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We are Not Heroes Yet.

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In 2017, I accompanied my mother on a walk to the bank, where she intended to assist someone with their finances, despite my repeated warnings against such involvement. However, our visit to the bank revealed deeper issues. My mother was subjected to humiliating questioning and treated as if she were involved in suspicious activities. While the funds were legitimate, it became apparent that certain business practices triggered the bank's hostility. The employees were unreasonably difficult, adding unnecessary complications to the process. Despite the innocence of her intentions, the bank's hostility was palpable, with the employees particularly exacerbating the ordeal for her.

As we walked back together, the weight of the substantial sum in her bag, tucked tightly underneath her arms, made my forehead sweat. I couldn't help but marvel at my mother's courage despite her humiliation, all to assist someone else's children. Though she expressed gratitude for the opportunity to aid them, I couldn't shake off my disappointment and disapproval towards her actions and them for involving her and the bank staff's biased hostility. It seemed that they had misconstrued the concept of helping one another entirely. However, at that moment, a realization struck me: who was I to judge when I enjoyed more privilege in society than she did?

The lengthy journey back home uncovered another layer of profound societal issues: how we handle matters perceived as tarnishing one's image or being of low value. While the women in their household diligently uphold their reputation, my mother's dignity seemed to be cast aside without a second thought.

To compound the injustice, there was a palpable concern that we, as children, would deplete their sum. I couldn't shake the feeling that my mother's decision to repay them and their decision to help her should have been on equal footing. It was reminiscent of the portrayal in movies, where individuals of lower standing are exploited to carry out undesirable tasks for those higher up—a reflection of real-life dynamics. This ordeal and my introspection showed how we often compel others to soil their hands to maintain our cleanliness.

My hands remained clean, or so I thought until I realized that I had unwittingly dirtied my father's hands. Even a small act, like not sparing him from the knowledge of a minor misstep, deprived him of the opportunity to retain a modicum of dignity. Perhaps if I had allowed myself to face my corruption, it could have facilitated our healing process.

There were moments of fear when I hesitated to confront the consequences of my mistakes, whether at school or in the bank. Instead, my father would step in on my behalf, bearing the brunt of reprimands for my perceived irresponsibility. I now understand that I maintained the illusion of clean hands.

 

Sometimes, we overlook the necessity of getting our hands dirty to elevate ourselves rather than exploiting those already in dire situations. We must descend and, if possible, help lift others out from the depths alongside us while we ascend. 

If my father were alive today, I would express my gratitude to him, although mere words would hardly suffice to bear the weight of my shortcomings. Reflecting on this, I realize that the value we assign to ourselves, often at the expense of devaluing others, is a futile pursuit. In our relentless quest to uphold our perceived worth, we inadvertently adopt the role of villains depicted in movies who exploit disadvantaged men in return for helping them. We are not heroes but rather perpetrators of our moral degradation.

This is not an attempt to justify my father's actions but an acknowledgment of how we sometimes unfairly leveraged his behavior to maintain our pristine image.

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