.
Gurmehar has spent almost all her years missing her father. She was two and her sister, Bani, was five months old when their father was killed.
In May 2016, she was the subject of a silent video by Ram Subramaniam, an ad filmmaker whose Facebook page — Voice of Ram — aims to “create a positive change”.
In the video, Gurmehar recounts how as a six-year-old she tried to stab a burqa-clad woman because she believed Muslims killed her father. Gurmehar is who she is today hugely because of the parenting and the right values she has received from her mother. She explained to her that it was war that killed her father, not people and certainly not a particular community. “I fight for peace between India and Pakistan,” she has often said and considers herself a soldier of a different kind.
Though her life has been quite tough, she has learnt that hatred does not take us forward in any way. “Try and affect people in a positive way, that’s the only way to bring about a change,” she said in a Facebook chat on 30 January 2016.
This day is of course significant as it is the day we lost the greatest peacenik of all, Mahatma Gandhi. I am certain had he been here, he would have surely been proud of this young girl. Having lost her father and suffered more than many of us, the fact that she has embarked on a journey towards peace shows her as a person with tremendous emotional maturity.
Gurmehar has written a book on life in the forces and peace between the two neighbours. “We can have a cordial relationship, we don’t need to hate each other,” she said during the chat, as she took questions from people.
Her peace push has not gone unnoticed. She has quite a following in Pakistan and she hopes to visit the neighbouring country this year.
People are now blaming her for asking for a right to freedom of expression. This is not directly related to her but she knows this kind of freedom is very important not just for her but for the students and adults too. If friendship and peace and thought to be negative, where are we heading towards?
It is high time we join hands with her to understand what true heroism and maturity is all about and raise a toast to her and her ilk.