Opinion

Opinion: Nip In Bud Those Who Propagate Hatred In Name Of Faith

  The world is what it is’, wrote one of my favourite novelists. But of course, we shouldn’t take a work of fiction at its face value. Is the world
30 Mar 2018 13:10
Opinion: Nip In Bud Those Who Propagate Hatred In Name Of Faith

 

The world is what it is’, wrote one of my favourite novelists.

But of course, we shouldn’t take a work of fiction at its face value.

Is the world Fake News? Or as the Hindu sage perceived: it’s all Maya, illusion, and the reality is not what you see. In any case, human beings cannot bear too much reality.

It was helpful when the terrible caste system was in the making and the Dalit’s, the dispossessed and downtrodden sanctioned by scriptures and mantras, were consoled by accepting their fate for a better life in an afterlife.

But was there a life before death?

Today all over the political world the right-wing governments seem on the ascendancy, some with serious fascist agenda, rooted in religious fundamentalism and racial discrimination.

No continent or community seems immune to these viruses of human violence.

Most are brutal and brutalising forces, shaping our post-modern world, after two World Wars, imperialism, fascism and communism, nationalism, among a host of foreign and indigenous ideologies.

With blood on their hands, leaving footprints of their ugly boots on the sands of many seashores and on the faces of so many defenceless people.

Human history is painful but hope springs eternally in the human heart.

Without it, the humanity of the spirit would perish.

Our idea and belief in a superhuman reality is a reflection of this remarkable truth pulsating in our beings in the most atrocious circumstances like ships sailing in stormy seas.

That is why after the genocides, invasions, conquests, coups, colonialism, we’re today approaching almost eight billion human souls, not to mention how the climate change will affect the plants and animals, the rivers and seas, from the corals to the stars.

Famines and earthquakes, fires and floods are multiplying as are people.

The wonders of the world are slowly vanishing and our grandchildren may not even see the animals and islands we saw and touched with our hands.

Hollywood creations will not satisfy our innate imagination—God’s greatest gift to us humans.

You may find this a depressing picture but there are bubbly optimists who think we’ll survive wars, and the rumours of wars are only what you find in the New Testament or the Mahabharata, to mention two powerful narratives of the human imagination.

Bollywood, of course, excels in its creations which have little to do with the excoriating Indian realities and politics of the vast majority of India’s population.

But when a great and perpetually reformist civilisation exposes the ugly underbelly one feels a deeper sadness, not of an impending doom or an apocalypse of ‘The End is Nigh’ version.

India has been going through radical transformations of oceanic proportions.

But a special kind of ugliness seems to be part of our current world culture–racist and fascist.

It’s not confined to any one continent or religion or race.

Many in the USA are confronting that narration daily; the UK is also becoming Little England in its hasty Brexit.

China now has a Mao-like inscrutability of an unfettered personality.

But, to me, the Chinese President like Donald Trump is not as important as Ai Weiwei, the great and global Chinese artist who is shaking the world with his extraordinary film, Human Flow, just as Salman Rushdie had shaken the world with his prophetic fiction, The Satanic Verses, three decades ago.

And the school and college children on their ‘March to Save Our Lives’ tell a tale that should give hope even to the hopeless. It’s more than ‘Black Lives Matter’.

Normally I wouldn’t worry–the old Indian sage had revealed two truths to the all-conquering Alexander the Great:  ‘Sire, You’re killing people every day but YOU think you are immortal. And that ‘Even this shall pass away’.

Alexander the Great died young, in his early thirties, two millennia ago.  Greece is still struggling to find its identity.

India is important to me: I studied there when I was in my adolescent. It gave me a special kind of education among the poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich. It showed me how to cope with the great tragedy of the Partition and transcend its upheaval and build a nation from its many shattered ruins.

There was a great strength in the quality of the minds that were given the task of building a nation from the broken and bloody fragments. Europe’s civilisation had gone through a similar and devastating War.

When I arrived in Delhi as a teenager, Mahatma Gandhi had been assassinated a decade before by misguided men. It’s Easter time so we may realise its many consequences millennia hence.

Now tragically I read the other day that they want the Mahatma’s statue to be removed and his assassin’s guru’s to be installed even in the Parliament–a British inheritance.

There’s no limit to the vulgarity of the rich or the banality of the ugliness of the powerful. As the Greeks said: Those whom the God wish to destroy, they first make them mad.

It pains me to think that a segment of a movement, under the guise of world’s most hospitable religion, has taken upon itself to be the spokesperson of the perennial philosophy that has given the world some of the finest human and humane spiritual streams of thought.

This it is now being desecrated by these fundamentalists who have their tentacles in many parts of the modern world; technological inventions help them to spread their toxic messages all over the world like the extremists and fundamentalists of many faiths.

When it happens in India, the largest democracy, with 150 years of struggle for freedom, it’s a profoundly disturbing narrative.

You feel as if the great hope of a wounded but alive civilisation is fallen on its bad days and ways in the hands of its most corrupt politicians and corrupting ideologues.

Why should they be allowed to shape our children’s world with their hatred and prejudices? They are not defending anything except their prejudices and some of them are worshippers of the worst despots. They name their children and grandchildren after them.

The evils that men do live after them, at least in some names.

That it should be happening in India, the land of Rama and Krishna, Gautama and Gandhi, Guru Nanak and Kabir is, to me, a tragedy of infinite proportions.

Europe went through two World Wars to regain its sense of itself; one wonders if in India some elements think they need the Second Partition? And the hegemony of violence is the answer to their problems.

This year is the 200th anniversary of that remarkable book Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus by a 20-year-old Mary Shelley.

That work of gothic creation has been adapted in many versions: in films, cartoons, fictions and other incarnations.

It’s become the world’s most formative myth, from individuals to nuclear bombs. It’s ‘arguably the most influential book ever written as it captured the scientific revolution of the times’ and can be interpreted any way we choose.

For example, we can say the monster we created in the first Fijian coup of 1987: its message is that it devours its creator first and its grandchildren a little later.

This, of course, is what fundamentalism is all about: racial and religious, ideological and instrumental, scientific and social engineering through social media.

In 2008 I was invited to give an Annual Lecture to the Fiji Teachers Union: the president wanted me to speak on ‘The Fundamentals of Trade Unions’. I chose to speak on ‘Fundamentalism’. It’s published in my book of essays, Between the Lines, (2008).

Little had I realised then that I was talking about the darkness that was descending in The Middle East or some corner of another continent. Australasia, especially Fiji, was far away from such darkness of the Dark Ages.

But it seems the waves are touching our shores from several directions.

These need to be nipped in the bud (or butt) of these men and women who propagate hatred of any kind in the name of their faiths.

Men and women of good faith should stand against their ugly philosophy and practices.

This is Democracy’s deepest challenge. The answers are written in the Fijian Constitution. Read it, with care.

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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