Friday, December 29, 2006

Sacrificial animal avoids the murder of the other

One can always interpret the monotheisms as sacrificial archaisms, but the texts don't prove that they are such. It's said that the Psalms of the Bible are violent, but who speak up in the psalms if not the victims of the violence of the myths: "The bulls of Balaam encircle me and are about to lynch me"? The Psalms are like a magnificent lining on the outside, but when turned inside out they show a bloody skin. They are typical of the violence that weighs on humans and on the refuge that they find in their God.

Our intellectual fashions don't want to see anything but violence in these texts, but where does the danger really come from? Today, we live in a dangerous world where all the mob movements are violent. This crowd or mob was already violent in the Psalms. Likewise in the story of Job. It – the "friends" – demanded of Job to acknowledge his guilt; they put him through a real Moscow trial. His is a prophetic trial. Is it not that of Christ, adulated by the crowds, then rejected at the moment of his Passion? These narratives announce the cross, the death of the innocent victim, the victory over all the sacrificial myths of antiquity.

Is it so different in Islam? Islam has also formidable prophetic insights about the relation between the crowd, the myths, victims, and sacrifice. In the Muslim tradition, the ram Abel sacrificed is the same as the one God sent to Abraham so that he could spare his son. Because Abel sacrificed rams, he did not kill his brother. Because Cain did not sacrifice animals, he killed his brother. In other words, the sacrificial animal avoids the murder of the brother and the son. That is, it furnishes an outlet for violence. Thus Mohammed had insights which are on the plane of certain great Jewish prophets, but at the same time we find a concern for antagonism and separation from Judaism and Christianity that may negate our interpretation.

'Rain, traffic jams are hell for the children'

City News - Heard on the Street - December 28, 2006

Governor Sutiyoso recently called on the public to spend less on holiday parties and entertainment.The Jakarta Post asked some people about their plans for New Year's Eve.

Mira Damayanti Pirous, 34, is an architect who lives with her parents, husband and son in Duren Tiga, South Jakarta:

We will spend New Year's Eve at a villa in Puncak. We like to come together as a family to see in the new year, and one of my relatives offered us the use of his villa.

We usually have a barbecue. Actually, I'd like to go to Bali or Lombok, but that's a lot more expensive.

This is the first time I've ever gone to Puncak for New Year's Eve. I usually avoid going there during holidays because of the bad traffic, but it seems I've got no choice in the matter.

Other than staying in a hotel and enjoying whatever it has on offer, I think going to Puncak is the easiest way for Jakartans to celebrate.

Pantoro Try, 32, is an environmentalist who live in Mampang Prapatan, South Jakarta, with his wife and 3-year-old daughter:

For families with toddlers, like mine, its better to stay at home or get together with family than go out.

Rain and traffic jams are hell for the children and, as parents, we can't fully relax either. Staying at home is a lot more worthwhile.

--The Jakarta Post

New railroad cars offer little benefit for disabled

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Friday, Dec 29, 2006

A tryout of newly imported used railroad cars from Japan on Thursday resulted in frustration for about 200 disabled persons and their relatives.

"Four people had to help me to get into the car, so I think I am not going to use this train," said Endang Purwaningsih from Bukit Duri, South Jakarta.

"We don't want people to have to carry us onto the train every time. What we need are proper facilities so that we can help ourselves," she added.

The tryout -- a round trip from Gambir to Bogor station and back again -- was organized by the Handicapped Care Community (Kopetunda) and state railway company PT Kereta Api for disabled people from Greater Jakarta.

The company's Greater Jakarta region spokesman, Akhmad Sujadi, promised to improve the facilities for disabled people next year.

He said the government was replacing all the railroad cars in Greater Jakarta with 160 used cars from Japan. Each car costs Rp 800 million. To date, 44 coaches have arrived in Jakarta.

Of the 68 railroad stations in Jakarta, he said, only Gambir, Pasar Senen in Central Jakarta and Kota in West Jakarta were accessible to the disabled.

"We need to figure out the number of disabled who regularly use train services and then arrange facilities for them. For the time being, our officers will help disabled people anytime they need it," said Akhmad.

Meanwhile, Indrayant from Kopetunda said that the government's lack of awareness of disabled people's rights seemed to be never ending. He said he doubted the veracity of the pledge made by the railroad company to improve access for the disabled at railroad stations in Jakarta.

Even Gambir station, Indrayant pointed out, lacked minimum standards for the disabled, such as special toilets, escalators, ticket booths and special parking spaces for the disabled.

"It's not about the number of disabled that need the service, it's about their rights as human beings," said Indrayant.

Abdul Rauf, a disabled man who participated in the trial run, doubted whether the campaign would be successful.

"I have participated in campaigns like this before and nothing happened afterwards," he said.

A frequent traveler to Bandung, West Java and Surabaya, East Java, Abdul said that only the main stations in the two cities were relatively accessible to the disabled as their platforms were level with train floors.

Noted psychologist Sartono Mukadis, who is confined to a wheelchair due to illness, said that the lack of equal access to public facilities clearly demonstrated the nation's lack of empathy.

"As a nation we are so cruel to our minorities, not only the disabled but also other kinds of minorities such as ethnic and religious minorities. We say we are religious nation. But China is not a religious nation, so why are they so concerned about people with disabilities," asked Sartono.

Data from the World Health Organization shows that 10 to 12 percent of the world's population, or more than 600 million people, have some form of disability. Some 80 percent of them are living in poor countries. It is estimated that only two percent of people with disabilities enjoy adequate access to basic needs. (02)