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The Real Marathon

Facebook does this cool thing where it shows your memories from a few years ago. It’s nice to be reminded everyday about how old you are and how you’ve wasted so much time online. I subscribe to this ‘see your memories’ thing everyday, mostly to look back and laugh and sometimes cringe at my spelling errors. But I think the incredible thing is how every silly status update and random picture reminds me of what was happening at that time, not just in my life, but also in the world. 

The interesting thing about our behaviour online is that every time something impacts us, as a people, we tend to react and we react aloud. Thanks to social media, we have a time capsule of our reactions to all things - from breakups to volcanos erupting. (well, at least till the internet breaks) A culture of people reacting together can be a comforting thing because we don't feel so alone. We know there's someone else who thinks the same and feels the same. In a way we face it all together, whether it's public outrage towards injustice or the feeling of affirmation when we tick off twenty things on the twenty things you should do when you're twenty something list. 

On the other hand, it can be a cruel thing, making us like like a pack of wolves waiting to pounce on and destroy anything we disagree with, with an unkindness we wouldn't otherwise display. But who can blame us? In the last year we've seen everything from deaths to violent rapes and we've even seen the earth shake - almost as if it was outraged. Who can blame us? Or maybe the question is - who can we blame? - to comfort ourselves for just a moment.  

Tragedies have a way of forcing us all to be on the same page, even if it's just for a moment. When there's a tragedy, it suddenly doesn't matter who you disagree with or who was right or wrong. In that moment we recognise that we are all broken people in a broken world. But what do we do with that moment? Do we abandon it with a mere reaction? Our reactions disappear from someone's newsfeed in seconds. It seems to me like we need something more. Our reactions don't justify our rage. 

We need to turn moments of impulsive reactions into a lifestyle of action. If we really want change  we need to be in it for the long run. 

Easier said than done isn't it? Tragedies also have a way of making us feel helpless. Sometimes we feel like the most we can do is react. 

I spend a lot of time observing our reactions and I've always wanted to tell the world one thing. We are not helpless. We are more than our reactions and we are certainly not powerless. In fact we live in a time where we are more powerful than ever. We can be a community. We can be one voice and we can be the change. 

One of the many things I've learnt being at U&I for five years now is this - change takes time. It's not as quick as we would like it to be, but it's also not as impossible as we think it is. It may take time for a child become an expert at math and fulfil his dream of becoming an engineer, but it is possible. It's also possible for a generation of boys who were taught otherwise to learn to respect women, just because of the young lady who volunteered to stand by them through their failures and help them get through school. Ive learnt that we can’t fix all our issues overnight but in the long run we have the potential to change the mindset of a generation. And that's the real marathon.

What happens when we impact a generation? We impact our future. We have an opportunity to write our story. To define our tomorrow. 

The world could end tomorrow, but I believe we need to be more prepared incase the world doesn't end tomorrow. 

U&i is in it for the long run. I've been here from the time we were a small group people with an idea till date when we are an army of volunteers spanning 5 cities in India, impacting the next generation with not just education but with good values. We don't just teach English and Science, we teach kindness and respect. We teach equality. We teach love.

The real marathon is not just ten kilometres. We've been running a marathon much longer than that. And we'll keep running. Because the long run is as long as it takes. 

Invest in us, and you'll be writing the future with us. 

This isn't just charity. This is social change. I'm not asking for donations. I'm asking for investments. Invest and run with us. Let's run into a better world together. 

The last time I hit ‘see your memories’ I found an article I wrote two years ago which helped me raised over INR 80,000 for U&I. We’ve come a long way since then, and since my spellings have improved substantially and we’ve expanded to 5 cities, I want to try to raise INR 1,00,000 this year. This isn’t for me. It’s for us. Whether we know each other or like each other or agree or disagree is immaterial. Because in the big picture we are literally in the same picture. Let’s make it a beautiful one. One day when you hit 'see my memories' you can look back and say, "Hey! I changed the world." 

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