Karma, Guns, & Money

IMG_0973On Wednesday, we jumped back on our bus that says, “tourist” across the front of it and headed back into Delhi. I was a little tired of talking and interacting with people, so I put on my headphones and put the iPod on shuffle. As we drove past the rivers, canals, and streets filled with trash. As I saw the people sleeping on the side of the roads, the people living in shacks, tents, or just under tarps to protect them from the monsoons, Michael Jackson’s song, Man in the Mirror came on the shuffle.   As I listen to the words, I couldn’t help hearing the message of self-change to change the world. Such a consistent message to Gandhi and so profound I would hear it while driving through India.

Jackson sings, “ I starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. No message could have been any clearer, if you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make the change.”

We were set up to see three more schools. We got to see an all boys’ school, and all girls’ school, and a co-ed school.   At each of these schools the kids greeted us like rock stars presenting us with gifts, the traditional dot between on our eyebrows which symbolizes presence and awareness, and a show that included poetry, dancing, and of course a theme of nonviolence and peace.

Each of these schools was in some of the poorest neighborhoods. As we went from school to school, armed guards escorted us to protect us from beggars, pickpockets, or aggressive salesman. Even still, I felt safer walking around Old Delhi armed with my Nikon D60 than I would if I had been walking around New Haven, CT. That says so much about the differences between these two Countries.

Here in India, dozens of different religions co-exist. It is not without conflicts and yet those are small when you see it in contrast of the sheer amount of people living here in such a small space. Each of those religions, which include Islam, Jain, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, and the dozens of sects associated with those religions. All of these religions hold nonviolence to be a major tenant of their faith.

Unlike America, people here practice nonviolence to extents we could only wish to see in the States. Some Jains wear coverings over their mouth as to prevent accidently inhaling or ingesting living organisms in the air.   Some even gently sweep the floor as to be sure no insects are in their path as they walk.

Here people worry about Karma. Karma meaning that each action you do either adds to Karma or takes it away. The more Karma you have, the more lives you need to live before you reach heaven.   Each action is carefully weighed out to its effect on Karma. This is drastically different than the consciousness I am used to in America where violence is celebrated rather than prevented by facemasks.

Americans are addicted to violence. They would rather fight to keep their guns then fight to make peace. We spend enormous amounts of time teaching about wars in our schools and little time on nonviolence or peace.  It is so polar opposite to what I am seeing here in the one of the poorest countries on the planet where they have dozens more reasons to be violent yet they embrace peace.  At home all I hear is God, Guns, Money, here all you hear is Karma,

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