What happens when someone asks you who you are? You try to answer the question in the shortest amount of time by using adjectives, which can help create an image that resembles you the most.
By doing so, you can describe your image but not your true self.
Unless you take the listener through the journey you’ve had so far, it’s difficult to give her a fair idea of who you are, much less allow her to get to know you completely.
People may have different qualities, skills and mindsets but the one thing we all have in common, which paradoxically makes us unique too, is our story- the tale that knows us inside out.
Listening to someone’s experiences of his or her life is a refreshing and empowering way of riding in his or her roller-coaster of highs and lows, and eventually, reflecting on your own.
The Concept Of A Human Library
In a traditional library, you borrow a book you wish to read.
At a human library, instead of books, you can “borrow” people. People with unique life stories volunteer to be the “books.”
For a certain period of time, you can listen to their stories, which are as engrossing and as fascinating as any, and ask them any question that comes to your mind.
Many of the stories are based on some kind of stereotype or stigmatized topic. You can talk to a soldier suffering from PTSD. Or an accident survivor. Or A homeless person. Or a refugee. Or a woman living with HIV.
The Human Library Organization was formed in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2000.
Ronni Abergel, his brother, and some colleagues hosted a four-day event during a major Northern European festival, to raise awareness about violence among youth.
After this event was successful, Abergel founded the Human Library Organization, which has spread to a lot of countries ever since.
Why There’s A Need For Human Libraries In India
The concept is still new in India, even though metros like Delhi, Hyderabad, and Mumbai organised a few events on this in the last couple of years.
In a country as diverse as India, empathy and understanding are indispensable to weave a strong social fabric.
I get appalled when I hear about mob lynchings, honor killings, racial segregation, and other heinous crimes that occur in the country.
My blood boils and my skin crawls at the thought that humans have forgotten what it means to respect their own life, let alone that of others.
We lack compassion and concern for others. We fail to treat them as equal beings because we don’t empathize enough with them.
I feel that human libraries can sensitize people towards each other.
When you hear about someone else’s struggles and experiences, you form a connection with them because human emotions come into the play.
The human library encourages people to dispel stereotypes, challenge their own preconceived notions, learn from a person they might otherwise judge wrongly.
This is effective because you get to hear the story in person. You can see the emotions a person goes through while sharing a heartfelt experience.
Needless to say, it is also a great way to vent your emotions when you become the “book” that others learn from.
How We Should Popularize The Human Library
It is wonderful to participate in a curated event where there would be people from different backgrounds, that you may not have access to normally.
However, please don’t wait for an event to be organised by some organisation or society. Plan your own human library in your college, workplace, or residential area.
Begin with people you think you have judged a certain way but don’t know too well. Take the initiative of hearing their story and you will realise how your judgement will change once you put yourself in their shoes.
Please don’t dishonor your life by being confined in petty boxes of judgement. As humans, we ought to be inclusive and accepting of others.
If we wish to make the world a better place, we have to grow our mental faculties and allow our heart to feel the best of emotions for ourselves and others.
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