What’s the importance of a leaf to a tree? The roots propel the tree upward and give it a foundation to survive rough conditions. The trunk itself gives the tree weight, gravitas, and stability in times of conflict and bad weather. But the leaves, especially on trees like this that don’t bear fruit, leave the observer wondering about their true purpose. Are they really there just for semblance’s sake? To heighten the aesthetic attractiveness of the tree itself while projecting the same image of the leaves that have come before it? To stick to tradition and genetics, and not introduce anything new to the perspective?
Such a conversation connects nicely with the conflict of family in many of the stories we have read, especially Children of the Alley. Across cultures, there is a sense of familial importance, both in the light of intra-familial relations and interfamilial competition, of sorts. Families are often labeled by a particular descriptor based on their actions and mannerisms, while families also try to maintain certain aspects of their reputation. This valuation of familial reputation seems to have died down in the current century, with more focus being placed on the individual. However, whether it relates to a family or some large idea that people rally behind, this dedication to something bigger than the individual has fascinating implications on the life of an individual. The metaphor of the tree allows for some parallels to be drawn as well. Like the leaves, the individual often loses significance within the context of the cause or reputation, so when they leave or pass away, the cause survives. In addition, given that the tree determines the cycle and the colors of the leaves, how much room for self-definition is there when one dedicates him or herself wholeheartedly to a higher cause? I write not to denounce the importance of communal thinking and contribution, but more to highlight the necessity for individual contribution to such causes so that people maintain their identities within the context of their larger affiliations.