Tammy T. Stone
There’s No War in World: People of the Heart
There are people of the head and people of the heart. And since countries are extensions of people, comprising collections of them, it makes sense to say that there are also countries that think more, or feel more.
India is, without a doubt, a country of the heart. It has the biggest heart of any country I’ve seen. This heart has been nurtured and cultivated for thousands of years, I can only imagine.
Hearts like this don’t develop overnight, any more than we find ourselves capable of opening up to others, to ourselves, to life, in a short time.
We’re lucky – those of us who struggle with closed hearts – if we can make tiny strides in one brief lifetime. But for some, big-heartedness comes naturally, and by this, I mean that for whatever reason, the person or country has come already equipped with the makings of big-heartedness. Is it genetic or inherited? Does it come from one’s immediate surroundings, in the case of a country, it’s neighbours, its own history?
None of this answers the question, which is why psychology struggles with questions of this kind, even as scientists of the more ‘rigorous’ branches move farther and farther away from these areas, not purported to be in its domain.
No matter. Theories abound and it is up to us to decide for ourselves how important it is to understand every aspect of the heart question. But the feeling you get in India is palpable. People do not avoid each other and they do not avoid you. The men walk holding hands with huge smiles. They laugh, talk, joke. The women congregate together too, existing in communion – though you still don’t see as much of this out on the streets as you do the men in most places.
People are curious about you, and want to know where you come from, where you’ve been in India, why you’re here, where you’re going and how they can help you (and perhaps what they can sell to you), with the most amazing mixture of genuine friendliness and good-humoured self-interest I’ve seen. And very often, a great cup of chai thrown in.
Every encounter with someone, his or her large family and their culture as filtered through the endless shades of vivid colour here, is imbued with the heartiest/heartfelt-heart-based emotion. It’s all heart! (Despite the fierce mind-intelligence I also encounter everywhere.) Not to over-dramatize, but sometimes it feels like the entire country is bordered by a gargantuan circle of people holding hands, chests thrust out in humility, exuberance, well-wishing and love, singing their song of welcome, entreating you to enjoin with gusto.
Leaving India only confirms how much in the head we are most of the time, and where to go to if we need a refresher course on where to reclaim our hearts once again.