The Indian people we have encountered along this journey are some of the happiest, sweetest, nicest I’ve met in my travels, always smiling and wanting to help you. The children, especially, seem always happy—especially those I saw who were dirty, dressed in rags and living in a hovel on the street. I found the smiles of the children so incredible and touching—we all did. We couldn’t help but smile back, still wondering “what do these kids have to be so happy about?
Our guide gave us his thoughts.
“It’s the concept of karma,” he told us. “We are what we are because of our past actions. Even the children accept their lot in this life because they know that life may be different and much better their next incarnation”
Acceptance. It’s at odds with our American way, which is on the “striving to change” end of things. Or striving to HAVE, which leads to much unhappiness and even crime.
It’s also struck me more than once that we Americans are ethnocentric, and I think it’s one of our most unattractive traits. I see it based on our country’s Puritan-Christian roots, which limit our points of view and make some of us shockingly intolerant of different ways of thinking.
When I travel outside my culture, which is to say outside of America and Europe, it’s acutely clear how narrow our society is. How we think our way is the only right way and hold to that position out of some rigid sense of—name it: religious belief, patriotism, whatever.
And while you don’t have to travel to broaden your horizons, most people don’t bother to accept or even look at other points of view, content to believe that what they know is the end-all and be-all.
We all might be better off adhering to this message I saw this week at the Pushkar Camel Fair:
Sign on religious float at Pushkar Camel Fair.