March 24, 2003
Revisiting India for the second time, I have been able to look with more aware eyes at the world I am living in. I can recognize those areas that I have romanticized?like the savory food that I now remember really does set my mouth on fire?and the things that I had underplayed in my memory?the sunlight as it filters through the dusty air in the morning traffic, which casts shadows on the people walking down the streets in their colorful dress. Much of it feels like d?j? vu or scenes from a dream so far away? every day. But the excitement of my first week in India was overshadowed by the news of aggression in Iraq.
It seems to have overshadowed everything, except one thing: the World Cup game: India versus Australia. I was fortunate enough to attend the valediction ceremony for a Bangalorian theological college, during which the guest valedictory speaker noted that they had feared that no one would come to the ceremony because the cricket game was on television. This was no understatement as I noted the empty and unusually silent main streets of the city. Even the cows and horses and dogs that often loom on the sidewalks and wander through the streets had stayed in for the match. Today?s newspaper cover story, as it has been during the past week, was in fact two stories with two equally large photos: one of the cricket match and the other of the Iraqi conflict.
But most importantly my daily thoughts, while trying to focus on my thesis, have been focused on the news of the clashing of arms occurring in the middle east. While I know no one presently in direct contact with the occurrences there, friends from all parts of the world (Spain, Turkey, London, Guatemala) are writing to me with thoughts, prayers, sadness and hopes about the current situation. While India has vocally spoken out about the war, people everywhere, in southern Bangalore (where I am) and New Delhi and various other cities are protesting, as I am sure you know. I hear that the protests in the States are louder and stronger than they have ever been in history. While I cannot join these protests, I hope to stand against this violence by being here (wherever here is)?
An hour or so ago I emerged from an interview with a Friends World adjunct faculty member who spoke about what he sees as the very essence of the FW mission statement, which is the idea of world citizenship. The statement declares, ??take as its mission the development of well-educated world citizens?? and while the mission goes on to specify the manners in which these ?world citizens? will be educated, the exact definition of this kind of person is left ambiguous. As a Friends World student, what exactly am I attempting to do as I strive to be a world citizen? The faculty member spoke of the humanitarian, a person viewing the people of the world as both similar and different. We are all humans, and in that we share a bond. On a large scale we act with similar patterns and functions and manners. On a more specific scale, our particular contexts and cultures define our identities, those aspect of our beings that separate us into group and individuals and make us very different from one another. The defining characteristic of a world citizen, he suggested, was one who views the world as the humanitarian does?with a conception of the commonalties and the diversity of people in our world?and who not only takes this perspective but also attempts to bridge this gap. This bridge won?t be built through the ending of poverty or world peace, but through an attempted understanding of these gaps that exist. In my travels, not only this year but in my past 2 ? years with Friends World, I have experienced the clashing and crashing of cultures in which my level of knowledge of these other peoples has been embarrassingly small. But my attempt, my attempt to understand from the perspective of those I encounter who are so different, is how I hope to protest against this war that I feel has escalated with the help of a great lack of sincere attempting to understand?to want to understand.
Much love to you, Lucas. I hope you are well and safe. See you very soon!!!!!! How time flies?