Thought for the Day
13th November 1997
Good morning. Girl Power takes on new meaning tomorrow with the release of the latest action movie starring Demi Moore as G I Jane. In this role, Ms Moore succeeds in her quest to become one of the US Navy’s crack squad, the Navy Seals. Already the film has aroused debate over its portrayal of a woman competing to enter a hitherto macho domain. Is it a victory for equal opportunity and female musculinity or a further victimisation of brutalised women?
The Hindu religion asserts that each of us has the responsibility to find our dharma - that is to recognise our particular attributes and to nurture them to serve society. So, I would support the principle that everyone is able to exercise the widest choice in career and occupation.
I suppose that must include the option of engaging in front-line combat should that suit someone’s nature. Historically, there have been women who truly fitted the warrior role. And, perhaps, the recent controversial adverts for cars and jeans foretell the return of the Amazon.
Now, I would wish that no one should ever have to go to war again. But, I know that force is sometimes the unfortunate, yet inevitable, measure to protect the innocent against evil. It has been said that we all sleep better knowing that someone is ready to use violence for our sake.
I am, therefore, grateful to those men and women who commit themselves to the police and security forces. Hinduism sees them as the arms protecting the social body. But, I also feel women have the potential to be a different source of protection.
As a Vaishnava Hindu, I believe in the vision of God, not as a singular male figure, but as the union of the female and male personalities, Radha and Krishna. We say “Radha-Krishna”. Radha, the female aspect of God’s personality, comes first, because She is the source of compassion, kindness and mercy. We approach Her to re-establish our loving relationship with the Supreme.
Vaishnavas believe that both men and women are created in the image of God. Not all women are sugar and spice, but they are more likely to be blessed with the feminine characteristics of Radha. And it is Her attributes of compassion and mercy which count more than weapons or brawn in making the world a safer and more peaceful place. I applaud Demi Moore or any woman with the guts and determination to go the military course. But, I would also wish that women celebrate the power of the femininity of Radha, which is so much needed to counter-balance the ego-driven belligerence that infects the planet.
© BBC This script was commissioned by the BBC for broadcast as “Thought for the Day” on the Today programme Radio 4.