Tag Archives: religion

Social justice meets Bollywood

I have been following a new blog by  Deeply Shredded and one of his recent posts recommended watching “AArakshan” a Bollywood film.

It has been a long while since I have watched a full length Bollywood film. This was a long one, so it took me 2 days to watch it in 20 min increments, around my work. I had totally forgotten how much like our American made Musicals they are. The musical moments in this film reminded me of the over-the-top numbers of the likes of “Moulin Rouge” or “Chicago”. Very entertaining, though I was aware very quickly that this movie was about far more than entertainment.

It was intended to bring to light social inequalities and it is unclear to me if the events that had occurred in the movie were based on actual historical events or if it was more of a docu-drama more loosely based in reality. Regardless, it does delve into real concerns over the sorely outdated caste system and the plague that it causes on vast populations within India. More specifically it looks at how the lower casts have had to struggle for even the right to basic education.

Their terminology used for a law was Reservation, as in we are reserving these spaces for the lower casts. It directly reminded me of our own Affirmative Action here in the United States and also the Desegregation of schools in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and resulting busing in the 1970’s.

Though my life is not that of a lower cast Indian, I found I could relate on some level. I grew up with a father that could not stand Affirmative Action, because it did nothing for him. He was angry that our family had come to America as indentured servants, yet were not afforded any ‘compensation’ as the blacks were. As a child I could remember him ranting about Affirmative Action and how it was keeping him from getting jobs. Yet he could not see that the major difference for him was that he was a grown white male with a college degree in engineering and a European name. I never understood why he felt that way. I could see that he looked like everyone else he worked with, literally every office he ever worked in was old white men with the random black person or woman.  I could see that regardless of whether Affirmative Action was in place, my father was never in jeopardy of having a job unless it was by his own mis-step or mis-fortune. Essentially, my father had the rights and privileges that those of black skin or female gender did not. (He was equivalent to the upper cast in India, and Blacks/Women the lower cast.)

This movie was making the same point. The upper casts by birth were showered with rights, privileges and resources that lowers casts simply didn’t even have access to. The turning point was when the Principle pointed out that the rich boy with low scores could hardly be compared to the poor child with the same scores, for the rich child had all of the resources needed to learn properly and succeed. If the child with all of the resources was still failing it was simply a reflection of their ability or desire to do well, and that should not allow them to take precedent over the child that managed just as well with nothing and no support.

I really understood when the Principle initially refused to agree with the Reservation law. I understood that he had wished for there to be simple equality where a person’s results were balanced against their resources and assistance. That he wish for no more than for the cast system to be acknowledged as obsolete by everyone, and that both sides could see the other. {BTW I totally agree, I wish all of society functioned that way. I too wish that we could stop labeling and putting factions of our world population down for just their mere existence.}

Alas, as is often the case in this world, the greedy were the privileged. They were the ones with access to the controlling mechanisms and all of the resources, and the idea of others encroaching on that made them react in fear of loss. They simply can’t bear to share anything. The ‘mastermind’ of the movie was intelligent and well connected, and made all of the right moves to make sure everyone was afraid of him. He took the Principle out and took his home and pushed him down as far as he possibly could.

In the end the Principle rebuilt on his own, teaching for free. He was still successful earning the trust of thousands of families. When everything came to a head and the greedy parties threatened to do physical harm and destroy what was rebuilt, a high government official stepped in. She stopped the battle before it was started and gave the principle a new remedial school to continue to run for the free education of the poor casts. He was rewarded as the hero of education.

I must say that I have several thoughts on this matter:

  1. Intelligence is not the only thing you need to earn the respect of a community at large. Intelligence must be accompanied by heart and wisdom. That is why the Principle was the hero, and why the greedy parties were only able to strike fear in the people. The same with money: money is only good if accompanied by heart and wisdom. I am reminded of our own Rockefeller Family especially SR vs JR and the mindset difference between them. Today we can still see this dichotomy play out with examples like Trump vs. Oprah/Paul Newman/Branson/Warren Buffet (the billionaires club being invaluable to good deeds these days).
  2. All humans do deserve an education. That is a basic right, and I am glad that the Principle was able to win the war. Since those rich people wish to separate themselves so badly, let them have their private paid schools and continue to coast through life, while the rest of us do the real work to ensure humanity continues to thrive.
  3. I too wish that this world could finally move past outdated useless ideas and find the ideal of equality. These battles have been raging for centuries and they have yet to solve anything for anyone. I genuinely wish that my generation and those younger than me, can come together for once and for all, and put an end to all of this bullshit. We all have hearts and lungs and flowing blood. We all need to eat and drink, and we should all be able to live in this world with less fear induced by others of our own species.  There is no reason to perpetuate this fucked up idea that any one group is better than or lesser than another. Treat each other as the humans we are. Be Kind damnit!
  4. Finally, you reap what you sow. If you are deceptive, deceitful, greedy and hateful, you are likely to get put in your place by the end of your life. If you genuinely strive to do better, be a better person, and do good in this world, eventually you will find reward of one kind or another. Nathan and I like to refer to that as Universal Law or God Law. Humans can attempt to make rules, laws, regulations to dictate what is good and what is bad, but we are merely attempting to put words and labels on something you just know when you see it. Lets all aim for the positive side of the scale. Be Kind, Be Good, Be Caring, Be Helpful.
    • Be the Change You Wish To See in the World! ~Ghandi

Thank you for reading my rants and rambles. May you all find your light in this world and feel safe and respected. May you all have your basic rights honored and find a way to a prosperous life.

As Above, So Below, So Mote it Be.

Dhanyavadam. Siva Hir Su.

Dropping oars with Krishnas

So, today I have spent a lot of time contemplating religion, apporpeau for a Sunday I suppose.

In general I have few religious hangups. I’ve been to the Buddhist temple here in KC and back in Iowa where my friend’s family hosted it in their home. I’ve been to the Hindu temple in Omaha & here in Shawnee.  I’ve been to religious round tables, and sat in on discussions with Islamic imams. I’ve been to gong  bath meditations with Sikhs.

This morning though I got stuck on my few hangups about Christianity.  I was bullied as a child by “good Christian children” that their parents couldn’t believe would bully another child, or so they said. Apples don’t fall far from the tree. 

I’ve watched Christians harass and belittle people of a wide variety of walks of life. I’ve watched “good Christians” physically harm other people based on race and religion.  So, then I get stuck, very upset,  when Christians try & tell me or anyone else that taking Jesus as their saviour is the only way to God.

I can feel right now I’m headed out of my vortex,  so I’ll wrap up by saying that many religions predate Christianity. Christianity,  Judaism,  and Islam share the same old testament bible/torah, yet those 3 are the religions most at war with each other and the rest of the world. Yet, other religions have survived for thousands of years longer.

I don’t honestly believe the religious label that someone claims makes them any more or any less likely to find their connection  to God. It’s more about their life, what they resonate with,  and how they come to an understanding of the weird ways of the universe. 

What matters more to me is that any individual is attempting to find love in their hearts for themselves and their fellow human beings.  That they attempt to show that love as much as possible and allow the love to win over anything else.  Finding compassion and understanding for their fellow humans as much as possible.  Showing that compassion through charitable works of any variety. 

 That to me speaks to holding God in your heart regardless of the labeling or religious politics you side with.

So today,  I’ve decided to drop my oars of resistance over religious politics by going to the Hare Krishna’s open house.  Some meditation and great vegetarian  feasting for a Sunday afternoon of peace and positive contemplation. 

Knock on Wood

Unlike the sentiment from The Mighty Mighty Bosstones “The Impression That I Get”,  I have and do continue to Knock on Wood quite frequently. When you’re down the last thing you want is more down, and I’m way more familiar with Murphy’s Law than I’d like to admit. So I knock on wood Every Time I say something that leans positive, something I want, as to avoid jinxing myself out of that thing. Seems I’ve been a knockin’ a lot lately! This is no different, 1 more knock, because I’m going to write about my desired future. This will be installment 1, of who knows how many (I have more ideas of what to write than time to write about them right now). In this Installment I describe Atira (pronounced Uh-tier-uh) Community: my and Nathan’s baby, our dream, of a perpetual giving machine. May the Divine read this, and hear me, and grant me the ability to do this soon.

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A Script:

Imagine if you will watching the following on your TV at home, and if so inclined leave a comment as to whether you would invest in, purchase products from, or visit Atira Community for a vacation.

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*Camera pans left to right.*

You see tall trimmed hedge rows with red buds, cherry blossoms, and magnolias behind them. As the camera pans to the right you begin to see domes in the near distance, some concrete, some geodesic. The camera continues to move and reveals a directional signpost with a peace pole in front of it, and a very large beautiful dome with stained glass windows to the rear, in the far distance you can see mountains. Further to the right you see what appears to be a whole village of small structures. The camera pans a little further right and reveals a large and long structure that looks like several domes chained together, in front of it you see a large parking area.

The camera pulls back and seems to go aerial to show a vast and complex layout of fields, ponds, and a whole variety of structures nestled near mountains. The view includes beautifully manicured gardens and hedges, a wide variety of beautiful trees, orchards, small crops, stables and pasture land. You note wind turbines and solar arrays strategically placed to minimize impact upon the beautiful picturesque landscape. You notice there’s an area that appears to be like a typical campground, and you see an outdoor theater. There is much to take in.

Narrator begins to describe what you are seeing as the camera hovers over different areas:

“Here at Atira Community we aim to create a wonderful beautiful environment that you can partake in products and services and even possibly festivals, as your getaway from the world, knowing that your money is literally giving people the tools and the education to better their lives.We strive to assist in reorienting previously homeless people to modern life to be able to support and sustain themselves again.  Atira is designed as a perpetual giving machine, granted by the grace of God and sustained by your generous purchases.”

*viewing the theater*

“Atira’s outdoor amphitheater is home to a whole host of musical and theatrical performances throughout the year, as well as 3 All-Ages General Admission Film Festivals spread throughout the warm months.”

*viewing the  hedgerows*

“You will notice that the amphitheater, festival, and camping facilities are separated from the rest of the property by a  thickly packed natural barrier of hedges, flowering plants, and trees. This is because some of the festivals hosted here at Atira Community are clothing optional and out of respect for others we have ensured that the view of the campground and festival grounds, is restricted just for such festivals. This is so that the general public can continue to access the rest of Atira Community regardless of their views and personal opinions or beliefs regarding clothing optional lifestyles. To ensure this level of respect we schedule the dates for those festivals during the periods where the plants are at their fullest and most lush, creating the densest yet most beautiful visual barrier. Please be sure to check the festival calendar when planning your visit if this is a concern or an option for you.”

*viewing geodesic dome greenhouses- inter-spliced with interior views*

“You will see that we have several geodesic dome greenhouses. Our greenhouses combined with our moderate crop land and orchards, are able to produce enough fruits and vegetables to support our organic grocery  store and restaurant located in the business park just to the right of the main entrance to the community. Additionally, all of the resident families and especially the people receiving charitable assistance from Atira Community are able to partake from the foods produced in these greenhouses and crops.”

*inter-spliced shots of people working and counseling sessions*

“It is our mission to encourage optimal health. We teach each and every person that resides here at Atira how to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle and we willingly provide coaching support to those citizens that are being given their second chance at a prosperous life. In return, those people give of their time as properly paid employees, which we train for one of the many jobs available within Atira Community, enabling them to rebuild a financial platform which they will one day take out into society. We even provide financial counselors to tech these people how to maximize their second chance to meet goals that they had otherwise given up on. We encourage everyone in Atira Community to volunteer a few hours a week, but it is by no means a requirement. One of our greater goals in Atira Community is to put people to work doing something that they can acknowledge betters their life, but that also brings them some level of joy- it is one of the most effective techniques for rehabilitating the homeless population, leading to lasting change for them, it literally gives them a reason to keep going.”

*aerial pan to tiny homes- with pictures of people purchasing clothes and  holding certificates/DL*

“When developing the concept for Atira Community the creative team acknowledged that if providing a second chance to homeless populations was the primary initiative, then Atira Community would need to provide the homes as well. To that end we have a tiny house village. The village is comprised of fiberglass dome homes, shipping container homes, and conventional built tiny homes. Each of these homes has been constructed, and fully furnished and accessorized for less than $50,000 each, and can house 4 to 8 people per structure in a basic bunking set-up. We even include a system for clothing the individuals in work appropriate attire. They are literally given back every basic necessity that they had previously lost. We also have a team member that works diligently to ensure that everyone is able to obtain copies of their birth certificate, social security cards, a current drivers license, and a new bank account- all of the items necessary to take their new skills out into society so that we can continue to help a new generation of individuals approximately every 2 years.”

*aerial views of solar arrays and wind turbines, followed by ground video of well and septic installation, followed by video of the variety of electric vehicles*

“Atira Community leaders felt strongly about being energy efficient and having a fully sustainable system. To that end we use wind and solar power to provide electricity to all of the structures. Every structure has well and septic tank connections for indefinite supply of water  and sewage treatment. The Tiny Home community has a shared laundromat facility using the same utility system, so laundry services are maintained at a minimum cost to the community. Community mandates for the structures, combined with incentives for electric vehicles, has created an environment where there is almost no need for natural gas or fossil fuels. With basic maintenance and occasional equipment replacement the community could remain in this sustainable energy efficient state indefinitely.”

* aerial views of business park, inter-spliced with interior videos of each business segment*

“At the Atira Business Park patrons will find a variety of products and services.

We have an Arts Gallery with attached Hi-Tech Fully Equipped All Arts Studio space that fine artist and crafts persons from the region are welcome to rent space by the day, hour, or week.

We have a Healing Center with doctors working along side,  Acupuncturists, Herbalists, Nature-Paths, Massage Therapists, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Nutritionists, and Reiki practitioners. The goal of the Healing center is
Whole Health, and to that end we have a variety of payment programs to encourage utilizing the facility to its fullest, even in low income situations.

We have an Organic Grocery and Bakery that serves mostly foods grown and made here at Atira, supplementing with other sustainable  goods from socially responsible companies. Again the focus being whole health not just of the consumer, but of society as well. The grocery store has an attached Toddy shop and a modern day General Store Co-Op with home goods and clothing.

Finally, the icing on the cake, so to speak, is a restaurant serving a wide selection of vegan, vegetarian, and paleo foods accommodating for all dietary restrictions. This allows for even the strictest regime to be able to enjoy an evening of social levity through another cook’s touch.”

*aerial view of temple, followed by interior video tour, shot of peace pole at end*

“At this point we leave you with the focal point of Atira Community. The Temple of Atira: a non-denominational, multi-faith center for worship and community service. Located directly behind the main entrance and community Peace Pole to reinforce attitudes of Peace, Openness, Oneness, and Service; the Temple is designed by Monolithic Domes in cooperation with the Founders, this beautiful Temple serves as a worship facility for all who enter. The centerpiece of the main chapel is a 10 foot wide oculus window  with a monumental stained glass lamp configuration below it. The piece designed by Treasa Cailleach incorporates color and elemental energy theories into a circular pattern to mimic the shape of the oculus window, it serves as a modern throw-back to the Ancient Roman Temple- The Pantheon. It is designed to allow natural daylight to be the predominate light for the space when it is available, only necessitating electrical lighting during dark hours. The massive oculus floods the space with a beautiful rainbow of light, definitely putting the visitor in a spiritual frame of mind. The dome of the Temple is also painted in a style reminiscent of that found in the Sistine Chapel in Rome, though of much different imagery. Around the exterior of the main chapel are smaller individual chapels to represent all of the major religions of the world. Each chapel is adorned and blessed by  their respective faith leaders, the same as any official worship center for that faith.

Attached to the Temple is a wing for Atira Offices. These offices are the seat of all of the clerical functions of the temple and community as a whole. However, they are also the home for all of the charity services that Temple of Atira provides. This includes but is not limited to: food bank/meals on wheels, counseling and psychiatric services, rent/utility assistance programs, community helping hands, and transportation assistance. The services provided by Atira aim to at least mimic those of Catholic Charities or the United Methodist Church Services, though one day Atira hopes to outshine even the best of those types of charities. To accomplish this Atira merely asks patrons to donate or volunteer what/where they are able and as they feel called to provide for such divine endeavors, then follow up their visit to the temple with a wonderful stay in Atira and a good helping of That Great American Consumerism in the business park.

If you find yourself drawn to Atira, we believe you will find exactly what you came for, and every dollar you spend will not only fulfill your desires, but will contribute to this wonderful perpetual giving machine. You would be giving from your heart simply by enjoying some much needed rest and relaxation on your vacation from your own busy life.”

*Fade out from the shot of the Peace Pole*