"Jiho" means "May Victory Be Yours".
I have some thoughts about this movie that are flying all over the map right now.
The slums of Mumbai are the sort of environment that few people can imagine without having seen it. People live in tin shacks covered with moldy blankets next to garbage dumps. Children swim through poop. Bathrooms are collective and there is no sanitation. The stink alone is unspeakable.
Human beings should not be living that way in an abundant world ~ and the world is abundant. There are sufficient resources on this planet to feed every man, woman, child and beast. The social structures have to place that as a value and currently they do not.
I found the premise of the movie rather silly, given that most of the children in Mumbai are not educated and struggle daily for basics. The idea of someone having the energy to memorize a lot of trivia is a bit unrealistic. But that aside....
One thing the creators of this movie did understand is that consciousness raising without action is meaningless. Talking about a problem, ruminating about it, hand-wringing about it is useless.
The producers of the movie have created a school in the slums of Mumbai in an effort to offer free education to all the children of the region. It will provide them with a chance to begin the process of improving their lives. In my opinion, that is to be praised. The producers didn't make a big issue of it or try to use it as a means to elevate themselves. If I am understanding correctly, it's really not a well-known fact.
The one thing that concerns me is inaction and lack of cooperation on part of the Indian government. They still operate under a social system that predestines a person's status in life by birth. If one is born into the wrong caste, there is no chance of change, no opportunity for growth or self-determination on any level. At the risk of making some people mad, I'll say that it is a disgusting, barbaric and unconscionable social system that should be challenged by every human rights group on the planet.
Karma can be used as a battering ram, just like anything else. It can be used as an excuse to ignore glaring social problems by determining that someone deserves his or her fate because of past deeds in another life. That's not a belief system. It's an excuse.
In my opinion, it's crap.
Karma is a system of cause and effect, not a meritocracy.
We all have a duty to alleviate suffering whenever and however we can. Not to rack up brownie points but because that is our purpose here.
Maithri quoted a Sufi saying that I particularly like and it seems to fit this occasion as well.
"Past the seeker as he prayed,
There came the helpless and the hungry and the homeless,
And seeing their suffering he cried out to his God saying
"Great God, How can you see your children suffering and not do anything to
And God in His heaven replied "I did do something.
I made you."
I hope that if seeing the movie that won the Oscar does anything, it will convince all of us on a very personal level that we are responsible for the way the world works, that we can and should make a difference. This isn't a Horatio Alger tale. It's a morality play.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
Thanks to those of you who wrote to check on me. I'm okay.
This past few weeks have been filled with shedding old skin for new. Not long ago, I was reading a book by Thomas Moore called "Care of the Soul". In it, he tells us that the state of our environment is often a reflection of the state of our souls.
That stuck in my mind. It was difficult to get it out of my mind, kind of like a piece of music that gets stuck in our heads. Now it makes sense.
Since I am planning a move to Crescent City, I've been sorting through all sorts of old stuff in the house. There's not a lot of room for moving things in my small Toyota. Traveling light is necessary. No room for old baggage. This move is more than just changing locations. It is also a symbolic way of closing the door on the past.
I'm good at compartmentalizing!
As this stuff shifts out of my life, I am feeling lighter and lighter. Sometimes I look at something and think "why the hell did I ever buy this?" There are things in this house that actually feel burdened and heavy on their own. It's as though there is a film of negativity attached to the items themselves.
If it wasn't for some expensive electronics, I'd be tempted to walk out of here with just a few suitcases and a box of favorite books. Realistically though, the cookware and the electronics would all be difficult to replace so that stuff will come along. My TV is new. With the digital/analog thing going on, I bought a new digital TV. Too costly to abandon it. Same with the computer.
As for the rest of it, if it no longer serves me, it's gone. The WEAVE Thrift Shop has been getting bags and boxes from me for the last two weeks. I've sold some things on Craigslist also.
Do you know that I had over 200 CDs? Of course you didn't - but I did. No human being needs 200+ CDs! Most of them haven't been played in years. They're musical genres that no longer interest me or I got them home and didn't like them. I also had over 100 videotapes. Who has a VCR anymore?
I also had things I've been carrying around for twenty-five years or more and haven't looked at some of it in ten years. Example: an old Minolta camera with all the accessories. Now I have a digital camera.
This is a spiritual project as well as a physical one. It is affecting how I see the world and my place in it. The lightness of having very few material possessions is freeing.
Each article that comes into my new home in Crescent City will be chosen mindfully and carefully. I'll have it because I love it, not because it's something I picked up at a yard sale without any particular thought, something that just "happened" in here or something I acquired out of momentary necessity.
I will do the same with ideas, people and beliefs.
The condition of my environment will reflect the state of my soul. Unburdened, free and open to experience. Weightlessness.
So. It's been a while. What is everyone up to? I will be sure to visit all your sites again very soon.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
I'm sure by now everyone has heard about the woman in Southern California who had fertility treatments and gave birth to eight children.
I'm doing my best to refrain from some rather colorful remarks. The entire thing appalls me.
But setting that aside, it's hard to fathom anyone choosing to have eight children when she already has six others, three of whom have special needs.
Her statement? "I'll be there for all of my children" and "I've always wanted a big family."
That is naive thinking that has no place in the mind of a woman her age. At some point, someone has to call it what it really is: wrong.
She is a single woman, no husband or boyfriend involved. She lives at her parents' house. She hasn't yet completed her degree. She has no job and no income.
As old-fashioned as it may sound, there comes a point when people need to grow up and understand they can't have everything they want, simply because they want it. Making the decision to have fourteen children is irresponsible and, dare I say it?, stupid. Her reasoning is that she wanted "more people to love me". What? Are her children responsible for seeing to it that her needs are met? She grew up as a single child and always wanted a large family. Just the same, I always thought it was the other way around. We are there to meet the needs of our children.
But she wants. She needs. She wants to be loved. She. She. She. I. I. I. Me. Me. Me.
There is no way she will be able to provide the attention to all of those children they require, regardless of the idealistic view she might have of it. She will not be able to "be there" for all of them. Her three special needs children require more attention than an average child. Her special needs children are developmentally disabled which means they will probably be dependent on her for life. The other three, I suppose, will be tasked with taking care of the babies when the mother goes to school or work. And, of course, the grandparents. Children should be free to go out and play, go to school and be kids. It's not their job to raise their siblings.
Call me old-fashioned if you will but I believe adults need to make responsible decisions ~ but there it is. They need to sift through information and make decisions based on what can realistically be done, no matter what their feelings might be.
This is one of those cases where it might be in the best interests of the children to be removed from the home and adopted out to parents who have the means, the desire and the availability to raise them.
So.. what say you?
Friday, February 06, 2009
I was blog-surfing a while ago and ran across a good post by Ian at Or So I Thought. He was writing about the latest obsession with people's weight, specifically Jessica Simpson's weight, and I found my comment getting longer and longer so I brought it here. Fortunately, he was able to address it with some humor.
There have been endless reports about Jessica Simpson and I've quickly turned them off. It's ranked up there with Casey Anthony and Michael Phelps for wall-to-wall coverage.
I find the whole obsession with body size and perfection to be so immature and silly that I can barely muster even a yawn. It's like listening to a bunch of grade school kids on the playground, picking on one of the kids so they can all feel better about themselves.
It is also the product of a spoiled people and a superficial culture. When most of the world's people don't have clean drinking water or enough food, I find this focus on achieving personal "perfection" to be just a little bit self-indulgent.
As a plus-sized woman (barely - I'm a size 16/18 and mention that for a reason), I can't tell you how sick and tired I am of hearing this topic, usually peppered with charming descriptors like "heifer", "lard ass", "fat pig" or other things I won't even mention because I don't use that kind of language on this site.
It's time to grow up, folks!
We really need to be putting more effort into accepting each other as we are - and stop picking at each other because we don't meet some arbitrary standard of perfection established by some marketing weenie who wants to sell stuff. That's all it is. I've lived long enough to see these trends come and go. If suddenly some moron on Madison Avenue decided that "Rubenesque" was 'in style' because it would sell more products, we wouldn't need a stimulus package. There would be so much eating going on everywhere that the economy would recover in two months! Sheep follow trends.
We all know there are health risks with obesity (which Jessica Simpson clearly is not). We know what they are. The information is readily available. In fact, it's shoved down our throats by every pop culture icon with a talk show on a regular basis. The truth is that it is a topic to be discussed with one's doctor, not fodder for gossipy gaggles of uninformed, small-minded people who find it necessary to denigrate others so they'll feel superior. If someone wants to feel superior, maybe they should concentrate on their own character development and make themselves worthy of it.
That's my way of saying my weight.. or Jessica Simpson's... is no one else's business! For those who find it necessary to look at and criticize other people for minor flaws, I'd suggest reading a book, phoning a friend, get involved with a cause, do something for someone else. Picking at others only makes the one doing it look silly, immature and - dare I say it? - not very bright.
Grow up! There's lots of important work to be done. Get busy!
Sorry.. but that's how I see it.
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Okay. I'm coming out of the closet.
Lately, I've been reading (and enjoying) the "Grace in Small Things" posts that many have been doing. I'd love to be doing them, too.
But the truth is.... I don't find grace in everyday things. Sometimes grace is found in small things, sure, but not everyday things.
Most of everyday life feels to me to be a combination of frustration and busy work. It's petty problem-solving and maintenance. It's drip-drip-drip.
I know it's not "cool" to say that.. or to admit seeing it that way. In some regards, it probably sounds a bit devaluing and perhaps even arrogant. After all, I should be able to find it. I've filled my head with Thomas Moore and others who write on the topic of finding the sacredness in everyday life.
And it just doesn't seem very meaningful. It doesn't resonate.
I find grace in nature. That is my refuge. I love growing things, the creation of nature and amazing geography. Waterfalls and oceans. Mountains. Animals. Plants. Flowers. Beautiful trees. They scream out "sacred".
I find grace in big things ~ in miracles which I believe occur regularly. There is grace and beauty in the animal world, in extraordinary acts of ordinary human beings. Acts of kindness. People who consistently put something else ahead of themselves. Passion for causes and a desire to make the world a better, more equitable, place.
One of my greatest fears is being stuck in a "Groundhog Day" existence of problem-solving, busy work and life maintenance. I'm a casualty of "Babbit". I read that book way back in high school and frankly it scared the living hell out of me. I vowed then and there that I would make sure my life didn't resemble Babbit's with his pathetic lament, "I never did a single thing I wanted to do." (For those who don't remember, that comment was made when giving advice to his son upon his marriage. Babbit's complaint was that he'd never done a single thing he wanted to do because he gave in to social expectations and householder responsibilities.)
My life is very controlled in many ways. Bills are paid automatically. Everything that can be automated has been clicked into place and the system flows seamlessly. Most of the time. As I mentioned in a previous post, a phone call doesn't even come into this house without my controlling who, when and under what circumstances.
On the other hand, even though the control can be a good thing from the standpoint of organization, I may have built such high walls that things are kept out that should be let in. There should be a better balance.
This is perhaps my greatest weakness (some might even say 'character flaw') and I admitted to a friend a while back that the karma is terrifying. What if the universe decides I need to learn next time about accepting responsibilities gracefully?
Ugh. You know. Just ugh! When I see how most people have to live, it terrifies me. It terrifies me for them.
This isn't permission to be irresponsible and I'm not. I keep my agreements. The thing is that I keep a very tight lid on how many agreements I'll make and the circumstances of them.
I've been given the greatest gift of any lifetime.. and that is the ownership of my time. There's not a single day that I don't wake up and thank God/Buddha/The Universe/Deity of Choice for that gift. I'm determined to not abuse it.
Still... I suspect I'd be a more mature, wiser and perhaps even better person if I was able to find the grace in everyday life.. and opened up to it a bit more, without the ironclad control.
Monday, February 02, 2009
Well, I have to speak my truth.
Facebook just doesn't do it for me. It's been a few months now and while it is nice to see snippet updates from people, it doesn't have the "hook" that draws me in. In general, it appears to be just another shallow social networking site with people competing in a marketplace environment to up their number of friends, parlor games and quippy comments.
Meh. Maybe I'm just too old. I miss substantial conversation over tea, metaphorically speaking, and what occurs on sites like that seems to be a passing wave at best. I want to ask "how are you doing" and get a real answer.
I'm not interested in popularity contests, tagging or quipping. I'm not good at any of that. Perhaps this is a consequence of my own introverted nature ~ or perhaps it's because it fits a trend I don't like seeing develope further; instant food, instant intimacy and disposable people.
I posed the question on Facebook ~ whether it is replacing blogging. If that is the case, I would find that most unfortunate. Blogging is a meal, not a gourmet meal.. not a perfectly healthy meal.. but a meal. Facebook is fast food. It's social McDonald's. Drive up, get it fast and gobble it down while on the way to doing something else.
I'd be curious to know your thoughts on this.