Monday, March 26, 2007

I was overall discomfited by this aspiring utopia, its aura of neocolonialism and strange inhospitability

It is tempting to be skeptical of these various shrubs with their various healing properties. After all, few if any have been subjected to the rigorous system of trials that we use to create the evidence base upon which we practice medicine. And yet, i like to keep an open mind. After all, these remedies have been used for hundreds if not thousands of years. As has Ayurvedic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, Accupuncture, massage. Allopathic medicine and its pharmacopia are relatively new. The aurovillians, in particular, made sure that i understood that and they seemed to size me up with a certain suspicion. What could i, a western medical student, want to know about this stuff? Surely i wouldn't understand that herbal remedies, barks and flowers, energy and prayer could heal. Ironically, their skepticism of my open mind revealed something more about how closed their own minds seemed to be.
I was forced to defend allopathic medicine many times over the weekend to those that had great confidence in any number of alternative therapies but none in those that i will someday soon have to offer. It was as if, ironically, the type of science upon which my education is based was not welcome there, too much a part of the status quo to have any status in an alternative world. I think all this fighting about who is right and who is wrong when it comes to healing is silly and potentially harmful. It is a clash of egos that benefits least he or she who needs healing. Shouldn't we learn to cater a treatment to the individual rather than an individual to the treatment? Can't we all just get along?
I left Auroville this afternoon and returned to Vellore. I'm happy to be back. While some of the work that is taking place there is encouraging, I was overall discomfited by this aspiring utopia, its aura of neocolonialism and strange inhospitability. I am disappointed because i felt like my open mind has been stepped on - how many times have i been told not to open one's mind so much that it falls out. As I rode my bike through the dusty lanes of Auroville the afternoon, a thought recurred in my mind, a salve to my wounded idealism: It's okay to have one's head in the clouds, as long as one's feet are firmly planted on the ground and one's hands are meaningfully occupied somewhere in between. I'm looking forward to going back to work tomorrow. Hope you all had a nice monday. justin
ps. i have so many thoughts about this weekend and my short time in Auroville, i've found it difficult to focus this evening. I'll attribute it in part to long and jarring bus ride. Hell hath no fury like an Indian country road. pps. The literal definition of "utopia" is "no place." Posted by doubejsanders at 11:48 PM

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