redcross_2From the beginning, intuition told me that the two things that would prevent us from really going all out on this trip were the risks of getting sick and the fears of losing things we valued. Over the course of the time we’ve been here, those two factors have indeed proven to be the main hindrances to engaging fully in any moment.

Our initial plan was to do an extended cleaning and all-things-service stint on the streets for a continuous 43 days. As we were both hit hard with illness, it became apparent that we wouldn’t be able to pull this off during the blazing summer months, and so we delayed it. If it weren’t for the fear of sickness, it’s likely we would be sleeping in the slums all the time, but because of this real concern, we are forced to keep a little more distance, dining at some of the safer, more expensive eateries, and even when taking extreme caution, not a day has gone by where sickness hasn’t been looming within reach.

dell700mThe other fear is of losing our stuff, and most particular, this laptop I’m typing on. Since I’ve been here, I’ve done quite a bit of work on it creating reports, building websites, modifying children’s books, designing logos, communicating through email, etc. The blog was another big reason for having it, and if it disappears, it’s likely that the blog will too, along with so many other possibilities. Though this work is valuable in its way, it does prevent me from giving it all I’ve got in other ways because I have to always keep it guarded, and because it divides my attention.

The third devil is just now beginning to reveal itself, and that is the concern over selling out. We came to Delhi to work with the Times Foundation from the Times of India. They have promised to promote our Indo-Pak campaign nationwide and their circulation is the largest of any newspaper on the planet. They have also promised to promote it in all their school papers throughout the country, as well as deliver Presidents and celebrities and you name it.

onenesscenterThe Times Foundation was started by the daughter of Indu Jain, the woman who runs the show. Her daughter died several years back and they have created a “Oneness Center” in the beautiful house where she used to live (where we are currently staying). The Oneness Center is a place where spiritual events of all types take place as well as various meetings, and is possibly the future home of the Times Foundation itself.

The Times Foundation has excellent vision, currently working on a wide scale peace campaign, also with interests in building web platforms to engage volunteers. They have been open to suggestions and we seem to be working in parallel. The issue of selling out came up when they asked us to sign a contract today basically giving ownership of our campaign to them and forever branding it with their logo.

timeslogoNeither Mark nor I care about ownership. I think it would make both of us happy to see this scale up as big as it can, because it will create more and more internal bridges of friendship in kids all across India, and their pure messages will touch more and more kids and people in Pakistan, and perhaps even the world over. The concern is not a matter of us becoming anonymous. In reality, I would probably prefer it that way, but it is a matter of the Times putting their name on it. Despite all the good qualities they possess, they are very much a corporate culture and there is a good chance the sweetness and grass-rootsiness of the vibration it currently has will be replaced with one of convention and corporate propaganda.

I don’t think this is an easy choice for either one of us. Though we can both envision it scaling up without this partnership, because of our health (I just found out I’ve been suffering from acute jaundice, resulting from viral hepatitis), and because of other factors and interests which may arise, it’s very possible that we will not hit this mark without partnering. So the question is: how bad is the sell-out?

There are so many things to do, that in many ways, it makes sense to cash in on this and continue on. Still, it’s ultimately a matter of genuineness. Any suggestions?