Hello friends and family,
Well, here we are, settling into a new life in India. Yesterday marks one full week, during which time we’ve traveled from Hyderabad to Vijayawada and are now settling in at the Living Vikasa Vidya Vanam school.
Of course, we can’t talk about our travels without acknowledging the US elections. We are all sorry that we are not back home marching in the streets with all of you to protest the profoundly undemocratic ascendancy of a racist, sexist, fascist who publicly admired Mussolini and has no regard for rights, freedom or common decency. It is our democratic duty as people of conscience to resist.
Not surprisingly, most of the people we know here are also shocked and frustrated, but I must also acknowledge that there is a strong fascist tendency among many Indian Hindus of the middle and upper castes and who supported Trump back in the US and here in India. Some are in my family (thankfully, not my parents). After all, India elected it’s own Trump, by the name of Modi.
I have already seen and read progressive and left statements about how Trump will “take away rights,” so I wanted to quickly give a short Movement Generation style take on this question.
Rights are not given and right can not be taken away. Rights are inherent and can only be violated. And that is meaning of violence. I think it is important that we do not forget this point and that we are clear – what Trump may do (and embolden others to do) is exercise greater and greater violence in the violation of our rights – which we will and must, without fear or hesitation, continue to assert and exercise. We have the right to land, so we must take it, now more than ever. We have the right to move freely and we will exercise that right and we will defend that right and we will resist and combat the violence deployed against us, because that it what it will take to get free. We have the right to define our economies and govern our communities – and it is in exercising this fundamental right that we become ungovernable through our own loving, democratic and liberatory self-governance.
Back to India.
The Living VVV school is a wonderful learning community outside of Vijayawada on nearly 80 acres of farmland. The students, (7-10th grades)the teachers and staff (with their families) all live in the intentional community. They share responsibilities for maintaining the gardens, which provide nearly 1/2 of all their food, and all the facilities. This means that everyone washes clothes, cooks, cleans the rooms and facilities (including toilets) equally. The school emphasizes the dignity and importance of all work – that no work and no people are more valuable than others. If you know anything about India, and in particular the Hindu caste system, you know that this is a very important intervention among young people.
There is also a small community school for the younger children who live here. There are little kids that run freely around the school and sit in sessions with the older kids, and there are infants that are passed around among adults and kids.
Ila and Kavi are settling in. Kavi is being homeschooled by Martha in the mornings, since the community school is in Telugu. He’s trying to pick up some sentences here and there, but it has only been a week.
Ila is trying on attending classes with the 7th graders. This is only day 2, so we’ll see how she likes it. She is being really open to trying it out and is working through the challenges.
Here are some images from our first week!
Ila and Kavi doing “clay crafts” on Friday. In addition to the spinning, they made clay animals (giraffes, alligators, rabbits)
And our morning gardening. Kavi picking bachch leaf for making lunch. Not sure what this leafy green is called in English, if there is a word for it, but it is good. We use it like spinach. Full of iron.