Red graffiti and a call for civic responsibility

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There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” Margaret J. Wheatley

The city I live in woke up one February morning to a disturbing sight. The air was nippy, with winter still lingering around the corner. As I set out on my twelve-kilometre journey to college, I couldn’t ignore the blatant defacement that had marred the city’s walls. They had been ruthlessly spray-painted in red with a singular, cryptic message: “AAPKA APNA, J—- K—–“, nothing more, nothing less. The words left me puzzled as I kept wondering about the identity of this person. Was he a journalist, an actor, a celebrity or a local gangster? I had no clue. The timing seemed off for political manoeuvres, with elections still a distant event. 

As I navigated through the city roads, I realized that every available space on the walls was blighted with the same words. On my way back home, I took a detour and to my utter disbelief, the walls of these roads not only bore the stains of the red words but also posters flaunting a smiling visage of the person whose name had been spray painted. A few days later, I witnessed similar posters adorning not only the outskirts of the city but also the walls of the villages in proximity to the city. 

A sinking feeling settled in my chest as I beheld the ubiquitous sight. The repetitive nature of the graffiti, like a scar on the city’s facade, spoke volumes about the extent of the vandalism. The sight left me with a profound sense of disappointment and concern for the state of public spaces. Whoever this person was, it appeared that civic duties and responsibilities were of little importance to him. His actions seemed solely focused on self-promotion, regardless of the consequences or the impact on the community.

This is not a lone case. With elections due in the country, politicians and political aspirants will try to outdo each other by pasting posters upon posters during their election campaigns. This defacement of public property is not just an act of vandalism; it is a disregard for the shared spaces that define a community. It undermines the aesthetic appeal of the surroundings, creating an atmosphere of neglect and disrepair. 

Beyond the visual impact, it also reflects a lack of respect for communal spaces and a disregard for the efforts of those who maintain them. Moreover, public place defacement bears economic implications too, as restoring the defaced areas requires time, resources, and money that could be better utilized elsewhere. Ultimately, the defacement of public property is a reflection of societal values and the level of care for the environment we inhabit. And yet, we vote for such vandals who exhibit complete disregard towards community spaces.

In an age where publicity and advertisement can be efficiently achieved through social media, resorting to acts of defacement is not just unnecessary but also barbaric. Governments should strongly condemn such behaviour and enforce stringent measures against individuals who engage in acts of defacement. Of course, there are laws and regulations in the country that prohibit harm to public property, yet these are more in letter than in spirit. 

Therefore, public awareness about the consequences of defacing public property is crucial. Such actions not only deface the physical environment but also impact the community’s sense of pride and well-being. It is essential to educate individuals about the negative effects of these actions on society as a whole. By fostering a sense of ownership and responsibility towards public spaces, we can work towards preserving them for future generations.

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Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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