Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I find Auroville to be a respectful and respectable, beautifully stimulating place. It is a rare social, spiritual, economic and ecological utopia

Home > Response to BBC broadcast - Laurent Sauerwein
Former senior reporter on French national public television ( France 2)
To the Editors of BBC Two's Newsnight, concerning Rachel Wright's accusations against Auroville.
May 28 th 2008, Paris

As a former senior reporter on French national public television ( France 2) and recent visitor to Auroville, I am writing to you to protest against the bias, manipulations and innuendoes contained in Rachel Wright's "report". I hesitate to use the term "report", as her sweeping accusations of paedophilia and other allegations constitute, I am sorry to say, a distasteful piece of sensationalist journalism unworthy of the BBC.

I am not a member of Auroville, but have just spent two sabbatical months there, as a paying guest, enough time to be more than a fleeting tourist. I have met many people, residents and villagers, often more than superficially. From the innumerable conversations I have had in the community and around it, with real people, not anonymous silhouettes on a screen, but face to face, eye to eye, I find Auroville to be a respectful and respectable, beautifully stimulating place. It is a rare social, spiritual, economic and ecological utopia, an open community composed of real people. It is composed of approximately 800 Indian members (by far the largest group, something which Ms. Wright carefully obliterates) and 1200 other men, women and children coming from over 40 countries of this problematic planet.

I went to Auroville with an open mind and a genuine curiosity. Coming from a very different cultural background, I was not particularly predisposed to its spiritual dimension, and I, still now, probably remain more sensitive to the human, social and ecological adventure which Auroville represents in my eyes. But I have also discovered that there is absolutely nothing coercive about Auroville's spirituality, and I recognize that the writings of Sri Aurobindo and of his spiritual collaborator known as The Mother compose an important founding element for the community. The yoga and meditation that some choose to engage in, strike me as activities more respectable than financial speculation or making war. Auroville's contribution to the development of the region and its concrete action in the surrounding villages can't easily be dismissed. Ms. Wright mentions them in passing, but only to smother it under an avalanche of dubious accusations, made by people whose motivations and credibility are less than clear.

Auroville has problems of course, economic, social and cultural, but the community does seem keen on confronting them. It does so, with lucidity and frankness, both in private and public, on its various websites, on the webcast Auroville radio and in print publications. As opposed to what is stated in the broadcast, Auroville is not without rules, and it goes about managing its internal problems firmly and in a human manner. Auroville is neither a sect nor a religious order. It is a community of humans and it has principles. They are open to debate, but debate is alas not what Ms. Wright had in mind.

It is particularly shocking to see how Ms. Wright extracts a perfectly reasonable sentence from the interview of a known member of the community in order to mobilize it as an element toward the fabrication of her pamphlet: “For an ideal society, you have to have ideal people, and we don't have ideal people,” candidly says the interviewee, without suspecting what would be contrived around his innocent remark. The quote, taken out of context, was of course part of broader considerations on the general welfare and evolution of Auroville. Ms. Wright turned it around to make it fit her dubious agenda.

The rest of her "report" unravels like a text-book model of carefully crafted manipulation and abuse, complete with unsubstantiated assertions, loaded generalisations and disturbing innuendoes. Far from representing the "full investigation" that you claim on your website, the result is unethical and intellectually unacceptable.

Auroville deserves better than this brutal, libelous hatchet job.

Sincerely yours,
Laurent Sauerwein,
Paris France
See also: Dr. Karan Singh Working Committee Detailed information
Home > Response to BBC broadcast - Laurent Sauerwein

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