Sunday, November 9, 2008

Identifying with India

Here's an article written by a woman who was in India on election day. I love all things Indian (except perhaps the food), so I couldn't resist posting this (she refers to some of the cities Dad and I visited when we were there in 2004). I highlighted the parts that really spoke to me. You may or may not agree with what she says or thinks politically, but I think this piece is really important because it helps show how people of other nations see our nation. It's an interesting perspective, to be sure.

Through Indian Eyes
Lynda Resnick Posted November 9, 2008 | 02:27 PM

My husband and I were in India during the U.S. election. Of course we cast (so to speak) our Obama votes before traveling to India during the last three weeks of the campaign -- an insightful experience. We followed CNN throughout our journey, but we were more drawn to news from the BBC and local Indian channels.

Everywhere we went, from Mumbai to Jodhpur to Delhi, people were curious and engaged in our election, and everyone knew the players. They were all rooting for Obama. We met some corporate leaders who were concerned that Obama might cave to the unions and tighten up foreign trade, and some royals who were negative about anyone darker than they are, but men and women in the streets, no matter how humble, were rooting for Obama.

It was the first time in a long time that "I felt proud to be an American," to borrow words from our soon-to-be First Lady. The last time people abroad felt that kind of affinity with an American political figure was when John Kennedy was in office. I don't believe their support for Obama was just because his skin is brown like theirs. It is a combination of gravitas and spiritual calm that attracted the limpid brown eyes of a magical country. Ganesha is the charming elephant god that most Hindus hold sacred... as I visited shops to find the perfect one to bring home, one shopkeeper after another confided that our candidate Obama also has a Ganesha in his home.

As the results came in on election night, and tears of joy and hope streamed down my face, I realized that America had finally grown up. The polls didn't lie; we were actually achieving the divine state of color blindness. The window is open and we can grab opportunity, we can make changes, we can mature and we will be able to manage the crises of our modern society. The "me generation" doesn't work anymore. The new calling is for the collective consciousness. If one doesn't care about the common good and only focuses on their own greed, they will be hard-pressed to find comfort in this new era.

How perfectly curious it was to be in India during this historical moment. The myth about traveling there is that you will shocked by the poverty, but I'd traveled to Cambodia when Pol Pot was still lurking in the jungle and saw a civilization returned to the Stone Age by endless war. What shocked me in India was how joyful the citizens are. Their lives are tough, even for the rich ones. I felt an almost equal empathy for the Maharani I visited who lived in a gargantuan place crumbling around her, as I did for street people who pedaled our rickshaw. The spirit of the place is life-changing -- it gives you hope for all mankind.

When we landed at LAX after 26 hours of flying, L.A. looked sparklingly clean (I didn't know a Santa Ana wind had just come through). I practically kissed the customs officer and couldn't get a smile off my face. I remember when I was a child and my parents would travel abroad, they would tell me, "I kissed the ground when I came home." It has been a long time since I felt like that, but I do now. Our troubles are grave, but they are nothing when you look at the emerging nations of the world; it is a mind change that we need. We still have clean water and can breathe most of the air without fear of lung problems, and while our society tends to make wrong food choices, safe food is there for the buying. Unless you have traveled to India or China you have no idea how compromised these basics of life can be.

Everyone is asking, "What can I do as a citizen?" We are ready like we were for that one moment after 9/11 -- ready to follow a bold leader. At last we have one, and I believe that our collective consciousness will push us toward the sacrifices we must make to cure our ills. A beautiful man of color will lead us. My hand is raised, "call on me."

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