Monday, February 22, 2010

India, United States, integrity

I apologize for the long delay between posts the last few months have been demanding. In December I had a reaction to typhoid vaccine. Then, in January my trip to India was blocked when I arrived at Chennai. India Immigration would not allow me in due to visa issue. They sent me back on the same plane I flew in on. Almost 50 hours in the air is not something I rec commend. After three days resting, I hustled to see if I could put together funds and get a visa.

I returned to India in time for the War Resisters International triennial conference in Ahmedabad on January 22ND. The theme of linking movements for justice and peace brought organizers from many places in the world. Some of them were involved in trying circumstances from Venezuela to Eastern India. After a week at Gujarat Vedjapeeth, the University founded by Gandhi in 1920, I went to the World Peace Center in Pune for the Round Table Conference on democracy in today's violent context. A different level of activists participated in this event which addressed a range of issues from holistic health to global climate change. The trip concluded with the Third Training Camp for nonviolence based upon Preksha Meditation at the Children's Peace Palace in Rajsamand. Again, I mixed with people from various backgrounds, but mostly connected with the Jain philosophy. This collage of events and viewpoints represent efforts to address the violence and disintegration that is happening. Not everyone thinks there is disintegration, but it seems that all agree that we face troubling times. In each event I portrayed Gzndhi bringing both the views and experiences of the historic Gandhi, as well as my own applications to cureent issues as the "American Gandhi."

As on the last trip in October, I came upon a book that filled in many blanks about my experiences. GOODBYE TO GANDHI, TRAVELS IN THE NEW INDIA, by Bernard Imhasly covers the territory between Gujarat in Western India where Gandhi was born and where Hindu-Muslim tensions are prominent to Eastern India where tribal and village peoples face the exploits of the corporate/government powers to appropriate land and resources. Imhasly interviews a very representative cross section of persons on all sides of issues. India does not have an easy row to hoe!

Neither does the United States of America have an easy row. As I traveled, I was aware of many events in the US, including health care reform. It appears that significant health care for all is not in the cards. Obama seemed to admit that in a comment I saw on the Internet. Then, Obama's military budget was submitted: 7.04 billion dollars. The figure does not include military related expenses in other parts of the budget. And, the sum is more than the rest of the world spends on the military. I ask: where is the national internal integrity that the military is trying to defend going to be as the richest nation in the world disintegrates?

Am I being too negative? As I regroup from this trip and reassess my situation and the world situation, I will see what I can see.