Monday, December 31, 2007

Daniel in India

My brother Daniel and his fiance Meena are in India now, visiting her family and shopping for their wedding. He has recently sent an update letter and a couple of the things he has said really intrigue me. One is worth sharing with you.

"There will be poor always." I think somebody famous said that. In India (from my 48 hours of exposure) there appears to be a different mentality of the poor in juxtaposition to the U.S. They are a part of life, as are the wealthy, and they must play their part in this life. There is not the mentality that they should pull themselves up by the bootstraps and make something of themselves, or that god has punished them.

There is something appealing about this mindset. He has found the opposite of what is most objectionable about American attitudes towards poverty. Absolutely, I think it's awful that so many Americans both resourced and under-resourced would agree that poverty is a punishment. And certainly, Daniel is quoting the words of Jesus correctly. I feel a little itchy with this view, though, because it feels a little conflicting with my interpretation of Christ's commandment to love others as myself. I would want to be taught how to pull myself up by my bootstraps. I would not want my place in this life to be one that required charity for survival. It's a difficult tension that I'm not sure how to resolve.

Of course this is just funny:

I have enclosed a few photos (hopefully), the first is of me touching Divinder Mama and Indu auntie's feet. They are my host's as well as my new aunt and uncle. In India you touch the feet as a sign of respect and then you receive a blessing and in some cases money (notice my left hand). I'm in the black so far on this trip because I keep touching everybody's feet, but I think that well is gonna run dry soon.

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