Fraternity For All: We Are One Global Family
My first memory of the American dream is from 1987, arriving late at night at the Montana State University Campus and finding my dorm closed. Coming straight from the JFK airport, I had my luggage with me and didn’t quite know what to do. I didn’t know a single soul.
My second memory of the American dream was being helped by a group of fellow Indian students who had seen me through a corridor window and offered to let me crash in their dorm room for the night.
Over the years, however, I’ve come to see this story less as a symbol of the American Dream, and more as a tale of fraternity. We were all young students on a journey to improve our lives through education, studying in the same halls that had brought success to many, with our community taking shape the moment one of us needed help, and the others chipped in.
This gesture of fraternity is not only one of my fondest memories, but also one that shaped me. Since then, global human fraternity is something I have strived to imbibe in my everyday life, in my work, and every project I take on.
Fraternity equals help
Fast forward to 2022. A virus has disrupted our lives at every level, and never has the subject of fraternity been more relevant to our global family. The pandemic continues to drive home the importance of solidarity while also highlighting the great divides that exist between communities and countries.
In times like these, when we need not just more resources but also more empathy for all, I find myself thinking deeply about fraternity. Is there more to the word than its use for corporate grandstanding? Does it go beyond being a PR-friendly buzzword? Or a label for college social clubs?
On this International Day of Human Fraternity (February 4), I invite you to reevaluate the true meaning of the word “fraternity.” Though the Latin root of fraternity, frater means brother, but fraternity is not confined to any gender.
As I discovered on my first night at Montana State, help is the cornerstone of fraternity. Not transactional, eye-for-an-eye help, but real, raw, unrequited help. Help that is tolerant. Help that does not hold the beneficiary to account, but simply shows them that they are loved. Fraternity is not about one-upmanship, but about dialogue.
The big picture
Fraternity is also central to Wholistic Wellbeing. It invites us to learn from one another as we grow in our journeys as wellbeing seekers. And that’s why I am committed to inspiring fraternity in my homeland, Punjab, in India.
The RoundGlass Foundation, which I founded in 2018, works to improve the lives of children, youth, and women and help communities and the environment flourish by making significant social, cultural, and economic investments in the state. We support government agencies and build partnerships across social and private sectors to implement initiatives that enhance self-reliance, co-existence, and sustainability in the region.
It is my fondest hope that the RoundGlass Foundation will transform the state of Punjab by enabling Wholistic Wellbeing for all. Through our actions, we hope to inspire tolerance, celebrate pluralistic traditions, build mutual respect, and respect religious diversity and beliefs to promote human fraternity and influence the entire community for the benefit of future generations.
The Foundation believes in encouraging fraternity at a grassroots level. Through the month of January, we celebrated and encouraged fraternity among kids at our Digital Community Centers across villages. On January 13, as we celebrated the festival of Lohri, marking the end of winter and the start of the harvesting season, children in 50 villages of Punjab came out to play, learn, and celebrate the festival by singing songs and narrating the folklore of Lohri. Our changemakers organized games, dance competitions and poster-making activities for them.
On National Girl Child Day, January 24, we inspired fraternity between boys and girls by honoring the value of female empowerment. And finally, on India’s Republic Day, January 26, children commemorated their cultural heritage as part a modern, independent nation, coming together in jubilation.
Fraternity is not to be learned or conceptualized, but rather experienced. Go out and hug your friends. Welcome togetherness. After all, we are one big family.