Outcast

During our wandering last night Jenni attracted the attentions of a little girl who gifted her with a garland of flowers. When she attempted to give her a few rupees for food the girl said the money wouldn’t do her any good.

She was too young to explain herself, but as we walked with her to the store, one of her friends joined us and explained that because they are outcasts, no one will take any money that they touch.

It amazes me that in this country which is so revered for it’s recognition of spitiruality that such a deeply ingrained injustice has survived for so long.

While Jenni was in the process of understanding how much the shopkeeper wanted, the little girl absconded with the bag of rice. Certainly less that ideal, but I have a hard time getting too upset about eight year-olds stealing basic foodstuffs.

I’ve been thinking about Nancy Kress’s Beggars In Spain. The internet is way too slow for me to pull a quote, but the title refers to the problem of a good natured traveler wandering the streets of Spain.

A beggar comes up and wants some money for food, so he gives them some. Then there’s another and then another, until eventually the traveler is left a beggar himself. The story puts the question as an unanswerable one.

Which I am realizing is completely foolish. There are lots of affluent stores here complete with all the frivolous luxury we have in the West. The resources are available, and the irony is that the broken resource distribution systems that create the inequality ultimately perpetuate the instability that leaves everyone without security.

I’m not outraged at the injustice so much as I am baffled by the stupidity. The whole system is connected and few people seem to get that.

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