Growing up in India , I had no concept of what “mind your own business” meant – none at all. That was not our thing . My mom always knew the grades of every kid in the neighborhood , the family next door knew exactly how much is my dad’s salary and all of that . If you really wanted to be a social outcast in my hometown , all you needed to say was “mind your own business ” in response to some deeply personal question . I should also add that if someone had a problem – there was usually no shortage of help , be it free food, unsecured personal loans etc. It is a mixed bag – you have to see it and live it to believe it.
With an entire society knowing your life like an open book – you can imagine the number of people who will mess with your every decision . Single parents – unless their spouse passed away or something – were frowned on and often could not even rent a house. The first time I knew about LGBT was when I read an article in college – and the first time I saw a movie in Malayalam about a gay hero was 2 weeks ago .
And then I moved to USA and started living here – and you can imagine the culture shock , especially on the “mind your own business ” dimension 🙂
Here is something I recently read on Facebook that might explain my situation when I moved here . A kid was riding a taxi and munching one chocolate after another . The driver asked him “Don’t you know this is bad for you?”. Kid said “My grandpa lived to be 130 years old”. Driver curiously asked “by eating a lot of chocolate ?” And the kid replied “no, by keeping his mouth shut and minding his own business”.
In short , I had a lot of adjustment to do when I started living here . And many years later – I have kind of a hybrid view on where to draw the line , which satisfies neither my American friends nor my Indian friends 🙂
Yesterday night, I was fascinated by what was happening in Austin,TX in their senate meeting . I simply could not believe my eyes – and now I am a HUGE fan of Senator Wendy Davis .
I firmly believe that Individuals should decide what works for them and what does not , and as long as it doesn’t harm others – society and government should stay away from dictating to individuals .
At the core of the issue for me is the concept of equality . It is 2013 now – the world should stop treating people differently . I have neither a left nor a right leaning politically , but I do expect everyone to be able to choose what they want to do with their life without worrying about the belief system of others . Most of us should have learned in school about separation of church and state – it is time to put it in action .
I am not pro or anti abortion – I am not a woman and consequently cannot claim to know what makes a woman choose one way or another . All I am saying is that just like a man can choose to do what he wants with his body – a woman should too . A woman should have exactly the same freedom to do what she wants with her body like any man – another man (or woman) shouldn’t dictate what she can or cannot do. Not all women think or act alike – so allow them to choose what they want as individuals rather than creating a one size fits all framework .
Instead of futile political bickering , I wish we spent the time, energy and money in educating people so that they can take better decisions and lead better lives . This country spends a lot of resources on wars , and put a lot of soldiers’ life at risk – cant we stop some wars and spend the resources instead on healthcare and education that will help many generations to come ?
While I seriously doubt any country can legislate its way to glory, I am not anti legislation either – it can actually be a useful tool . As many of you know, India had (probably still have) a problem with female feticide . They had to pass a legislation that doctors cannot disclose gender of the foetus before delivery to anyone including parents. And it worked – at least in my home state Kerala, there are now more women than men in the population . And that makes me proud , along with the fact that the state has 100% literacy which also happened in a large part (not fully though) because of effective government legislative action .
Growing up in India , I am well aware of the evil of discrimination – I have seen parts of this movie before.
A couple of generations ago ( and some of it still prevails) , based on caste, color of skin, social and economical status – a vast number of people never got a fair shot at leading a decent life in India. The country as a whole suffered as a result – and continues to carry the weight of that even today. It is no doubt a lot better now than in my grandfather’s generation – and India is now growing to be a global power . Knowing that history – it worries me all the more that US will make similar mistakes that India did instead of learning from it.
Can’t we all get along better and mind our own business more , and stop trying to mess with the life of fellow human beings ? Or is that too much to wish for ?