Vanity thought #1642. Zooming out

According to my last post, the current turmoil in Māyāpura is caused by differences in our bodies and in our bodily perceptions. These differences didn’t appear magically but they have been governing our behavior our entire lives and will probably continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

White devotees will remain white and they will always consider themselves superior to Indians by the dint of being from the first world. Indians have their own take on the situation and see themselves as superior to white devotees because ISKCON in the West is in decline. White devotees might appear as being from the first world to them but in real life they have only advertising value when Indians come to other Indians to collect donations. “Look how cute they are, don’t you want to sponsor training them yourself? It’s our duty as Indians to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness and we in ISKCON are very successful at it, so give us the money.”

Of course I’m overly cynical here and I hope none of our Indian devotees would ever actually say such things in public but that’s how it looks from their material perspective and that’s the vision our sponsor can share, too. Westerners import Indians to server as pūjārīs, as I said, but Indians import westerners to collect donations for their training, like an expensive breed of dogs. It’s just what often happens whether we talk about it or not.

At this point it’s very important to avoid the temptation and criticize any of the sides to this conflict. This dynamic in the relationships is not caused by anyone in particular, nor even by ISKCON, it’s only a local manifestation of a deeper, long festering discord sowed in the society by Kali yuga.

We did not invent the first world – third world dichotomy. Devotees from former USSR used to be lumped with third world when they came to Māyāpura festivals and where offered special prices but I don’t think this policy is still in place. This discrimination only reflects the material differences across the globe. White people have more money and they can, therefore, consume more services. Even Prabhupāda acknowledged this special power of his western disciples, thought he obviously used this for their spiritual advantage.

Since the 70s, however, the material world has changed. There’s still the division into first world and developing countries but the differences are becoming blurred and supremacy of the western civilization often openly challenged. Muslims with their ISIS is probably the prime example but China and Russia are losing their respect for the West, too. They have seen it, tasted it, and found their own way better.

I think India is on the way to the same discovery, too, even if they still consider British and Americans to be inherently superior. Some people there are more advanced than others but even those who do not realize how utterly corrupt western societies are can listen to Americans glorifying themselves only for so long before the resentment settles in.

Iraq war was probably the biggest turning point that destroyed West’s moral authority but it was only a one step in the long journey. Feminism and emancipation have run into pushbacks and gay rights even more so. The media might report on progress and westerners might give out Nobel prizes to girls like Malala but there’s a large segment of third world population that is having none of it, it’s just no one ever speaks for them in the media.

There’s pushback in the West itself, too – just look at success of Donald Trump or rising nationalistic movements in Europe. The days of unrestrained “progress” are almost over and the utopia that has been sold to the public for half a century is getting stale. European Union’s very existence is under real stress and American Dream is getting further and further from the reality.

Trump might be seen very negatively by the progressives but the fact is that Democrat’s possible contender for the presidential post, Hillary Clinton, is very unlikable, too. She has many detractors who see her as lying, unprincipled politician who cannot be trusted, and many of these detractors are themselves progressives, too!

Hillary Clinton in many ways exemplifies the brand of progress that has been pushed on the society for decades now. By typical progressive standards she says all the right things and supports all the right values but there’s a loss of faith in this model of progress itself and it’s not only Americans who have noticed it.

There’s also the perception that current US president is weak and lacks a backbone. He shies away from confrontations and countries all around the world are taking advantage of it. Russians took Crimea, for example, while Chinese are taking over contested islands in the South China sea. Turks are attacking Kurds despite American objections. Turkey and Saudi Arabia are both sponsoring ISIS. Israeli Prime Minister openly snubbed Obama and went to speak in front of Republican dominated Congress instead. Egypt had an outright military coup where the army deposed a democratically elected leader and slaughtered over a thousand of his supporters and the US eventually accepted it just fine.

In this atmosphere white people lecturing others on how to live their lives are not viewed very favorably. Hardly anyone takes their talk about democracy and human rights at the face value, it’s not the 90s anymore. One look at the US presidential campaign and people think that Americans have gone total nuts, and everyone is aware of the possibility of American sponsored “regime changes” for those who don’t toe the line.

My point is that being white used to be an advantage but not anymore, the world is more nuanced now. White people should be very aware of what they say and to who, they have billions of potential enemies who would snatch any opportunity to put self-righteous to the point of being obnoxious white men in their place. Some would chop their heads off, some would take their money, but everyone would use their available means.

It’s the side-effect of promoting democracy and rights – you can’t mistreat those who you preach to, they will use these same rights to push you back.

So the point today is that our little conflict in Māyāpura plays out according to general plan set for the Kali yuga, it’s not this or that person’s fault, it’s not even the fault of devotees from this or that country, it’s the Earth-wide natural animosity. We are being driven to fight with each other by hundreds of years of history so we shouldn’t take it seriously but rather tolerate it like we should tolerate changing seasons. It’s not who we are and it has nothing to do with us and our spiritual lives.

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