Love is a Better Master than Duty*

Indian rape demonstrationsThe recent vicious rape and assault of a 23 year old physiotherapy student in New Delhi has caused rioting and outrage in India. A policeman injured in the rioting has died and most Indian politicians seem to be distancing themselves from having any responsibility for a justice system that allows so many similar crimes to escape unpunished.

This outrage against rape is an important change in a country where most women are stigmatised if they are victims of rape and are, therefore, afraid to ever report the crime in the first place. In order to have any safety or justice it is essential that rape is seen as a crime that is perpetrated by the rapist rather than caused by the victim.  It is an important societal change in India to have the voice of the public blaming the rapists rather than the victim. This public outrage may well help to create at least some will to act amongst the forces of law and order and thereby protect Indian women in the future.

But it’ll take more than just a change in law enforcement to make women in India – and elsewhere – safe.  It’ll take a radical change in attitude amongst both men and women.

Indian schoolchildren

Not just a rise in respect for women and girls and a real appreciation of how a society cannot function properly with one dominant gender any more than a bird can fly properly if it has one wing tied down.

Not just an understanding that rape is not an action of sexual appreciation but rather one of violence and agression.

Not just a fear of being punished by the law and ostracised by society for committing this heinous crime.

All of these things are vital to creating change but they aren’t enough.

As well as these – and other  – changes, there also needs to be a change at the level of the individual human being. A change that makes each one of us see every other person on the planet as something so precious, so special and so vital to even our own welfare that we wouldn’t dream of hurting their feelings let alone violating them in any serious or painful way.

I know we have a bit of a journey before we reach such a place of tender care for our fellow human beings but I believe it’s the place we need to name as our destination.  I don’t imagine that many people would object to a world in which they were held in such esteem and treated with such care and reverence.  I even think most might be willing to try extending this attitude to others.  However, I imagine that a huge number of people might think it impossible to achieve.

And maybe it is impossible.

How do I know.

But what if it is possible?

Isn’t it worth a shot?

If we fail we can just go back to being the way we are now.

But just imagine what might happen if we succeed…


*attributed to Albert Einstein

Maybe It’s True That All We Really Do Need is Love?

What is love?

Is it just the sentimental confection peddled to us in popular culture?  Could it be more than the powerful, visceral emotion we feel for our children?  We live for it and die for it and long for it and hope for it, but even so perhaps we are too sparing with it?

Maybe love is all we imagine and more.  Could it be that love has powers far exceeding the ordinary scope we allow for something as commonplace? Perhaps love is more than a nice optional extra and is, instead, a fundamental reality that drives our existence at a social as well as personal level?

Down through the centuries people like St. Augustine have spoken about love as an energy for social change.  They have played with the idea of love as the connection between everybody and everything rather than simply something driven simply by desire.

Could they have been correct when they suggested that all we need is love?

All Together Now…

Everybody knows the stories about WWII – we’ve all seen the movies – and we generally think that what happened was ‘of a time’.  A black and white era of seamed stockings and chain-smoking totally unlike today.  We believe it is in the past and that we’ll never end up in that awful mess again.  But is that the case?  Here are a few things to think about –

  • Germany was a democracy in 1933 when Hitler came to power.  There was a great deal of civil unrest but it was still a democracy and Hitler and his party were elected in a democratic process.
  • Everybody ignored the Civil War in Spain in 1936 and let Franco take over in 1939.  This didn’t seem like an important conflict that had the capacity to impact on the lives of people outside of Spain.  It was the generally accepted view that it was safe to ignore it and let the Spaniards fight it out between themselves.  The Spanish Civil War was where Hitler and Mussolini tried out lots of the weapons, planes and tactics they later used all over the place during WWII – so, it would appear that the generally accepted view was flat out wrong.
  • None of these things would have happened if the ordinary people thought for themselves and acted on what they knew to be right.

Dolores Ibárruri, a Republican leader in the Spanish Civil War, is reputed to have said, ‘It’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees.’  While I imagine Dolores and I might have a different opinion of war, I still think she was right. We don’t have to be in a physical battle to need to find the courage to stand up for what is right.  And if we want to ‘defend’ ourselves and keep ourselves safe we need to understand that if we don’t defend people who appear to be far away and therefore not connected to us, we are increasing, not diminishing the risk to ourselves.

We are like climbers tied together scaling a tall mountain. Even enlightened self interest suggests we should look out for each other.

And seriously – after you watch this video do you think you’d mind being connected to any of these kids? (I know it’s unbearably cute but I just love it!)