It must be too early yet to begin to understand India’s terrible tragedy, but themes are being articulated. A correspondent for the NY Times from Mumbai tells us that some Indians think that it is India’s 9/11, a view with which he disagrees. (I think he disagrees because he does not think that events can change India very easily.)
Even in these very early days, I am struck particularly by one difference between the two events’ aftermaths. That is that India’s highest ranking security officer has resigned. Apparently, we do not do that in the United States. If the Abu Ghraib prison case is anything to judge by, we much prefer to see the lowest in rank sent to trial.
It seems to me very easy to stand in judgment on the officials who let their subordinates carry the blame. Isn’t it cowardice of the worse sort to use power to absolve and protect yourself at the expense of those over whom you have authority?
But is there a better, more nuanced reaction? And what would US citizens have to change in their culture to change the idea that those at the top can save themselves without public dishonor? It is clear that the idea of protecting those in control is not peculiar to one country; witness the priests who were protected despite sexual abuse. (From this perspective, the fact that many cultures protect abusers of women suggests that somehow we fall outside the ranks of those who truly matter. Where there is honor, not shame, attached to killing your daughter, the the phenomenon of an ‘honor culture’ seems ironically named.)
In those countries where public resignation from high officials is more common, is there a difference that does permeate the culture? England has been one such place, but there have been recent calls for resignation is the terrible Baby P case, and I am not sure it has happened. Is it mostly members of Parliament that resign? :)
Anyway, as usual, WHAT DO YOU THINK? I’m trying to raise questions here, not answer them!
Finally, it is hard to find words adequate to the horror in Mumbai; I hope that taking the time to reflect on issues of honor is appropriate.
The Buddhist view that strong attachments contribute to misery can seem to lead to a life in some ways higher in its purposes. The amount of angst that can accompany a scratch on a new car or a bad referee’s report hardly seems to improve one’s life, right? And perhaps for many people, it is easy to feel that having children is just too hard. So I am far from wanting to laugh at the following quotes attributed to the Dalai Lama.
Still, it is stunning to find a list of reasons with which one agrees and a conclusion one’s whole life has rejected.
Conjugal life causes too many “ups and downs”, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader told reporters in a Lagos hotel.
“Sexual pressure, sexual desire, actually, I think is short-period satisfaction and, often, that leads to more complication,” he said.
“Naturally as a human being…some kind of desire for sex comes, but then you use human intelligence to make comprehension that those relationships are always full of trouble.”
Problems arising from conjugal life could even lead to suicide or murder, the Dalai Lama warned. …
“Too much attachment towards your children, towards your partner,” was “one of the obstacles or hindrances of peace of mind,” he said.
I guess the thing that is causing my sense of amazement is that though people seem frequently to say – or to agree to – the claim that close sexual relaitonships have a lot of ups and downs, that isn’t usually considered a reason for not getting into any at all.
And that makes me think that the perspective from which it is a good reason contains alternatives not easily available to many of us. It is a life, the Dalai Lama says, with more independence and freedom, but those may also require a context before they are the full basis for a life.
I’ll bet she could use a piggy-bank. And I’ll bet you want to make sure that she saves up for something that will give her happiness and a feeling of self-worth.
From Sociological Images. (Thanks, Mr Jender!)
From the National Partnership for Women and Families:
The Bush Administration’s global gag rule denies U.S. family planning funds to foreign NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that use their own private, non-U.S. dollars to counsel women, make referrals for abortion, or perform abortions. The gag policy even denies U.S. funds to NGOs that express support for laws to make abortion safe and legal.
As a result, medical professionals in some of the world’s poorest nations risk losing their ability to provide life-saving, legal, and medically acceptable services — or even basic health information.