I picked up a newspaper the other day.
A specialized print for the Indian community group, printed especially for its particular audience to cater to their needs and issues, and to provide them with information on changes in local rules and regulations, and how they will affect them.
As I flipped the pages, I read about many things.
– The latest Bollywood gossip
– Upcoming concerts and lectures by visiting people
– Upcoming parties and get togethers organized by the Indian community
– Recent grants, meetings with politicians
– How to get my Visa quickly
– How to get a good immigration lawyer
– How to get my tax in order with a good accountant
– Where and how to cater for my next function / wedding
– Even how to learn instruments and dance classes.
The glaring disparity left me baffled. For if this paper was truly reflecting and catering to those who needed its information most, it had failed appallingly.
Where was the information on language and support services?
Where were the contact details for the depression and suicide help line?
Where were the contacts of an organization that could help me in a social crisis?
Where were the searching articles on what is and is NOT acceptable behavior?
Where were the articles on the recent spate of deaths and murders in the Indian Australian community?
Where were the well-researched and questioning articles on current and past injustices?
The paper is right however; it is truly a reflection on the migrant communities here. As long as there is a melee or fete around some function where men and women will sit segregated, where the men will sit and gossip and play cricket, while food is being served, where music will blare incessantly, and gossip will be traded, then all will be well with the world.
We have brought our selective vision with us.
We have built monumental temples, brought over countless artists, priests, cooks, and musicians to entertain and feed us. But our souls are unnourished.
We hope that the Vedic or philosophical lectures by a visiting priest or author will offset the actor or musician who will parade the latest banal Bollywood film.
If we truly wish for a change in the basic fabric in Indian society, instead of shaking our heads and wringing our hands at the latest gruesome story to flash across our screens, it is time to acknowledge that those very same issues have travelled with us, and are ongoing today.
Instead of reminiscing over the “good old days” and “todays generation” before promptly switching channels, it is time to turn to our partner and have a frank discussion.
“How was the engagement period for you?”
“What problems did you face when you were married”
“Did you take each step willingly, who advised and convinced you?”
“How do you think your own upbringing and its trauma’s have shaped you?”
“What would you have done differently had you a choice?”
For if it is not your partner, child, or relative that has undergone these difficult times, I can guarantee there will be others within your social sphere that have. It is time we viewed every interaction with our fellow community member not as that of idle curiosity and mental commentaries on their origins, and manners, but on true interest in their well-being.
How many times have we over-heard a terse or threatening discussion between partners? How many times have we witnessed harmful drinking, and other behaviors? How many times have we simply changed the subject or left the room when we have felt uncomfortable?
But what have we done to change or address it?
It may not be possible for everyone to intervene directly, but as a community we can set standards and expectations, and propagate information
We can publish in print and media on current issues and cases, and avenues for resolution.
It is no longer acceptable to direct someone to their local priest for a remedial ceremony, or too simply pretend that these issues are “none of our business”. We have done exactly that for too long already, and look where we are now?