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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chelsea Clinton’s wedding dress

Chelsea Clinton
A letter in a recent issue of Time magazine thanked the editors for having the courage to print the cover image and story about the mutilation of a young girl’s face by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The unfortunate girl who was caught fleeing the home of her abusive in-laws had her nose and ears sliced off by her husband while the brother-in-law held her down. She was left bleeding and unconscious on a mountainside. The reader ended by saying: “We get so wrapped up in today’s water cooler gossip in our celebrity-centric society (Mel Gibson’s rants, Heidi Montag’s surgeries, Chelsea Clinton’s wedding dress) that we forget about the real issues affecting this world.”

Now, while a perverted vision of some abusive fourth century frontier justice that horrifically mutilates and degrades women for attempting to assert their dignity is in no way conscionable, it’s interesting to note the comment made vis-à-vis ‘real issues’ . Because the irony is that our perception of such things usually refers to front page stuff, not something that’s buried inside or never mentioned at all.

So what actually makes water cooler gossip a not-so-real or unreal issue? A celebrity undergoing a liposuction procedure is news for a great deal of people. But the way we teach ourselves to deal with this phenomenon is by according it lesser importance in some cosmic scale of things. As if God who tracks the fall of each sparrow somehow relegates the event to a lower pedestal than the fall of the Roman Empire.

Also, by this token, the absolute obliteration of a mosquito by squashing its entire body parts to a smear of pulp on our skin can somehow never be equated with a poacher carving a living rhino’s horn out of its head and leaving it to die a bloody death. In fact even the idea of such a heinous comparison is insane, laughable and absurd. Enormity, visibility and in-your-face action apparently matters; not the loss of a life.

The young novice, new in the monastery, was in a hurry for personal illumination. On the second day he mustered the courage to go up to the Master who was deep in meditation and waited at his lotus feet till he opened his eyes before asking what he needed to do in order to gain enlightenment. He was told to sweep the yard and wash the utensils in the kitchen. Fourteen years later the man was still doing the same thing. And no, he was not the new Master in the monastery now.

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