The Subject of Justified Concern...
Posted May 30, 2005
Malati Prabhu seems very concerned about the "inaccuracies" in the report on child abuse in New Vrindavan. What those inaccuracies are, it seems neither the author nor the rest of us mothers deserve to know. They are not explained, just warned about.
Of course, if we were to take Malati Prabhu's warning seriously, we should stop reporting altogether, for human error is ever a problem. Indeed, speaking truth or explaining facts as they are (one of the 26 qualities of a devotee we should cultivate) is always limited by the extent of one's knowledge and understanding. This limitation is forgiven in honest circles or those who appreciate essential truth spoken for the welfare of all. Clearly, this very concerned mother has this as her motive and is to the best of her knowledge reporting on that which she feels is essential to be known.
Besides, Malati's own admission of Sacinandana's guilt and the recent occurrence of abuse at this location supports the author's basic point of concern. All else- that part warned about- Malati is covering up. Why, one wonders? What is the point in warning about something unknown and therefore unavoidable? Is it to instill fear and thus silence potential whistle blowers? President Bush adopted a similar dishonest tactic in his reasons for going to war in Iraq- warning about looming terrorist attacks, the details of which he "could not give" to his panicking flock. Fear of the unknown is one of the greatest fears, for the unseen enemy is something we have nightmares about. It should not be exploited by our leaders. We have as our role model, not Bush but Kapiladeva who saw as his duty to give fearlessness, not its opposite.
The nightmare of child abuse is bad enough for any mother. She deserves not just promises of "I will do all in my power" from people who have failed her and betrayed her trust before. She and her children deserve sincere apologies, profound empathy, patience and understanding and financial support for counselling. They need to be reassured, not threatened or silenced, when they see or hear of the same nightmare occurring again. That reassurance is through knowledge- not cover up- knowledge that here is what is fact and here is what is fiction, here is how we are dealing with the facts and here is a person you can write to if you feel dissatisfied with the action taken, for we are open to your suggestions as to how we can deal with the situation better. Such would be a response respectful of the need to be informed, valued, reassured and peaceful.
Inaccuracies are not the issue here, however, but rather image, for the report makes the GBC look incompetent. When however the inaccuracies make them look glorious, there is no complaint. When the inaccuracies in the BTG's reports made the gurukulas look like Vaikunthalokas, there was no objection- they passed the test. Thus, inaccuracies are of two kinds- they can be the human result of an honest attempt at speaking truth, or they can be the result of a motive to delude and cover up so as to self glorify and appear infallible. The former is easily fogiven, the latter is not. The cost is too high- continuing corruption in our society and abuse of its most vulnerable members.
Certainly Srila Prabhupada wouldn't settle for that either...