Caution: Long and extremely opinionated post.
I am an optimist and have always been one and not just because I have lived in the USA for most the past decad (I have noticed that most of the imports from the third world nations to the USA are infected by hopeless optimism after spending a couple of years in this land of the “Free”). Even in situations as grim and hopeless as they can get, a tiny flickering flame of hope kept burning and pulled me out of most situations. OK, before you start thinking that I have had a horrible life full of miserable situations (the kinds you see the protagonist of the 80’s alternate wave of Indian cinema), let me tell it straight – I have had quite an uneventful life: my parents have raised me with care and have provided me well, have a loving and beautiful spouse, I did fairly well in my studies and secured better and better jobs at regular intervals, I own two properties on this planet, blessed with good health and enough wealth to live a comfortable life and have plenty of good friends strewn across the globe. So what then you say this post is all about? What is it that I want all of us to “start over”?
Let me go back in time. Summer 1993, I am in my first year of engineering and my first year of living outside of the protective enclave of my parents’ house. It’s a time when I am quite nervous of being so far away from home, excited about the new found freedom and scared witless of the ongoing hazing (ragging). One such evening I was hanging out with SI and CK who lived in the hostel room right opposite that of mine. We got to talking about – what else – the most important topic a couple of 19 year olds talk about – the future of Our World. The discussion was where the world is heading in the next 20 years – destruction or peace. Even though I was slapped about a 30 times just an hour ago at a hazing session and my cheeks were burning as if I had live ambers placed in my mouth, I had not had a decent home-made meal in about 20 days, did not know if I am cut out for Engineering, had no idea where my life was heading – the eternal optimist in me did not hesitate or even blink once to say “Duh! PEACE, of course”. SI and CK smirked at me and said in unison – “Destruction, of course”. Well, how does one settle such a matter of supreme discord between friends? How else, but with a wager! We decided to meet after 20 years in the summer of 2013 to see who is more right. (Yeah! that’s how corny and silly youth is, but I yearn for that corniness, silliness and the arrogant ignorance of that age now – fodder for another post).
Here’s a glimpse of the state of the World in 1993:
– The first Gulf war had ended
– India and Pak were fighting in their own ways over Kashmir
– Bombay had witnessed serial bomb blasts in March 1993
– Israel and Palestine were as always were at loggerheads
– The Soviet Union had collapsed giving birth to many small nations
– The USA was bombing Eastern European nations (The Bosnian conflict)
– North Korea was, well – North Korea
– The Rwanda situation was brewing slowly
– Afghanistan was looking forward to elections in 1994
– Terrorism was not a global phenomenon
– Global warming was an elitist term and was sneered upon
The situation was overall grim. My take was, well it can only get better, right? WRONG. It’s the summer of 2008 and this is how the world looks today:
– The second Iraq war has claimed thousands of soldier’s and civilians and there is no end in sight
– Afghanistan is a nation that has been gangraped by the world and continues heading towards more despair (if that’s at all possible)
– India and Pak have fought one small war in Kargil over Kashmir and the issue is still simmering with both nations coming oh so close to a nuclear fallout
– Bombay witnessed three more serial bomb blasts, many other Indian cities were bombed (Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur)
– Israel and Palestine continue to fight and again no end in sight,
– Israel & Lebanon have exchanged some fireworks
– North Korea: status quo (they claim they will declare their nuclear capabilities)
– The world meekly watched one of the largest genocides since the Holocaust in Rwanda
– Terrorism is now a global phenomenon: USA, Bali, Spain, London – countries and places where terrorism was only a foreign phenomenon has experienced their share of terrorist activities. Newer avenues of bio-terrorism are being used and explored
– Global warming is NOW and HERE
These are only a few examples, I am not even getting into the counts of nuclear war-heads, the other atrocities and wars perpetrated (and continue to) by the ex-Soviet nations and China (do not mean to single only these two nations out, there are many more, these two are just convenient). There is no point mentioning the natural calamities (earthquakes, tsumanis, volcanoes, tornadoes, hurricanes) since they are not in our control to a large extent (I am not getting into the debate of if Global Warming is causing a marked increase in the number of floods, famines, food shortages, etc.)
Now, if this was your dear son’s or daughter’s report card, what is the inference you would derive? You would not be sleeping a sound sleep anytime soon, knowing what you know and where your son/daughter is heading to – Failure. The world as we know today, my dear friends is also heading towards that inevitable DISASTER and it is getting there with reckless speed. You see, there is a reason I have become a pessimist in this matter. I understand that I should be looking at the efforts that are being made towards peace and such, but honestly, just based on numbers and statistics – no emotions and no subjective analysis – what would any educated person conclude? The efforts towards healing this world of ours are not nearly even close to the colossal magnitude of destruction that’s happening every minute.
I guess it’s nature’s way of telling us that we have crossed the peak in it’s cycle of creation and nearing the bottom of the arc. We have lived here long enough, long enough to have devoured every single available resource, long enough to have loved and hated each other enough, long enough to have not learnt from history and the natural cycle of creation and destruction. Its time, we will have to start over.
What then, you ask is my solution? I have none. Before you rule me out as a non-believer, a cynic and an eternal pessimist, let me stop you right there. I am an optimist when it comes to human beings and humanity and individual achievements, I just don’t trust Governments anymore. These Governments in the name of protecting the interests of its people, empower themselves and create this pseudo atmosphere of a free world while keeping its peoples even more oppressed and under the control of it’s iron fist (a not so obvious version of Big Brother from 1984?). It does not matter who makes up these Governments – Right wing or Left, Republicans or Democrats, Congress or BJP, Labor or Conservatives or Communists – they are all the same. Most of these Governments do not even acknowledge that there is a problem in the way the world functions today. The Governments of the under-developed world do not know anything about governing and hence start pillaging it’s people, the Governments of the developing world want to maintain the “developing” tag to keep filling it’s coffers with more aid money and last but not the least – the Government’s of the developed world want to keep the rest of the world from joining them. Do I need to explain why?
SI & CK – you win and I loose. Hunh! To think about it, is anyone really winning here?