What would it take to turn around this atmosphere of stress and disturbance, and fragmented thought in our society so that we can progress as one? I especially draw your attention towards violence against women and the environment.
—Vandana Shiva, environmentalist
Sri Sri: The problem is the lack of education, and more importantly, spiritual education, that makes people so hard. It is important to educate people, especially cultivate a scientific approach, to see life in a bigger context.
The second cause of crime, especially violence against women is intoxicants. I am told that 93 per cent of crimes against women happen under the influence of alcohol and drugs. In the night, men abuse their wives and in the morning they fall at their feet and ask for forgiveness.
This happens a lot in rural areas. Women being naturally compassionate, pardon them. Then again husbands start abusing their womenfolk. We need to change the whole attitude — only then, can we have a safe society.
The theme of this conference is, ‘Harmony — Evolution towards Perfection’. Well, we might catch glimpses of perfection when we are meditating and doing kriya alone but when we move in society, at the workplace or family — especially as women engaged in multiple roles — we see violence and then that glimpse of perfection becomes more and more distant.
—Cristina Gabetti, writer and TV journalist, Italy
Sri Sri: How to sensitise people, especially men? As someone said in the conference, men need to be sensitised about women’s needs, their issues. There is not just crime against women; there is crime against senior citizens and children, even infants. All this happens because there is imbalance in development of mind and heart. Our education has stuffed us with so much information and facts, but has made us dry and devoid of sensitivity. In life, we need two things: sensibility and sensitivity. Sensibility is of the intellect and a lot has been done in developing that. But not much has been done to make people sensitive.
We need the perfect balance, only then there can be harmony. The mind always wants something new, but the heart wants something old. You never say, “This is my new friend”. You always say, “This is my old friend”, isn’t it? An old friendship is honoured. Education and the environment at home and the workplace should bring about change and awareness.
Speaking of harmony and peace, what is your vision for the Kurdish people who are divided in four different countries?
Sri Sri: The problem is centuries old. There is no one solution. Basically, I would say keep connecting people. Wherever you see sparks or tension coming up, see if you can do something to cool down the tension. I think it was in 2007, a group of Iraqi and Israeli participants had come to the Ashram for a course.
When the Iraqis first got to know that the Israelis are here, they were angry — “If we had known that the Israelis are here, we would have never come.” But then they could not just leave and take the next flight back home. So they stayed and did the course. But after 2-3 days when they spent time together, things changed. So much so that at the end of the course when it was time to leave, everyone had tears in their eyes. An artificial fear psychosis has been created by perhaps political parties and vested interests in the minds of people. We need to spread this message: we are all human beings; let’s wake up and come together!
How can we end crimes against women, especially in metropolitan cities in India?
—Mary Kom world boxing champion
Sri Sri: First of all we need to create more support groups. We do happiness surveys — volunteers go door-to-door and find out what is the main cause of unhappiness in families because if families are not happy, violence increases in society. That kind of social interaction will perhaps help. Stringent laws are required but that is after the crime is committed. We need a wave of awareness campaigns to prevent crime from taking place.
Intoxicants are one of the main reasons for violence; addiction happens because people are not happy.
We need to bring the sense of comfort and caring; we can think of a million such plans on how to change society on how to bring about greater togetherness. We had this earlier in our country when we grew up with ideals of Gandhi. Today if you are aggressive, then you are a hero.
Those days, you were appreciated if you were compassionate. So ego and pride getting attached to aggression is one of the problems in society, and watching violent movies de-sensitises people to violence.
Shooting ships and people in video games — one day you can do it in real life. We should do away with violent games. Education and awareness can play big roles.
We have so much poverty. Why is it that people go to church and yet are not able to access abundance? What are we not teaching right in our day-to-day teachings?
—Griselda, South African radio DJ
Sri Sri: Greed is the result of insecurity. When there is not enough love, you become greedy because the only security you can think of is money. Greed of a few is responsible for poverty of many. Corruption can destroy nations.