Sunday, June 23, 2013

Freedom, comfort or money

If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.

如果一个国家看重的是自由之外的其它东西,这个国家将失去自由; 
讽刺的是,如果一个国家看重的是物质与金钱,那么这个国家也将最终失去这些。 

-- W. Somerset Maugham

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tagore to Gandhi on non-corporation movement in India, 1919

“I have always felt, and said accordingly that the great gift of freedom can never come to a people through charity. We must win it before we can own it. And India's opportunity for winning it will come to her when she can prove that she is morally superior to the people who rule her by their right of conquest. She must willingly accept her penance of suffering, the suffering which is the crown of the great. Armed with her utter faith in goodness, she must stand unabashed before the arrogance that scoffs at the power of spirit.

And you have come to your motherhood in the time of her need to remind her of her mission, to lead her in the true path of conquest, to purge her present-day politics of its feebleness which imagines that it has gained it purpose when it struts in the borrowed feathers of diplomatic dishonesty.

This is why I pray most fervently that nothing that tends to weaken our spiritual freedom may intrude into your marching line, that martyrdom for the cause of truth may never degenerate into fanaticism for mere verbal forms, descending into self-deception that hides itself behind sacred names. "

--Tagore to Gandhi, on non-corporation movement, 13th April 1919

I am a strong supporter of non-corporation movement, as well as a seeker for truth. Tagore tells the ultimate truth through the above lines, it wet my eyes. India was lucky. Hope the superiority of spirituality marches on.



“我常有感而言,自由之大礼,不可能通过他人的施舍而获得。在有权拥有自由之前,我们必须赢得自由。只有印度能证明她比强势征服了她的统治者在道行上高人一等的时候,印度赢得自由的机会才可能降临。她必须心甘情愿地接受苦难的修行,因为苦难是但凡伟大之物的桂冠。她要面无愧色地站立在对精神力量嗤之以鼻的无理傲慢之前,把她对善与德的终极信仰当作武器。

你恰恰在她需要他人督促其历史使命的时候,回到了你的母地,你将带领印度走上真正的征服之路,清除现今政府的软弱点,他们自认为委有其命,实际上只是效仿了(英国式的)官僚作风,以说谎的方式谄媚讨好(英国殖民者)。

因之我最虔诚地祈祷,在你的行军路上永不会出现削弱我们精神自由的势力,为真理殉难的伟业永不会降格为只流于口头的狂热,并永不会沦为藏身于圣名之下的自欺欺人。” 

-- 摘选自泰戈尔给甘地的信 1919年4月13日 


泰戈尔与甘地的友谊始于1914年,当时甘地因为在南非反对种族隔离的运动逐渐为印度人所知,1914年甘地带着他在南非的学生回到印度泰戈尔创建的大学进行学习交流,两人一见如故,所执的哲学、政治想法大同,从此建立了深厚的友谊,持续到泰戈尔1941年去世。“用心平气和战胜怒发冲冠,用善的力量战胜邪恶”,这是甘地的基本理念,泰戈尔对此非常认同。 

但是随着非暴力不合作运动的展开,泰戈尔与甘地的政见出现了很大分歧,以上的这封信所写时期1919至1922年是甘地的非暴力运动走向全国的时候,泰戈尔对运动中的一些具体事件、国民的行为以及甘地的理念产生了质疑。具体来讲,比如泰戈尔不赞同在没有其它更好的教育模式的前提下,呼吁全国学校进行罢课,这只会导致更多国民无法接受好的教育;再比如泰戈尔认为在甘地“自给自足”的经济理念下,把非国产的衣服烧掉,将印度从经济上与世界孤立开,并不能从实质上解决印度的问题;泰戈尔还认为在甘地的领导下,运动太过专注于殖民者的恶与西方文明的不足,太过高估了民族主义、爱国主义情绪的作用,从而并没有从人性、人权、平等的广度来对自身进行足够的反思。

对于这些分歧点两人虽然始终各执己见,一度处于辩论的模式,但并没有影响到之间的友谊,两人对对方依然报有最大程度的崇敬之情。虽然有很多甘地的追随者质疑“一个诗人凭什么对领引印度走向独立的伟大运动有这么多意见?” 甘地从没有轻视过泰戈尔的意见和想法,在泰戈尔去世前四年的1937年,两人再次见面,认为他们的想法其实是大异中的大同。

在看这本叫《圣雄甘地与诗人泰戈尔的历史信札 》(The Mahatma and the Poet: Letters and debates between Gandhi and Tagore, 1915-1941)的书信录,我常常看湿了眼睛。我想印度有甘地这样带领全国以非暴力的方式走向独立与民主的政治家,还有泰戈尔这样执着于追求真理与自由精神的思想家,思想家还能与政治家平等对话,并牵制住政治家,印度是无比幸运的,这种幸运甚至超乎了我的想像。

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

India's prostitution/sex slave industry

India has more sex slaves than any other country in the world. India's caste system is divided into many subcastes, many of which are tied to a particular job, including prostitution. These women are fated to be prostitues. A girl born to a woman who comes from that part of society where prostitution is traditionally-accepted way of life, she doesn't know how to think anything else, she just accepts it as part of her fate. A lot of things go on in the name of tradition.

The caste system is totally a watertight compartment, you are just born into it, you can't make any movement, generation after generation, all the women in that subcaste become prostitues, and nobody thinks that it's anything unusual or horrendous, or it has to be stopped and challenged. The Indian society has always chosen to look away, nobody wants to see it, nobody wants to do anything about it...

One of the global paradoxes is that countries with the most conservative sexual mores tend to have the most prostitution, these are also countries where women have very little value...

Indian brothels are among the most brutal in the world, one of the things that Indian brothels periodically do that brothels in the other parts of the world don't is they will kill girls there who are uncooperative. As long as the victims are poor, rural, female, illiterate village kids, they are disposable, they don't matter in the system, they don't have a voice.

According to the Central Bureau of Investigation's statistics in India, about 3 million women are trapped in prostitution, of this 1.2 million are children. The average age of entering into prostitution is 9 to 13 years old, and the National Human Right Commission in India is saying that the ages are coming down.

In India trans-generational prostitution is very normal, women prostitues often force their 14-year-old daughters into taking clients because women who are in prostitution have very little ability to make their daughters aspire to be something different, and it's not that the trans-generational prostitution happen because they want to make it happen, but because they have no option, they have no escape...

-- From "Half the Sky" documentary