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THE SHAPE OF EVENTS TO COME

 

                            Chapter 5

 

A Divided Mankind: Unsafe In the Atomic Age

 

(i)

The first need of our time is to recast
The current concept, borrowed from the past,
Of what should be the boundaries and the span
For all the homelands of gregarious man,
And whether nations should with hatred seethe,
With every one of them armed to the teeth,
Or they should all unite for earth to be
A haven of peace for our progeny.

There is no reason why man-made confines
Between two nations should have rigid lines,
Why mountains, rivers, deserts, ocean shores
On peoples segregation should enforce;
Why nations should erect forbidding walls
To split themselves and then resort to brawls
On narrow strips of land or right-of-way,
And keep the world in turmoil every day.

Why country, culture or a lingual bond
Or shade of color in black, brown or blond
Or mode of worship or design in dress,
Mankind should into tight compartments press,
And in her union function as a bar;
The primary cause of internecine war,
Of savage bloodshed on some flimsy ground,
Which to our heirs will idiotic sound.

When all our efforts at invention tend
The barriers of time and space to end,
To bring the people of the earth so near
That they can one another's whisper hear,
Or reach the farthest corner of the globe
In less time than it takes a beau to robe,
How can we keep our narrow lines of thought
Against this close interconnection wrought
By our own efforts and desire to span
The gulf of distance keeping man from man?

How can we still house in the narrowed space
Our former prejudice against a race,
Or nation or a foreign creed or caste,
When spatial walls are disappearing fast,
And all the broad earth has become for good
One closely linked, contiguous neighborhood?

How can our faulty notions lead to peace
That though we now converse with France and
Greece
As neighbors, or in but some hours alight,
In them from Malaya by aerial flight,
Yet in our mind their people still regard
As foreigners against them on our guard?

How can this antiquated view, a spawn
Of times when man depended on his brawn
For travel, nourishment and all his needs,
Continue still to sway his thoughts and deeds,
During an era when his lazy crawl
Has gained the swiftness of a cannonball;
When food and fabrics come from all the globe
To feed his hunger and provide his robe,
When every nation near or far away
Relates to him the gossip of the day;
When melody from every land regales
His ears, and their distress his mind assails;
When he for business and material needs
To every corner of the planet speeds;
To buy their products, crops or metal ores,
Supplied by many distant foreign shores,
To have commodities of every type,
Which are a part and parcel of our life?

How can he think in terms of nation, race,
Or color, when the whole terrestrial space
Has grown too narrow for his lightning speed,
Too scanty for his still augmenting need,
And too congested with less room to hold
The rapidly increasing human fold?

When, rather than divide the crowded earth
Into compartments, causing greater dearth
Of space, he can, as one terrestrial whole,
Control of other planets make his goal;
For which already nature must have kept
A good provision, when he grows adept
In setting his domestic problems right,
And, skilled in interplanetary flight,
Can shift to other orbs part of the race
To people new-found territory by Grace.

Before man came was not the earth supplied
With all the needs of life on which he thrived;
What wonder then if there now stands reserved
Some place where his enhanced need will be served?

Apparently the leading intellects
Of our day fail to gauge the full effects
Of new discoveries that have changed the face
Of earth, relaxed the chains of time and space,
Remolding the whole mental frame of men,
More so that of the youth who have begun
To grow rebellious to the older norms
And values-nature's signal for reforms!

But e'en the ablest statesmen fail to scan
The fire aglow now in the heart of man,
Creating in the hid depth of his mind
A sense of unity with all mankind,
A broader outlook, wider mental range,
Although himself unconscious of the change;
A keener urge to share the weal and woe
Of every nation, whether friend or foe;
An ever-growing wish to be on par
With other people, living near and far;
About whose wealth, abundance and high state
He knows as well as of his closest mate;
Proximity creating what before
Remoteness cooled, a yearning more and more
To have harmonious bonds and warmer ties
With all the people as friends and allies.

How with this growing fervor in our mind
Can we a people to one region bind,
When old ideas of a native land
Are changing rapidly towards a grand,
And more progressive concept, full of worth,
That all humanity's homeland is earth?

When intellect with her inventive zeal
Brings distant nations close, and makes them feel
That all the earth is free for them to roam,
To be their country, granary and home,
Their orchard, vegetable garden, field,
Their farm and dairy, ready with their yield,
What madness has the elders seized that they
Still act as Romans once did in their day;
And, all unconscious of the altered trends
Of thought, pursue the same out-dated ends,
Discordant with the higher stature won
By mankind through the fruitful labor done
By genius, which came in a fertile team
To make this age the first part of a dream.

Because the learned still take no account
Of this commotion in the fancy's fount;
This widening ripple on the mental pools
Not only of the wise, but also fools,
The wrong political ideas of old,
Which should have been revised, have the same hold
That they had, when a trip to Java meant
Absence of years from home for one who went.

How can progressive concepts be confined
Inside the prison of a narrow mind?
Or how can notions of the clan and tribe
The thinking of our bright age circumscribe?
And not excite derision or scorn
In people in the present milieu born,
On whom the idea of nation now holds sway,
As that of tribe on tribals did one day?

So, too, the idea of the nation born
In former times, long after the dim morn
Of history, to which we now hold fast
As something which denotes the very last
Advance in our political growth, sure
To stay unchanged, till mankind would endure,
Is but an idle dream, viewed in the light
Of what befell those who once ruled by right:
The tribal chieftain and the feudal lord,
With man's evolving stature to accord.

Can nations stay, when factors that had bred
The concept in Greek times, since long are dead;
Out-dated by our own inventive rage
Which, for a one world-state, has set the stage?
And so our Heads of State whom crowds applaud
May share the fate soon of the feudal lord.

(ii)

Can you believe mankind can long survive,
If scores of nations make a frantic drive,
As they are doing now, to equip their swarms
Of fighting troops with all the latest arms;
With nuclear weapons, in a moment's span
Which can blast countries and kill every man:
All keen to shine in glory, wealth and might,
In power and self-importance at their height,
To be acclaimed the foremost of the race
To have among them all the pride of place?

They are extolling patriotic zeal,
Like serfs and tribesmen who once thought their weal
And woe lay with the chieftain and the lord,
Praised to the sky by minstrel, clown and bard:
A function brilliant penmen still perform,
With this debasing practice to conform,
When, for some favor, they with fawning praise
A king or ruler nigh to godhood raise,
Unmindful that events are taking form,
To drown their panegyrics in the storm
Brewing now many homes to burn and scorch
To force the next step in man's upward march.

And, since to gain these ends each nation tries,
With all her skill, to throw dust in the eyes
Of watchful neighbors, and by hook or crook
To gain a place of vantage or a nook
That can help her attain a forward rank,
Or for a higher leap provide a plank,
To get the better of the rival states,
Or pick the pockets of confiding mates,
What wonder then the whole world has become
An Augean Stable, and the earth's scum
Is hired by leading countries with the aim
To keep ahead in this nefarious game?

How can our rising generations gain
In truth and virtue or grow sound and sane
In this tornado of deceit and wile,
Which does the whole of earth's crust defile,
Whereof the young imbibe a daily dose,
When shrieking headlines in the news disclose
Corruption, scandals and misdeeds of those
In whom whole nations all their trust repose?

Or, when disputing nations lay the blame
On one another for gross acts of shame;
So heinous that no murderer or thief
Has done what many a ruler, statesman, chief
Still does on the plea that the need of time
Or nation's interest called for the crime:
Engineered butcheries, uprisings, riots
And bloody coups, acclaimed as brave exploits,
Of those who pose as models for the rest,
And are, by vote, ranked as a nation's crest.

Observe now what conflicting forces act
On human minds to scatter and distract,
To pour into the psychological pool
Of man a tincture at once warm and cool,
To make his life a contradiction torn
Between the need of times and creeds outworn.

We see what our advancing intellect
Has since created, as the architect
Of our terrestrial life, to fill our hands
With choicest things and gifts from all the lands;
To lay, whene'er required, beneath our feet
The magic carpet by which we can meet,
And talk to all the people on the earth
To take part in their daily grief and mirth.

But still the elders of a State demand
All one's devotion for his native land,
Which makes him blind to what a child can see
That he belongs to all humanity;
That he is free now of the chains that bound
His mind and body to the soil around;
And has attained a global stature which,
To grow, an earth-wide culture must enrich.

Today few are the nations that can trace
Their pedigree to but one stock or race,
To but one blood, descent or but one brood,
To have the pride of flawless nationhood.
Full many factors, nigh in every clime,
Acting diversely through colossal time,
Upheavals, cataclysms, famine, dearth,
Compelled uprooted crowds to roam the earth;
To flee the threat of shortage, foes or drought,
Creating with the intermixture wrought
New groups, new people, nations, tribes and clans
Whose past the anthropologist now scans.

And e'en today, despite the rigid ties
That ban admixture, many a pair defies
Conventional bonds to marry out of caste
Or creed, which conservatives watch aghast,
Resulting in crossbreeding and fresh broods
To meet mysterious nature's changing moods.
Besides this, exodus, migration, war
And other causes that draw people far
To settle in another land or clime,
By intermarriages, in course of time,
May slowly with new ethnic types dilute
The present nations nature's aim to suit.

Viewed in this light what factor still remains
To forge the inelastic mental chains
That keep and have in isolation kept
The people of a country often swept
By fierce, successive waves of foreign hosts
That mated with the natives of the coasts,
Or drove them out in turn to fall a prey
To stronger hordes which with them chose to stay;
And then a natural boundary, common creed,
Language or culture made this mongrel breed
A nation, which the lust for power and rage
Of gain has made an Idol in this age.

The modern nation is a passing phase
In man's yet vaguely grasped instinctive chase
After perennial peace, both in and out,
For which the basic need, without a doubt,
Is the formation of a global state
Entirely free of rivalry and hate;
To mark the consummation of a trend
Which started with Man's first attempt to blend
And mix with other people, groups and tribes:
One of the methods wisdom still prescribes
For peace, abiding happiness and good
Of mankind in one Earth-wide Brotherhood.

(iii)

The modern intellect has been at fault
In bringing mankind to a longer halt
So obstinately at the national bound,
As if it is the last solution found,
Refusing stubbornly to step beyond
The hackneyed orders of which they are fond.

Most of our leading spirits know it well
That war between two nuclear powers would spell
The end of progress and a fiery hell
Would fiercely rage around us all to dwell
For decades, in which awfully mangled, maimed
And mutilated wrecks who once were famed
For beauty, wealth or wit would fill the earth.
But few, indeed, condemn this hopeless dearth
Of deeper insight in those who command
Leading positions of trust in their land.

They are few, as there is a cause behind
The present faulty thinking of mankind;
A kink born of agnostic intellect,
Which holds that man is the sole architect
Of his political and social creeds,
And not that an unseen intelligence leads
The race by steps towards a lofty height,
While blind to it we on mere trifles fight,
And cut each other's throats, fooled by the twist
In thought, that our creations can persist
Against the plan of nature, and this kink
Is more pronounced in the way skeptics think.

Do not today full many nations hold
Diversity of culture in their fold,
Of language, faith, attire and ethnic brands,
That dwell in naturally divided lands?
But still political exigence calls
The lot a nation till the structure falls
Apart, when a war or disruptive trend
This weak admixture does to pieces rend.
The national concept-an exploded myth,
A genealogical tree that has no pith-
Is but a shibboleth of ruling teams
To please the masses with Utopian dreams
Of world supremacy and boundless power,
A most pernicious doctrine at this hour.
Swept off by man-engineered popular tides
On which, for some time, every nation rides,
The wiser heads too, though averse, are loath
To go against the elite and commons both,
And yield to what they would denounce, if free
To choose, as nothing short of lunacy.
But when the destined moment comes to pass,
And war hysteria grips the nation's mass,
The more discerning too are equally hit,
Though knowing the futility of it.
When man's organic frame is strictly bound
By laws that act to keep it safe and sound,
And in distempers, with amazing knack,
Contrive to bring it to its vigor back,
Anent the racial frame can we suppose
That for the whole of mankind nature chose
A loose, capricious course and left the fold
Entirely free its destiny to mold;
And has not bound it with a hid device,
Akin to those which guide the ants and mice,
In the collective frame to be a check
Against propensities the race can wreck.
It must be that the same organic laws
Which make us ill or crazy, also cause
Upheavals, revolutions, riots and wars,
When people pass beyond the safety bars
Towards a way of life disastrous for
The health and welfare of the species or
Discordant with a future aim in view,
And at a crucial time cause in a few
The frenzy and the ferment that soon leads
To dread uprisings and atrocious deeds.

The leader whose fire and infectious zeal,
Resource, flint-heartedness and will of steel,
Master-minds every popular rising aimed
To change political setups earlier framed,
Is not a product of chance but design,
Sent by the racial mind to undermine
Outmoded orders that need instant change
To suit man's e'er extending mental range,
Which vested interests, parochial aims
And conservatism, under various names,
Wish to perpetuate, holding to them fast,
And ne'er allow by choice to be recast,
Until designedly fashioned rebel brains,
Disrupt the order and untie the chains.

Can you explain why turmoil and unrest,
Despite the fact that man now amply blest,
Has all that can make earth a paradise,
Instead of calming down yet higher rise?

They pose a ticklish problem for the shrewd,
If calmly in the right perspective viewed.
For every step to improve and mend the plight
Of people for a smooth and rapid flight
To realms of joy and luxury provokes
The spiteful witch of envy, whose hand stokes
The fire of hatred to such high degree
It threatens to consume humanity?

The richer states, e'en when they freely spend
Out of their coffers with the aim to mend
The sad condition of penurious lands,
Soon find that they had only built on sands,
For not unoft the folk they helped to rise
By their behavior shortly make them wise
That their hearts more with fires of envy glow
Than warmth for the gratitude they owe.

This is because the instinctive urge in man
Is for an equal portion no less than
That of his neighbors, and impelled by greed
He tries his best to make his share exceed
That of the rest, the basic fault which keeps
Mankind in trouble and misfortunes heaps.

The learned of our age are much perplexed
By what is happening now and rightly vexed
At this strange outcome of a grandiose plan,
And unexpected vagaries of man,
Who has a hunger which the more you feed
The more insatiable it grows, indeed.

They are not wise to what they should have known
That nature has antagonistic grown,
That, like a sunspot, on the flaming plane
Of Cosmic Consciousness, which feeds the brain,
A fearsome vortex, signifying wrath,
Proclaims man's wild departure from the path.

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Written by: Gopi Krishna


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