While My Guitar Gently Weeps

November 10, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Newspapers always highlight the ugly underside of our cities.  The items that follow highlight events that are unusual to a Westerner’s eyes.  India is a wonderful place and this post should not diminish the richness that can be found for anyone willing to embrace the diverse experiences present.    Here are some of the items that appear all too often in the local news:

There are no shootings and almost no knifings.  I think that I may have read of one.    People frequently  strangle each other instead.  Suicide usually occurs by drinking poison and women are the ones generally committing suicide.

Electrocutions by power lines.  Power lines fall on people and/or their homes.

Loose wires also seem to kill folks all the time and  I mistakenly thought that it was a freak accident when Trappist Monk Thomas Merton was electrocuted by a fan in SE Asia.

Rape is unbelievably common.  The rapes of vulnerable, often  impoverished, lower caste women and children are in the paper every day.

Similarly, parents ( I suspect the fathers) do not like to have daughters.  Men outnumber women 10-9.  It is not unusual for baby girls to be aborted.  If born, they are often found abandoned.  I even read one article where an abandoned baby had been partially eaten by dogs.  Apparently, girls are unwanted because they leave the family and go to live with their husbands’ families.  The brides’ families also have to provide a dowry to the grooms family.

I have already read a few times that the dowry has been a cause of friction between the families.  It is not uncommon to read that the grooms’ families are not happy with the amount of the dowry.   In 3 instances, I have read where the wife has committed suicide by jumping off a building or drinking poison.  One of the women had even been married for a few years and the dowry was still a contentious issue.

India views itself as a “religious” country. Yet women and the vulnerable are not treated well.  Perhaps the behaviors cited above are a reflection of what happens to human nature when it is stressed by poverty.  Perhaps the abominal treatment of women in India in general is the result of the infanticide of women.  The disproportionate numbers and a culture whose scriptural view  may hide women away in purdah likely leads to dysfunctional relationships between the genders.   Thomas Aquinas considered our sexual drives a human appetite akin to hunger and our appetite for food.   It could be that the frustration of that appetite engenders the all too commonplace violent acts of rape.

I read in the New York Times where a woman who made a lot of money with one of our American corporate icons is establishing a foundation to address the plight of women.  Clearly an issue.

George Weigel’s  The Truth of Catholicism has a quote from JPII in 1997 when receiving the credential of the US Ambassador to the Vatican:

“  No expression of today’s American commitment to liberty and justice for all can be more basic than the protection afforded to those in society who are most vulnerable.  The  USA was founded on the conviction that an inalienable right to life was a self-evident moral truth, fidelity to which was a primary criterion of social justice.  The moral history of your country is the story of your people’s efforts to widen the circle of inclusion in society, so that all Americans might enjoy the protection of the law, participate in the responsibilities of citizenship, and have the opportunity to make a contribution to the common good.  Whenever a certain category of people—the unborn, or the sick and old – are excluded from that protection, a deadly anarchy subverts the original understanding of justice.   The credibility of the US will depend more on its promotion of a genuine culture of life, and on a renewed commitment to building a world in which the weakest and most vulnerable are welcomed and protected.”

Of course, the Pope was addressing the belief that human life begins at conception and should be protected by law as well the importance of dying naturally.

India seems to be aware of the need to have the laws in place to protect women.  With the dowry deaths,  charges have been brought against the grooms’ families.  The police are quick to arrest the rapists.  I think that they have also outlawed getting ultrasounds to determine the gender of fetuses in order to minimize the abortions of females.

On a different note,  I played golf yesterday.  The golf club did not have any golf balls to sell.  So today I headed out with my driver to get some golf balls.  As we drove down a narrow street that was like an alley jammed with three wheel auto rickshaws and storefronts selling tea or bread, I saw what looked like some puppies playing.  As we drew closer it was 3 baby goats or kids.  They ran into a narrow backyard that was paved that had the two parent goats and a few oxen feeding.  As we came to the end of the alley, there was a construction project which was using women to carry dirt and other materials.  They carried the dirt in large flat bowl-like plates on the top of their heads.  All that in a few minutes.   Even though I found a sports store chain, I never did find anywhere selling golf balls.  Should not be surprised since there are only 2 golf courses in Hyderabad.