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Newsletter. Issue 2008-22. October 25, 2008
 
 
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Commentary
 

The statements, opinions, or views in the following articles may not necessarily reflect that of the Goan Voice Canada.

 

Concentrate On Being Grateful
From: TheStar.com - Opinion
October 19, 2008


Excerpts: http://www.thestar.com/printArticle/519705
Dow Marmur

"Radical gratitude begins when we stop taking life for granted." So writes Mary Jo Leddy, teacher, author and social activist, in her book Radical Gratitude. She adds: "It arises in the astonishment at the miracle of creation and of our own creation."

Her standpoint is religious: "Gratitude is the foundation of faith in God as the Creator of all beginnings." But it's also relevant to those who describe themselves as non-believers, because to be grateful for who one is and for what one has is to say yes to life as is and not as one would like it to be, irrespective of one's religious orientation.

The blind desire for more often leads to envy that spoils our ability to enjoy what we have. Leddy asserts that such ingratitude is "ingrained in our economic system." It leads to excessive consumerism and mindless adoration of progress, irrespective of where that may lead us. As a person who has devoted her life to caring for others ? of late, specifically refugees ? she knows what she's talking about.

She urges her readers to develop enough of a distance from our material culture to enjoy life whether or not we have all that we would like to use and possess. That's particularly relevant in this period of economic anxiety and uncertainty.

I spent the early years of my life in abject poverty. I now live in considerable affluence and have no doubt that the latter is vastly preferable. Yet the prospect of having less doesn't alarm me unduly, even though old age breeds its own insecurities, because I'm trying my best to value matters that transcend the material. My aim is to learn from those who distinguish between having and being. I always fear that the more I have, the greater the risk of being ungrateful through the suspicion that others have even more. To concentrate on being rather than having makes for gratitude.

I hope the Thanksgiving that we celebrated last Monday is about that. It gives us an opportunity to be grateful, even if we don't know how to express it and to whom to address it. For, as Margaret Visser, the social commentator, writes in her new book The Gift of Thanks, gratitude goes "way beyond manners." She speaks of the failure to feel grateful as "a moral flaw."

Dow Marmur is rabbi emeritus at Toronto's Holy Blossom Temple.

 

Dynamics of Goa's "low intensity civil war"
If you treat the Goan like a crab, why complain when he acts like one?

By Jason Keith Fernandes


Excerpts from post on GoaNet
How entirely predictable are the ways of the world. For the longest time the Goan print media was controlled by the Big Business interests of Goa and any form of social dissent firmly muzzled.

This began to change as external business muscled its way into Goa and challenged the supremacy of Goan business over the creation of Goan news. Technology came to the support of the Goan Big Business however; and the Goan TV channels saw the light of day. Through this media once more the stage is open for Goan big business (namely mining) to mask the real issues and divert us to debating non-issues.

One such classic example is the debate organized by Prudent Media (funded and supported by the Fomento Mines) around the response of Goans to mega-projects. The theme of the debate was presented as 'Is Goa becoming eco-conscious or negative?'

If you didn't read the statement of its editor-in-chief, you might be under the impression that this was intended to be a serious debate. But regard his statements for just a moment; "Goans are presently in a mood to oppose everything, may it be the Regional Plan, SEZs, housing projects, garbage plants and even mobile towers. The Maha Sangram will debate upon whether this is eco-consciousness or a negative attitude that is growing among Goans."

The mood of the editor-in-chief of Prudent media is clearly evident, this is not really eco-consciousness that we are witnessing in Goa; it is negativity.

The idea of the debate on Prudent Media is thus to label the activism in Goa as negativity and discredit it. And discredit it not once, but twice over, through repeated telecasts of what is a clever industry strategy to ensure that voices of dissent are discredited and concerns muzzled.

Let us explore this idea of Goan negativity though, since it is one of the most common myths about the Goan attitude, and forms the basis of the current industry attack against Goan activism. One of the foundations for this "Goan negativity" lies in the story of the crab mentality of the Goan. The story goes that a basket can be filled to the brim with crabs and yet needs no cover to prevent them spilling out. This is because each crab will not let another rise above the other, and will promptly pull the other down. With the crabs behaving so, the basket needs no cover.

When analyzing this metaphor, the first point we need to remember is that that the crab mentality is attributed to almost every closely-knit community.

We will return to this universality of the metaphor, but only after we contemplate the condition of those poor crabs in the basket. What is significant I believe, is that the crabs have been pulled out of their natural habitat, been stuffed into a basket, and are slated for slaughter. It is this physical condition of discomfort and destruction that should necessarily be read into the metaphor to obtain a more sensitive understanding of the 'crab-like' Goan.

Let us first begin by acknowledging that for the most part, Goan society is composed not of the rich, but a peasant population that has struggled to enter into a middle class position; a good amount of them still struggling to enter that category and bracket.

The story of the migrant Goan is also the story of the tyranny of the landlord. The history of the Goan has therefore until recently been one of discomfort and destruction, similar to the crabs in our metaphor.

Unlike the crabs however, the oppressed Goan has also risen to the occasion and created environments of solidarity and help for each other. The kudds (clubs) of Bombay and Karachi are classic examples of this solidarity. The clubs catered to Goans newly arrived from the motherland in the strange environs of British-India and provided them a familiar and reassuring environment. The club then is a lasting example of the networks of solidarity that the Goan is capable of providing to another Goan.

The fragile world of the migrant, the oppressed and the poor (as many Goans in fact were -- and still are) relies to a large extent on solidarity. Solidarity demands that we all rise or fall together.

As such, if there is one person that seeks to rise quickly, without sharing the benefits of his or her rise with all, then this person is a threat to the solidarity of the group, its continued existence and must be brought back into place. It is this need for solidarity that forms the basis of the so-called crab mentality of the Goan and no doubt informs the accusation of 'negativity' that the captains of industry have been leveling against the Goan people's movement.

This history of the Goan, and this understanding of the 'crab-mentality' underlines an important fact. That human society has a tendency towards equality rather than inequality. In the face of aggression of any sort, the need for equality is asserted, and aggressively so if necessary. This is exactly what is occurring in Goa today.The Goans find themselves assaulted by forces of inequality that are determined to milk the environment dry and generate obscene levels of profit for the few, rather than for all Goans.

In the face of such a proposition, what other option does the Goan, rooted in a communitarian tradition that stresses solidarity, have exactly? When faced with a State that pretends to listen to their voices, but deceitfully pushes through plans that are consistently against the people, what else can they do but violently and consistently protest every action that the Government engages in?

The so-called negativity of the Goan people is not negativity in the least, but a demand for equality. It is a demand for a model of development that generates profits all around, and not only for the captains of industry and their henchmen in cushy positions of profit and power.

The systematic exploitation of the Goan has gone on so long, that the Goan public has been pushed into a corner and it is from this corner that they are fighting back. Rather than recognize this fact, the Government has chosen to side with the forces of inequality that threaten to push the Goan back into the basket of poverty that they have helped each other get out off. This is the reason for the vociferous opposition to the Government and the captains of industry.


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