Monday, March 17, 2008

In good faith...

This kind of ties in with my previous post -just on a larger scale.

If you haven't watched "The Bandit Queen" (a true story, that was banned in India for a long time...) I highly recommend you rent/netflix it! It made me realize how lucky and fortunate I am to be born into my family- to be given the basic right to life. What happened to Phoolan Devi (translates to The Bandit Queen) was unjust - and no one intervened. It got me thinking: As fellow human beings, where do our obligations start and where do they end? Should a whole village be punished for standing idly by as they watch about 7 men gang up and brutally beat a woman (i.e. should they be considered as accessory to the crime)? Or have all the men from the village gang-rape her over and over for three days consecutively? Or stand by idly (yet again) as the village bully stripped her naked in front of the whole village following the gang rape- men, women and children included- and I repeat- and no one intervened. (I really don't want to give away anything about the movie because I'd rather have you watch it- but the woman kicks some serious ass. She isn't a criminal nor a victim. She's a hero.) Mind you this isn't a hoorah G.I.Jane chick-flick or a feel good womens empowerment movie. It is a true story with a real time-line and real dialogs.

Now, this isn't was tradition. I get two extreme reactions when I talk about this story: one that of apathy stating it's just the culture (and when corrected, they change it to "well that's just tradition...") and one that seems harsh and judgmental, almost ethnocentric to a point. However the two extremes seem so evasive. Why is it so hard to balance a middle-ground? Where do human morals come in? In our all tolerating world, when is it time to intervene? Is it when someone is regarded as a lesser mortal? When
you the observer- thinks the line has been crossed? Conscience is something so flexible and can always be ignored, as we all know. When does one sit on their high horse and judge and when is it time to jump off that high horse and relate?

If an observer is doing just that- observing, s/he is not given the chance to experience the aggregate emotional and mental state of given subject and every encounter is perceived as a third-party opinion. However, if one participates in any assessment of 'natural assessment,' s/he would only get one side of the experience. Unless you're John Howard Griffin. (Read: Black Like Me.... amazing book!! ...he had the advantage to experience both sides- he is white and he experimented with what it was like to be a Black southerner in the 1950s.)

Now this doesn't only happen in countries like India, Africa etc. (May I remind you: Slavery in the Americas, in Jamaica, in Guyana- the history of the Human race [thanks Brits {yes I'm still bitter about that...rightfully so} ] - that story that everyone wants to shove under the rug lest they be judged just as harshly- they ALL have stories just as brutal) It happens every day in every town. Maybe not on such a grander scale and for sure not so openly and so brutally- but how many times have you seen a prick go off on a poor cashier who has no control over the laws or rules and regulations of the store- and as customers, we idly stood by (knowing all well if possible, the cashier most probably has a sarcastic retort that would make the old geezer shut the hell up- but keeps such comments to her/himself in fear of being fired)

Should corporate companies be blamed for spoiling us as customers that we see it fit to dehumanize the people on the other side of the counter? The false promises of such corporates conditions us to expect SO much in every single visit that we, as customers, cannot fathom human errors nor accept any delays. Since when did we all get so scared to put someone in their place especially when it is duly called for? Everyone is so afraid of doing/saying the right thing in good faith because "It's not our business..."I know "Judge not lest ye be judged" ... but also think The Good Samaritan ;) There is absolutely nothing wrong with helping out a poor soul even if it is by mere words .... So next time, please speak up!

(P.S. I know this post doesn't really have any structure and was kinda all over the place...I had so many side comments and topics to discuss I didn't feel like filtering it and narrowing it down to a simple argument because fact is, there ARE other factors that come into play.... the post went from serious brutalities that needed to be addressed to the mundane and sundry that happen in everyday life- both facts of life- both that needed to be questioned)