last night i wrote an email to my guruji when i learned a western women had been murdered in the same village i am teaching yoga at just 2 months ago:
i am not usually afraid, but it is scary to think about possible backlash for women's empowerment. i wanted to do abishekam with these women too.
i recieved an answer from him this morning:
My dear Psalm,
You write so well !
When you go to a village to work with locals, it is wise to go with someone who has worked with them, and who won the confidence of the people whom you are trying to help. The social concepts of right and wrong are very strong in villages; your fears are genuine. Even if some one does puja at home, people think they want to harm others, and brand them wicked.
Actually the word wicked comes from the wiccans, who used to have meetings, where they "wicked", that is, practiced. They never meant harm; the motto of wiccans is do what you will, as long as it hurts none. We have moved far from the days of burning witches on the stake. But the mob mentality still persists.
Skills of social anthropology (observing without judgement or trying to change) help in rural development. You are much safer in slums in urban areas I think. Because they accept change easier and faster.
How can "we" decide in how much time '"they" should change?" Change comes from awareness, interest, desire and action. It takes time. We can sow the seeds and water the roots. You can't speed up the growth by pulling on the plant.
Probably, you do your thing; let people observe and join if they wish to. Go slow; villages are vey sleepy places, steeped in age old beliefs and not easy to change. You are much better off in areas where some social imrovement groups are actually working successfully.
You are not alone. We have to be together. Then only an impact can be made.
" Fools tread where angels fear to go"