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SOCIETY & CULTURE

 Traditional societies - Wisdom and Challenges
 by
Isabel Allende

SOUTH ASIAN FEATURE

 Hands Across Borders
- Bringing south Asia closer

 

 INTERVIEW

 Sunil Dutt


ART

 Shantiniketan and origin  of  Modern Art
 by
Vijay Kowshik

 
Modern Idiom in Pakistan's Art
 by
Niilofur Farrukh

 
Contemporary Art of  Bangladesh


TECHNOLOGY

Reinventing India
by
Mira Kamdar


LITERATURE

Sufis - the  poet-saints 
by
Salman Saeed


MUSIC

Music Gharanas & Generation 2000
by
Mukesh Khosla


ON THE FRINGE

The First People - Wanniyala Aetto of Sri Lanka and Jarawa of Andaman
by
Nalini Bakshi


WILDLIFE

Royal Bengal's last roar?
by
Dev Duggal

 

the craft shop

the print gallery

 

 

Page  4  of  5


Reflections

on

Traditional Cultures - their wisdom and challenges

by 

ISABEL ALLENDE

(Continued)

 

isabel_allende_-_recent.jpg (19492 bytes)"In most of the so-called Third World, large families are the rule. Few people would survive otherwise. One's life depends on relationships, on that web of connections composed of relatives, friends, and neighbors...Social security is guaranteed by the family, not by a plan or an institution, as happens in developed countries...In societies other than ours,  the elders have a respectable position in the community: their experience and wisdom are treasured. It also means that in extended families children are the responsibility not solely of their parents but of their many relatives and, in the larger sense, the village"- Isabel Allende

 


TO HELP INDIGENOUS PEOPLES preserve their cultural heritage,
we must first recognize its value. Borges, who has spent much of his life traveling to this vanishing world, recounts that he will never forget his first trip to Mexico in the late 1960s. There, any pretext served as a reason for a fiesta. People had time to gather together in markets during the day and in the plaza at night, singing, making music, celebrating. Children ran around freely, playing and shouting, with no one watching over them, because there was no danger. Old people sat talking in groups, while adolescents strolled around arm in arm. He tells how when he returned to the United States, he saw the terrifying loneliness of his culture from a new perspective. When he got onto a bus, he noticed the silence, the space among the riders, their systematic way of avoiding eye contact and, with greater reason, physical contact. In any public place we see the same thing; every person seems isolated inside a magnetic field. We are alone in a crowd. Between 1960 and 1990, the number of adults living alone tripled in the United States, and when the state and institutions fail, as so often happens, the weak are the first to suffer the terrible consequences. Every year an alarming number of solitary elderly people die without anyone even being aware of it. Their deaths are discovered when the neighbors complain about the smell! I wonder how many American children have never even seen their grandparents. We have lost a lot with progress.

IN MOST OF the so-called Third World, large families are the rule. Few people would survive otherwise. One's life depends on relationships, on that web of connections composed of relatives, friends, and neighbors. Every society must develop mechanisms for protecting that part of the population tat needs the greatest help, from children and the aged to women, the ill and disadvantaged, and the most desperately poor. In many parts of the world that protection is provided by people, not the state. Social security is guaranteed by the family, not by a plan or an institution, as happens in developed countries, where we must pay for the care of children, our elderly, the weak and ailing, and where we also pay for emotional assistance, even companionship. In societies other than ours, that means the elders have a respectable position in the community: their experience and wisdom are treasured. It also means that in extended families children are the responsibility not solely of their parents but of their many relatives and, in the larger sense, the village. Borges says that in Africa he photographed a woman who nursed her baby, then passed him to another woman, who also gave him her breast and in turn passed him to a third mother, who fed him and rocked him until he fell asleep. Children carry their younger brothers and sisters on their backs. There is so much touching! Before coming to the Untied States, I had never heard the term 'terrible twos' used to refer to a child of that age, and I didn't know that adolescence was a long period of martyrdom. In growing up, my children passed through stage after stage without any dramatic crisis, and when a crisis did arise it was diffused in the context of a large family in which each individual had his or her own problems and there were many people to help.

 

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