Dienstag, 8. Januar 2008

The power of Animal's People

I have never been to Bhopal, but, let's be honest, I have used Bhopal. Bhopal's suffering is so huge and so outragous that it is self-explanatory. Whatever justice may be, what happened in Bhopal in 1984 is injustice. It is the unequivocal nature of Union Carbide's crime in 1984, that make Bhopal an example - an icon. Bhopal is the best reason there is to continue the fight I still feel most passionate about: To end corporate crimes; to deliver a decent environment for all. - I helped with Greenpeace's work on the 20th anniversary of "that night" back in 2004. More recently, I would have joined the Dow Accountability Network (Dow bought Union Carbide) if my partner had ended up moving to Washington, DC for a job. Life didn't work out that way. Professionally, I have been dealing with other things. Recently, therefore, I have not been one of those "who come to suck our stories from us, so strangers in far off countries can marvel there's so much pain in the world", as the main protagonist, Animal, puts it in Indra Sinha's powerful novel: "Animal's People". I have not been sucking, not even in the name of getting people and politicians to act against injustice. But Animal's People, which was supposed to be my relaxing holiday novel, hit me in the heart. The novel made me think about the nature of campaigning. About the way in which we campaigners use the suffering of others to call for political change. Does the end justify those means? My answer, ultimately, is yes. Injustice unspoken is even worse than tales of human suffering being used strategically to advance a (progressive) cause. But we must always beware of our true motivations; we must always reflect on our interaction with those whose suffering fuels our moral fire. 'Animal's People' made me do just that - as well as smile at the general human folly, that political struggles, too, are never immune from. The book, in fact, wonderfully relfects the diversities of stories and interests that permeate all struggles against injustice, as, indeed, any social group. For example, the book reflects how naivity often drives many who want to help "the sick" or "the poor". Animal's People shows how being principled, while being a good thing, can sometimes mean that one can become too dogmatic. Much of the book, for example, is about locals boycotting a free clinic - in the fear that the clinic is yet another hoax by "the Kampani". I identify with that cautiousness. And yet, and yet, it does turn out to be wrong (even if the doctress ain't no saint). The book shows how self-interest, desire, lust, shame, and more, all conspire to make the complicated, irrational and - ultimately - wonderful story that is human struggles; that is us. The book, in this way, shows Bhopal as human - all too human. To me, that is its true force. So: buy it - and join the fight for justice for Bhopal! Animal's People deserve nothing less.

1 Kommentar:

Anonym hat gesagt…

Hey Daniel, Martin just sent me this link - I love your writings here, they are eloquent and substance-rich at the same time. Since I am now a women's studies major, the question of appropriation of suffering for one's own purposes is one which I am often engaging with. bell hooks has written about it [I'll tell you what I think about her writings once I catch up on my readings :)]. It's not an easy thing for sure. Lately I'm guided by the ideas of Donna Haraway, who, in speaking about Feminist Standpoint Theory, and the rush to research 'marginal' women, wrote that 'there are no innocent positions' where we don't have to think about the implications of our actions. This might seem like mumbo-jumbo, but your post made me think of it.

Happy New Years to you and Kathrin
Amanda Lynn