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Amidst Silenced Actions and Louder Inactions

By Saroy Rakotoson

March 28, 2024

In Response to Cracks in Concrete

Mohsin Hamid’s essay is for me the “flowers from cracks in concrete” he describes. Many voices have been lost in the mainstream dialogues and yet his words still bloom like flowers through a rock-solid foundation. He shies away from the shadows and the smoke to contrast the grim realities he denounces with the aspirations we normally associate with modernity and economic progress. The piece makes clear that unchecked pursuit of material gain has come at a horrifying cost to the deterioration of the environment and the degradation of human rights and dignity.

Hamid underlines the difference in experiences and while he referred to the atrocity of starvation and voluntary fasting, he also illuminates the differences of silence. There’s a silence born out of fear, due to the weight of oppressive systems. Then there’s the silence of hypocrisy, where powerful actors turn a blind eye to atrocities while preaching peace and equality.

Further, his narration of his children's reactions—their helplessness in the face of injustice, their questioning of the moral trajectory of society—is especially powerful. This reminds us of the stark differences between those who are in power and those who are not. He voices what we have been trying to express, this sort of fear and frustration for this world we live in and the necessary transformation we need. Through this lens, the indictment of global hypocrisy hits even harder. How can we credibly claim to fight for freedom while turning a blind eye to massacres?

Ultimately, it galvanizes the reader to reject complacency, this Western-centric world we live in, and envision alternative frameworks. It is a call to action amidst desolation, urging us to break free from this world order. The silence is too loud, and the voices are mute.

Saroy Rakotoson (G’25) is a first-year student in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at Georgetown University.