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of Sathya Sai Baba And his worldwide cult, the Sathya Sai Organization

Posts Tagged ‘Culture’

Where Birds and Kids Can’t Sing

Posted by Barry Pittard on April 19, 2013

Barry Pittard. May 22, 2013

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The greatest motivation compelling the response of most former Sathya Sai Baba followers around the world has been:  out of the depths of natural love for the young and the wish to protect them from abuse, to expose him and his authoritarian cult. 

There is a saying attributed to Jesus which has, from my childhood and all through my life, resonated from the depths of my soul: 

“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea”.

An Angel Singing and Skipping On The Sports Field

Last Monday, I was deeply moved.  Taking lunch to a child, I walked across a school sports field   A girl in the lower primary school, small for her age, skipped past me, merrily singing. The child’s happy state was delightful in itself, but what astonished me was her extraordinarily fine voice and the joy that suffused it. In the skipping was the song, and in the song was the skipping. I continued walking, heart skipping.

In a minute or so, she again skipped past , still singing. This time, I realized that she was a child I had known a little, along with her family, on and off, over recent years. I had not known of her remarkable talent, but only of the fine voice of her older sister. The children’s parents, too, love singing.

This time, I said:  “What a lovely voice you have.”  She replied that she loves singing along with operas and also musicals such as those of Andrew Lloyd-Webber. With a sense of dedication, in which I thought I detected a deal of true grit, she told me of her operatic and musical comedy ambitions. “Would you like to hear a song?”  she asked. Yes, I would. She then launched into a Lloyd-Webber song, and sang it with purity, power and rhythmic and note perfection.  

After she had finished, she told me how kids at the school make fun of her for going around singing. As though to underline her report, when she sang a couple of kids made fun of her. I told her, “Little do they know. You will have to work hard and sometimes even fight for the beauty that you feel. Keep doing the thing you love, and ignore what is not love”.

I thought:  what an often cultureless desert these children are growing up in. Here is this girl with supportive parents who surround their children with wonderful artistic role models. But here – elsewhere about her – is a great deal of cultural desert. And here were school children responding, and with such harsh negativity, re-processing the cultural aridity of their parent’s lives. Like parents, like children. What a sore heritage. In Australia, cultural pursuits are often downgraded and denigrated, with an obsessive sport predominating. All too little in the way of a healthy body, mind and spirit. After all these years, our education system profoundly lacks, for example, a response to such extremely major work on several forms of intelligence that need to be understood, worked with, and made integral to education. See Professor Howard Gardiner, et al. For a true educator/liberator, see Sir Ken Robinson on TED Talks; e.g.,: Do schools kill creativity”

The woman who in her fifties chastened the world, and challenged its chauvinistic stereotypes of what a nightingale should look like

The Scottish woman who in her late forties and since chastened the world, and challenged its chauvinistic stereotypes of what a nightingale should look like

Although this was a local sports field, where hopes and dreams can die in anonymity, I thought of the event  – which the world will long remember – of the Scottish singer Susan Boyle’s appearance on the highly-rated British  TV program Britain’s Got Talent on in April 2009, singing “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Misérables – of which I have written here:  Susan Boyle. Unexpected Divine Chanteuse. Sweet 47. Posted by Barry Pittard on April 17, 2009.

Heaven preserve, for a while, this little one from the fierce competitiveness that attends the likes of American Idol  – but I wouldn’t be surprised if her ability were an audience jaw-dropper if she appeared on such a show. Trustfully, singing teachers or directors who lack wisdom and angelhood will not crab the angelic and glorious connection between this child’s skipping and her careless rapture. 

As I walked out of the school, inspired by the sportsfield meeting, tunes started to come, and by yesterday I completed the lyrics. It is a song for a young child to sing – or for the young child in any of us to sing:

Where birds and kids Can’t Sing. Barry Pittard. (17 April 2013)

I’m not so old and I love to skip

And when I skip I sing

I sing and cannot help it

And it feels

Like such a natural thing

I dreampt that once an angel came

She sat by me and sang

She sang and could not help it

And it felt

Like such a natural thing

   But kids at school say – “Do not skip!

   Your a bit too old to sing and skip!”

   They laugh, they tease, they say “Grow up”!

   And the really mean ones shout “Shut up”!

I dreampt once of an emperor

Who told the birds – “Don’t Sing … Don’t sing!”

I thought – what sort of land is this?!

This cage most maddening!

And now I keep on wondering –

Who says that kids can’t sing?! Who says that kids can’t sing?!! WHO says that kids can’t sing?!!!

And might our land become a cage

Where birds and kids can’t sing?

Where birds and kids can’t sing ….!

But I’m not so old and I love to skip

And when I skip I sing

I sing and cannot help it

And it feels

Like such a natural thing

                    So angel do not go away

                    But always come and sing

                   We’ll sing like we can’t help it

                   And it feels

                Like such a natural thing

                Like such –

                Like such – an angelic thing ….

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Attacks By Hooligans Against Foreign Students In Australia

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 5, 2009

In relation to attacks against foreign students in Australia, there are some tough questions. A number of reasons exist why the majority of these attacks have occurred on Indian students, and the issue is complex. The situations are not as portrayed, with a dangerous, irresponsible oversimplification, either by certain sections of the Indian media that are clearly committed to jingoism, hysteria, sensationalism and burgeoning of sales, who gravely misrepresent the view of a great many Indians who live in Australia (See e.g., statement by Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria president Vasan Srinivasan) or by an isolated but powerful and  disgraceful class of radio talk-back hosts who are biggots and their poorly-educated audiences we alarmingly still have in Australia, known as ‘shock jocks’.

No amount of misrepresentation can alter the facts that most Australians do not engage in or approve of racism. Many from some 200 countries who have migrated to this country attest to this fact. The situation is not assisted by those who, whether out of sensationalism or simple-mindedness or agendas of hatred resort to the fallacy of confusing part with whole, branding the behaviour of a few a whole group, who do not think, or feel or act out that for which they are being assailed.

However, the question of whether we in Australia are in danger of being selfish, cocooned, complacent and far too unquestioning of our ‘authorities’ and ourselves is quite another question. It was communities in the suburbs, far more than forces within governments, which won Australia’s great achievements in  forging a multicultural society. Sometimes the word ‘multiculturalism’ has been used but it can be a confusing and systematically misleading term.  The Australian experience – or experiment –  needs to be carefully distinguished from the performances of other countries, and discussed with proper regard for the facts.  One starting-point for those who wish to survey the area is the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Council, which has many resources both practical and academic. The Council’s website is HERE.

But there is a work undone: those communities especially in the outer suburbs to which many foreign students are driven by their economic constraints will have to do some of it. They will need to rise to an occasion. Or will they expect the police and other authorities to do it for them? To stand by when bones are being broken and lives destroyed does not add up to self-respect and a sense of justice within those in whose midsts violence is happening.

I offer some questions – very preliminary – that I think my fellow Australians will need to consider:

Why have not messages got through to increasingly bold urban hooligans that attacks on anyone are not to be tolerated?

Why are these uneducated hooligans being permitted to sway Australia’s standing in the fellowship of nations?

What is there about our education, justice and parental support systems that allow for the existence of hooliganism?

What, if any, community-based, imaginative, proactive steps are being taken to make foreign students, migrants and refugees to feel welcome, valued and safe in Australia?

If the police are engaged in a losing battle, as in other areas such as drugs, are the Federal, State and Local governments failing in being upfront and in ensuring the widest public awareness and debate?

Why have attacks escalated to such a point where it has taken organized protests by Indian students studying in this country – and giving up their valuable time in which to raise their voices – before there is strong action directed to remediation?

Are outer and working class suburbs embraced by the powerful ethos  in this country which has generated so many distinguished achievements in bringing about Australia’s in many ways successful multicultural society?

What, if anything, has been the responsiveness by police, the three tiers of government, welfare, civic, religious, cultural, sporting organizations, especially in the outer suburbs to the conditions in which many overseas students are economically forced to study, travel back and forth, and reside?

What, if any steps, have been taken to raise public awareness about the enormity of contribution foreign students make to Australia, both in immediate economic terms but in many, and often intangible ways, in regard to the quality of lasting ties of friendship and cooperation internationally?

What, if any steps, have been taken to raise public awareness of the difficulties many overseas students face in regard to finance, language, culture, cuisine, arduous travel times back and forth between residence and place of study, the perils of landlordism, their being forced to take part-time jobs and somehow coping with demanding courses of study, and so on?

Have the police forces examined their own assumptions? For example, how could police possibly know whether many UNreported attacks were racist or not? The notion is absurd.

Are some police authorities refusing to see that a crime can be BOTH opportunistic AND racial?

Many Indian students, supported by their government and by leaders in the Australian Indian community, attest that the police have not been – qualitatively – listening. Why are the police listening now, and why, in certain ways, too late? Young students at this very moment lie bloodied and broken.

What is the accountability of those policemen police who manhandled parts of the crowd, in attendance at what the responsible media has reported as, except for rare exceptions, a peaceful protest by thousands?

Why are the State and Federal Governments and the education institutions at which foreign students study suddenly galvanized? Why not before this?

A question for those who cry racism at every turning: Has it been noticed that extremely few along the path of the march have been reported, on any side, as having been racist or insulting in any way?

A Helpline for Indian students who are victims of crime is available: 1800342800. From 10am to 5pm, and 7pm to 11pm, Monday to Friday.  Hellplines for ALL foreign students need to be provided and made extensively-known through the student fraternity.

Further Reading

Indian Students Attacked In Melbourne Australia: Cricket Star Brett Lee Voices Concerns

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 4, 2009

Attacks Against Indian Students in Melbourne, Australia

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 2, 2009

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UPDATE

From ‘Hindustan Times’ – which shows a sanity lacking in the sensationalists sections of the Indian media

See article details at this Blog:

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