Just discovered this poet. QUITE taken with her.
“ It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed. ”
“ I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times, in life after life, in age after age forever. ”
Rabindranath Tagore (via whatokay)
The effect of corruption I find most underacknowledged is a contraction not of economic possibility, but of our moral universe. In my reporting, I am continually struck by the ethical imaginations of young people, even those in circumstances so desperate that selfishness would be an asset.
Children have little power to act on those imaginations, and by the time they grow up, they may have become the adults who keep walking as a bleeding waste-picker slowly dies on the roadside, who turn away when a burned woman writhes, whose first reaction when a vibrant teenager drinks rat poison is a shrug. How does that happen? How - to use Abdul’s formulation - do children intent on being ice become water?
A cliché about India holds that the loss of life matters less here than in other countries because of the Hindu faith in reincarnation, and because of the vast scale of the population. I’ve found that young people feel the loss of life acutely. To my mind, what appears to be indifference to other people’s suffering has little to do with reincarnation, nothing to do with being born brutish, and a great deal to do with conditions that can sabotage innate capacities for moral action.
In places where government priorities and market imperatives create a world so capricious that to help a neighbor is to risk your ability to feed your family, and sometimes even your own liberty, the idea of the mutually supportive poor community is demolished. The poor blame one another for the choices of governments and markets, and we who have means are ready to blame the poor just as harshly.
It is easy, from a safe distance, to overlook the fact that in undercities governed by corruption, where exhausted people vie on scant terrain for very little, it is blisteringly hard to be good. The astonishment is that some people are good, and that many people try to be—all those invisible individuals who every day find themselves faced with dilemmas not unlike the one Abdul confronted, stone slab in hand, one July afternoon when his life exploded.
If the house is crooked and crumbling, and the land on which it sits is uneven, is it possible to make anything lie straight?”
From Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo (author’s end note). Explains also the notion of systemic hurdles… Reminds me of this from a Salon article:
“Like so many …I had assumed that society’s “losers” had somehow earned their deserts. As I came to recognize that poverty is not earned or chosen or deserved …I realized with a shock that I had effectively viewed whole swaths of the country and the world as second-class people.”
“Was it to protect our …version of “individual responsibility”? That notion is fundamental to the …worldview. “Bootstrapping” and “equality of opportunity, not outcomes” make perfect sense if you assume, as I did, that people who hadn’t risen into my world simply hadn’t worked hard enough, or wanted it badly enough, or had simply failed. “
(by Jeremiah Goulka, Confessions of a Former Republican, originally on Salon.com)
“ In the West, and among some in the Indian elite, this word, corruption had purely negative connotations; it was seen as blocking India’s modern, global ambitions. But for the poor of a country where corruption thieved a great deal of opportunity, corruption was one of the genuine opportunities that remained. ”
Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Katherine Boo