Respect For Women, Respect for Property, Social Compassion: The Real Proof of the Pudding

There has been a lot of international notoriety about some gang rapes in India.  I don’t know how many they have had in the past, but many of the women have had it.  The attached in the Wall Street Journal, by an Indian man himself, wonders why India is so violent.  Well, there has always been a tradition in Hinduism of great extremes; from philosophical nobility to thugs [an Indian word] and widow-burning; from the expansiveness of Vedanta, which seeks to view all world religions as mere aspects of Hinduism, to the intolerance of Hindutva and of the BJP; from the hyper-non-violence of Jains and of Hindu holy men to the violence that pervades parts of Indian society.

Vishal Mangalwadi has argued that the wrapping up of young women in these cultures is not really a cultural commitment to chastity, but a defense against the lack of a cultural commitment to not only chastity but the right of women to consent.  I think he is right.  If I go into those parts of Los Angeles where wrought iron bars are on most of the windows and security guards and triple locks are everywhere, should I say to myself, “How committed are the people of this neighborhood to the sanctity of private property and the immorality of theft!”  No, I don’t think so.  If anything, the iron bars are proof that there are lots of people in the neighborhood who don’t have a high view of the sanctity of private property, at least others’ private property.

And I will go one step further.  It is often declared that certain societies like Canada and Sweden, because they have more generous welfare states than the United States, are more caring and compassionate societies. Now, I’m not in favor of a radical abolition of the welfare state, as I was in my wild youth [and I include Social Security and Medicare in ‘welfare’ here]; but I would argue that large welfare states are not a reflection of the compassion of a society, but a provision for the lack of compassion of a society.  It is a bit idealistic to think that private charity can meet all the welfare needs in most societies, but it should at least flourish alongside its public counterpart.  Because it is usually religious, it is bound to have different assumptions, and may well be more effective on some fronts, such as ‘rehab’ in particular.

Linked: “Why India is so Damn Violent” by Rupa Subramanya at

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