158: NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL PRACTICAL CHRISTIANITY #17: Dalit solidarity

“Zingcreed: a Christian/Atheist polemic by Peter Turner, M.A., M.Sc. Thinking aloud about religion.”

In my humble opinion (and as a non-Christian, this is not really any of my business) self-professed believers should try and do some good with their lives, otherwise they are no different from non-believers; and they are ignoring the teachings of the one they purport to follow. They must expect to be judged by what they do rather than by what they believe because that can’t be seen by outside observers like me unless it expresses itself in good works like helping those worse off than themselves. As an uninvolved bystander I am always very pleased to come across instances, either in my daily life or in the media, where Christians do more than ‘talk the talk’: they ‘walk the walk’. It is my pleasure to record some of these Works in my own humble blog, and to wish that I as an atheist could do half as much.

A good starting point for following Jesus’ commands to help the underdogs of this world would seem to be to identify a group of people that quite clearly are being systematically oppressed. To learn all one can about them, and then to see what assistance they might be willing to accept, or allowed to accept by their oppressors. Remembering that if the oppression is long-term and institutional to ask yourself what happens when you’ve disappeared from the scene a century down the road, and your input is no longer available to them. Will their oppressors then tighten the garrot worse than it was before? Be clear that you are empowering them to liberate themselves and not on some ego-trip with your own political/career hidden agenda (“oh, this project will help me get a job with that NGO and put me on a higher moral plain than my friends/colleagues”)

The Untouchables or Dalit of India are provably one of the largest, most oppressed groups of people on the planet. They and the tribal communities are denied dignity from birth and throughout their lives. They are stigmatised by the rest of society, and can expect only poverty and discrimination until the day they die. Dalit women in particular are isolated and excluded. Often they accept others’ low opinion of themselves and internalise their low status as if it were deserved.

The organisation MWiB (Methodist Women in Britain) have produced a resource pack with recipes, maps and details of projects underway. They have notelets available with Jyoti Sahi’s painting of the Dalit Madonna on them. If I can get one I’ll place it on this Post retrospectively. MWiB point out that it is all too easy to talk about people without talking to them and listening to them. (Incidentally, that is the point of my ‘London’s Homeless Talk’ Posts: I don’t give any advice or addresses or hostel numbers, I just listen and publish what they say for all to read)

MWiB hope to implement the following:
providing more access to education for Dalit girls
gifts of land or seeds to provide family food and a surplus to sell

Both of these approaches are complex and riddled with potential pitfalls. It’s an ambitious undertaking, so good luck to them and let’s give them our support in whatever way we can.

Source:

“Christians Aware” magazine Summer 2013 p. 28

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