I was not aware of the atrocities of Kandhamal (Orissa, India) till my school friend mentioned she was on her way to a tribunal to speak about the plight of the women there. Being the voracious reader I am and being privileged enough to have the time and the resource available to surf the net I began reading about it. I sit here in my beautiful home ten thousand miles away and complain about the heat wave that raises my electricity bill while thousands of men, women and children are living amidst squalor and in fear because they have chosen to execute their right to follow a religion of their choice. They probably do not feel the heat or the cold because they fear for their very life and livelihood. We could blame the local politicians or law enforcement for their continued suffering over two years after the atrocities first took place but are we all not just as culpable?
A few unintelligent hoodlums carried out a horrible act on our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. We learned about it and shook our heads and let it pass us by. A handful of us who care enough took up the cause and went there to help rebuild; others sent money and other essentials and still others took up the fight to higher authorities but still the women who were widowed and raped, the children who were orphaned, the men who were beaten and maimed continue to suffer. The world is thousands thousands times bigger than this small community and because only a few hundred have chosen to help they have not been able to get back a semblance of their dignity.
The world needs to prosper for each of us to be successful in life. These pockets of atrocious events take away from us as a human community just as much as it takes away from each of us as individuals. If each of us was to give one cent of our wealth and one minute of our time each day towards the betterment of each other imagine the force of our endeavor to make our world a better place. The evil acts are succeeding because we are choosing to do nothing good to counter them. Fighting against is never the answer leading to solutions - we need to do more to positively affect change. As a world community not to have been able to build safe homes, rebuild their place of worship, provide education to the children, create work for the people of Kandhamal to get their livelihoods back is shameful. Instead the suffering people are being pressured to change their religion and are being further insulted by others. Our government is providing funds to our neighbors to help them recover from natural disasters while our own nationals are having to beg for their dignity. Where is the balance?
It is not that we do not care - it is that we are too far removed from each other. We have become absorbed in material wellbeing and have chosen to forget that we are all brothers and sisters from one Source. We stand on our golden pulpit and declare there is only one God and are proud to be monotheists but refuse to acknowledge 'your God' because you chose to give Him a different name. This is not about religion it is about humanity. It is about love and compassion and knowledge. It is about each of us looking within our very beings and then looking at the misery out there and taking ownership. We cannot cocoon ourselves and wait for others to stand beside the downtrodden. It is not for us to judge and take sides. This is the time for us to lend a hand so everyone of us can live with our heads held high. What use is knowledge that is not shared with others? What use is money if our parents go hungry? What use is life if my sister is being raped?
Let us open our hearts and look beyond the narrow realm of me, my home, my family, my friends, my work and share our wealth, our knowledge, our strength with our world family and help rebuild Kandhamal even more beautifully than it was before it was raped so future generations can look back and say that our brothers and sisters did not die and suffer in vain. Governments and other institutions can only help so much. It is eventually upto us individuals to turn things around. We cannot wait to see what institutions can and are doing. It is possible for individuals to raise money and give of their time to help rebuild schools, hospitals, wells, and places of worship so the people can get back their dignity and the will to continue living. The government is helping to rebuild their homes but that is only a small part of life. Without education and basic health care generations of people of Kandhamal will continue to be emotionally and intellectually raped.
Kandhamal is only a small portion of a much larger world of suffering. We have to take up these issues and start bringing about a change that affects us all. The yardstick cannot be how much the haves are donating to the have nots. Success must be measured by how many of the have nots are on their way to becoming haves. The need for help is clearly much greater than what is being currently done. Prosperity cannot be measured by individual success - it must be measured by the success of all. Using that criteria we are definitely a poor world. Dignity is the right of all beings and we must consider ourselves privileged when we can share that amongst all our brothers and sisters. When one of us is raped or maimed or killed for any reason we are all being insulted. Punishing the wrongdoers is clearly not the answer because when one is punished ten more seem to be raising their ugly heads. Instead let us concentrate our time and energy on raising the bar of life so each of our sisters everywhere knows that if one man intends to hurt her in anyway there will be ten brothers and sisters protecting her. The only way evil can continue to succeed is if we sit back and do nothing good. Let us give of ourself not because there is misery but because we love one another and want to be successful as the human race. Let us simply raise the bar of goodness and so of human life.
(A small sample of life events in Kandhamal http://ww.telegraphindia.com/1100824/jsp/nation/story_12847233.jsp)
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