Friday, July 13, 2007

Do things have to be 'just the way things are'?

(this is for my time in India two weeks ago-- the israel/palestine update coming soon after)

from June 21 (sounds very similar to last post, but representative of ongoing feelings that first two weeks):
I just watched the most gorgeous sunset over the hill in the distance here in Jagdeeshpur, the muddy soccer field in the foreground with kids playing and uber privileged cows providing natural defense (walking through the games) just a few hours after the daily monsoon here. It is an odd sensation, looking at the natural beauty amidst internal struggle. Today may have been the most things have smacked me in the face. We made our way into one of the villages just a few miles from Jagdeeshpur. Words don't do justice to the pangs of this experience. Our few phrases of Hindi and blood pressure equipment were pretty useless with the floods of people with strokes, serious diseases, injuries of two years or more, even cerebral palsy. Even Dr. Joe could just ask them to visit the hospital as he handed them a few vitamins or simple medication he had brought along for this community health outreach.

We medicate for everything in the states and here were people who have absolutely nothing for serious injuries and illnesses I cannot even fathom. EVERY KID but one we measured the arm of was malnourished. HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN? ANd I sat there overwhelmed wondering how I could drive in and out and not shut down, angry because I have nothing-- no way to help, no skill to offer. How can one talk of peace when people cannot feed their children, when the only crops of the year go bad, when people get sick and have no access to help? Where is the world? WHere are we who enjoy the luxuries of three large meals a day, sweets, electricity, clean water, transportation, health care, education. What happens to these children? How many will live beyond their youth? Will anything change for them? Are they simply to be forgotten by those of us who can put up our walls of separation and shade our eyes from the extents of poverty?

I keep thinking, "where is God?". Though I feel God's presence so strongly in the smiles, the insane hospitality, the graciousness of the people here. But what about in their daily lives of grind work, isolation, debilitating caste, sickness, even starvation? It is such a paradox. Why is it that those who have so little are more giving, more gracious, more loving and hospitable than those of us who have our lives filled with material?

Sensory overload. Women's shadows reflecting in the flooded rice fields, kids hopping patties and bathing in the water, families gathered for a meal, wide-eyed children smiling as we ride by on bikes-- love in the midst of so little. BUT SO MUCH SUFFERING-- and they just continue, day after day, generation after generation. Nothing has changed in hundreds of years.

I ache to know answers yet can't even figure out the questions. I desire to be real but don't know what that would mean right now. The stirrings aren't the comfortable kind, not the great realizations where I feel I can sleep well for at least I had some great thought of the day. Instead, I ache. Where is my faith? What does faith mean here?

Religious jargon means nothing here to me-- how can we debate petty scriptures when the most serious call for justice and an end to oppression of the poor is so rampant? What is justice when government schools are corrupt, leaving no hope of education? When every child in a village looks through starving eyes? WHen people live with the most serious TREATABLE illnesses for years, wasting away, having body parts amputated because they can't refrigerate insulin for their diabetes? When 28 orphans who can live off of 80$ a month ALL TOGETHER are struggling to get by?

Can we talk about peace when many don't even see the conflict our affluent lives are causing? When we seem so far from the starting point of change? When even the dogs howl of starvation and the land begs for rain?

I don't know what all this means. I feel lost, dried up, desensitized, hardened, angered, confused...

Walking past the orphanage and then the village of Jagdeeshpur, Kavya-- Joe and Sima's 5 year old-- asked her mother, "why are things always 'just the way things are'?" SHe continued, "Do things have to be 'just the way things are'?" I wonder if we are beginning to internalize that, to believe we are fighting as if already defeated on every front. It seems quite opposite of the hope that moves us forward. But the more we leave unjust structures in place with the comment of "that's the way things are" the more they will become internalized until not even seen as unjust chains but as our shelter and foundation...

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