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THE SHAPE OF EVENTS TO COME

(iv)

From ancient records which the earth has kept
Or which the wit and skill of man has left,
Like pyramids of Egypt which now stand
To tell the story of the hoary land,
It is apparent that time after time
Some people of the earth attained a prime,
When with heroic battles they subdued
Their neighbors, not yet with this fire imbued,
And spread their conquest far to distant lands,
To hold colossal empires in their hands.

Our previous history, we cannot fail
To notice, always tells the same old tale;
The same old cycle of unceasing fight
And battle for one with superior might
To annex the conquered regions and enslave
The vanquished nations who, perhaps, as brave,
But, poor in organizing, arms or skill,
Were forced to be submissive to their will.

In many once victorious, wealthy lands,
Now partially engulfed by spreading sands,
The hand of destiny has kept the marks,
Of royal towns and magnificent parks,
Of piles of scattered ruins which bespeak
Wealth, luxury and grandeur at their peak,
On which morosely shines the pallid moon,
Aware how human greatness ends too soon,
That earthly splendor is an empty show-
A meteor's waxing and then waning glow-
Of which the strings are pulled by a mighty Force
That keeps evolving mankind on its course.

Imperial power, high rank and wealth are baits
Which nature uses to tempt both men and states
To strive for higher and still higher peaks,
As once did Romans and before them Greeks,
To gain more power, more treasures and more fame,
Extorted from the gentle, weak and tame,
All this to have more leisure and more time
For what? To meet the ends of quest sublime,
One must pursue with zeal in youth or prime,
To make use of the preparatory stage,
One needs to bloom into a Cosmic Sage.
But oft the leisured folk soon make the means,
Designed to reach a grand end from their teens,
The end itself, and in indulgence drown
Their prime, alas! to lose a glorious crown,
To barter for the pleasure of a day
Eternal blessedness and perennial sway.
Hence nature using time's relentless hand
Too soon destroys the glory of a land,
When those who let their rise to power and wealth
Corrupt their morals and impair their health,
The pillars on which evolution rests
Wherefore their soundness nature keenly tests,
Before admitting to the Holy Shrine
Mortals, on pilgrimage to Life Divine.
Imperial nations and great kings arose
And at the zenith of their glory froze,
As if Fate takes a diabolic joy
In granting greatness only to destroy,
Driving ascendant realms towards decline
When in full glory they begin to shine.
The mammoth edifices the Pharaohs built,
As if ordained by Fate to voice their guilt,
Consumed resources and manpower which bore
Exhausted Egypt down the slippery shore.
The conquests of Napoleon soon bled white
A mighty land, fore'er to lose that height
And victories of Alexander cost
The Greeks their greatness which they shortly lost.
A standing warning to the modern great,
Who fondly think they can escape this fate,
In dark about the Eternal Cosmic Law
Which acts on mortals, as wind does on straw,
And of which scholars, to the grief of man,
Have no awareness nor are prepared to scan.
But which relentlessly will deal again
The same chastisement to the great who, vain
And power-drunk, with imprudent thought and deed
The pace of man's progressive rise impede.

The empires built, while trodden millions wept,
Soon with cyclonic fury off were swept.
Whichever nation domination sought,
Or tooth and nail for vast dominion fought,
Exhausted swiftly by the enormous strain,
And soon depleted by the excessive drain
On manhood and resources fell at last,
To serve as warning lessons from the past
To modern nations which commit again
The same mistake and strive for world domain.

Has not our age, too, witnessed this display
Of lust for power which ended the same way:
Ambitious Hitler's rise to power amidst
The scenes of horror of his iron fist;
And proud Napoleon's dream of world domain,
Built on vast piles of wounded and the slain,
Dreams and ambitions of abnormal minds
Endued with genius of aberrant kinds,
Which, skilled in setting human hearts on fire,
With glowing promises of fulfilled desire,
Of national vanity and cultural pride-
Igniting sparks so easily applied-
And, building strongholds on warm human hearts,
In bloody dramas play conspicuous parts,
To leave soon prostrate, like a fallen tree,
The crowds fooled by their skill in oratory?

                    Chapter6

Why Another World War Is Inevitable

 

(i)

What is the answer to the riddle posed
By our behavior, which is all opposed
To the primordial instinct, rooted deep
In mortals their lives safe from death to keep?

What is the reason for the glaring fact
That threats of nuclear war do not distract
Our minds to that extent as they should do
To worry us and drive to action too?
If our reaction to the menace were
As healthy as it should be, when in fear,
With life on one, death on the other side,
All normal men with lightning speed decide:
How they should act, which way their safety lies
For every animal at danger shies.

Viewed in the right perspective one would think
That people should react with fear and shrink
From e'en the thought of nuclear wars, so grave
It should produce a strong reflex to save
Their life and all, before it comes to pass,
Resulting in destruction of the mass
Of mankind or, at least, those threatened most
Who would, no doubt, make up a mammoth host
Of millions slain and millions in a state
Of torment only Death can palliate.

Bearing in mind that now on several shores
There are concealed or open massive stores
Of nuclear missiles of the latest type,
Ready for use whenever the time is ripe,
Put this one simple question to yourself:
Will all these toys remain locked in a shelf
For ages, and their owners all refrain
From making use of this destructive bane,
And under every provocation hold
To this decision till we all grow old,
And death will spare us the dread scenes we fear
When one day missiles earth will rend and tear?

If you are optimistic, pray excuse
My lapse, if bluntly I contest your views,
If I attempt to show that you are wrong
So much so, that I have no words too strong
To castigate this kind of mental rust;
This intellectual block which takes on trust
Matters of vital import for us all;
Whether the human race shall rise or fall,
Or whether our own world shall stay the same
Or turn into a hell of raging flame.

What are the grounds for your complacent stand,
Trusting that things will not go out of hand,
That all these deadly engines will remain
Unused, and that no unexpected chain
Of chance events will e'er occur to explode
The now precarious state of peace, and goad
Some country, when beyond endurance hit,
To throw all caution to the winds and slit
The slender thread of prudence to unbar
The floodgates of a world-wide nuclear war?

Do you suppose the elite who hold the rein
Of power in your country will e'en remain
(Knowing what devastation can occur,
If they are lax in care or slightly err)
Unmoved, and that no insult, threat or loss
From any side would e'er push them across
The bound of prudence to a state of ire,
Where blind to all the consequences dire,
They rashly use a weapon that would mean
The grim beginning of a Doomsday scene?

If so, you show a woeful ignorance
Of human nature and the role which chance
Can act in forcing men to change their mind,
As happened in the decades left behind,
When chance occurrences, like evil stars,
Drew nations helplessly to bloody wars.

Again what of the many foreign lands
That have the awful weapon in their hands?
Do you suppose that your superior arms,
Or much more larger stock will act like charms
To cow them to inaction or deter?
If so, you still miscalculate and err,
And are committing such a grave mistake
That might cost you your life ere you awake.

You have no knowledge, save from outer signs,
Of their ulterior motives and designs,
And if you measure them with your own yard
That means you previous lessons disregard,
And let yourself be cheated and deceived
By false exteriors to be sorely grieved;
Expose to danger all you value best,
Your life, possessions, household and the rest,
And offer what you love with all your heart
To demolition by the nuclear dart.


(ii)

The view that states will not resort to war
Until in nuclear arms they are on par
Is as fallacious as it is inane,
And everybody wide awake and sane
Can see, and ought to know, that lust for power
Waits not for parity nor mature hour,
But smites when least foreseen and in advance,
The moment it believes there is a chance
To bring a rival down or but to cow
Into submission with a timely blow;
Nor vengeance cares to hold her hand for long
In weighing whether she is weak or strong,
But unexpectedly, more in the rear
Than front, she strikes hard when the foe is near.

Neither your state nor other powers will wait
Your pleasure nor respond to any bait,
Nor stick to any principle nor code
Of law, when mounting pressures spur and goad
Them on to rash decisions and, at once,
The sky may blaze with bursting megatons.
When bent on it no argument at all,
No treaty, agreement or moral wall
Will stop this mad decision any day
To send the fatal weapon on its way.

If still you harbor e'en the slightest doubt
That in the next decisive global bout
The missile will not figure from the start,
Or at the end, to act a ghastly part,
It shows you have not learnt from history,
Or it has clean escaped your memory
That, e'en if they wish it, top statesmen are
Themselves incapable, in peace or war,
Of changing world conditions, at their will,
Whatever be their stature, power or skill;
And all at once on some unlucky day
A single incident may pave the way
Towards a sudden crisis, past their skill;
And nuclear war erupt against their will.

In case you still in them repose some trust
That they can hold firm in a sudden gust
Of adverse wind, when accidents upset
The flimsy balance of peace, you forget
That, clutching with both hands their shaky throne,
Against the oppositions, they are prone
To overact their part to meet the attack
From any hostile country, for if slack
They hear their opponent's derisive cry
That they retreated since they feared to die.

So if we think our clever ruling teams
Can, in the nick of time, hold falling beams,
And keep the roof from crashing on our head,
Then both to sense and prudence we are dead.

Whate'er our diplomats contend or say,
Whatever tricks the foreign statesmen play,
Do not forget that this infernal stock,
This lightning poised above the human flock,
Will not, unto the last, keep circling round,
Just looking for a vacant bit of ground,
Where it can strike without inflicting hurt,
Nor will the owners always stay alert
To keep the Dragon sleeping which but one
Out of ten million men, each with a gun,
Can with a single random shot awake,
And then with its attacks the planet shake.

How long can nations, all armed to the teeth,
Avoid the deadly mine laid underneath,
Avert but one collision that can fire
The dread thing, blowing up the host entire?

How long can statesmen with evasive talk,
The crouching monster of its blind prey balk?
How long can narrow margins and escapes
Avoid the Mouth of Death which widely gapes,
So strong and huge it can in one bite eat
A million living creatures, bone and meat?

We but deceive ourselves or are unwise,
Or still live in a fool's mock paradise,
If, after witnessing the striking change
In war technology and the long range
Of missiles, we ignore these vital facts;
And all surrounded by infernal tracts,
Full many scores in number, which now form
The launching sites for this destructive storm,
We still believe that they will always lie
Intact, and armies battle, kill and die
With normal weapons, and that no reverse
Nor accident nor any mind perverse,
Amongst the warring nations, will ignite,
To wrap the earth in flames, this nuclear blight.

Better it is to keep our mind prepared
More for this: that no effort will be spared
To find some loophole, when the battle starts,
For hurling, lightning-like, these awful darts
To paralyze the foe ere he has time
To take the lead in this Satanic crime.

(iii)

We still will be mistaken if we hope
That statesmanship will find a way to cope
With this alarming problem, if not now,
At least, as soon as changing trends allow.
For how in future can you guarantee,
When less developed countries are now free
To buy new weapons and increase their might,
As much as they desire or think is right,
The safety of less populated lands
That have preponderant portions in their hands
Of earth's resources, fertile tracts and gold,
Secured by force or by adventure bold?

They cannot with the older type of arms
Withstand the onslaught of the mammoth swarms
Which densely peopled countries can deploy
Against the meager number they employ.
Within a few more years the larger ones
Armed with the latest engines, tanks and guns,
Would be more than a match e'en all alone,
But with a coalition stronger grown,
Can prove invincible when they smite
And make the erstwhile great the dust to bite.

Within a few more years the crowded East
Will be a power to reckon with, at least.
The larger countries India, China and
The Arab states brought under one command,
Which singly or combined are sure to prove
A serious threat to those whose minds yet move
In the old rut, who still serenely feed
Their vanity, their power-lust and their greed
On this assurance that their nuclear arm,
In all events, can keep them safe from harm.

Increase in strength of a less developed state
Compels one more advanced to compensate
It by a swift proportionate increase
In its own strength, a race that ne'er can cease
So long as mankind is bound by the chain
Of high temporal power or rage of gain.

Progressive trends in less developed states,
More so the larger ones with high birth rates,
When coupled with enhanced campaigning might,
Cannot but lay bare to the piercing sight
Of heads of forward states the urgent need
Of raising their own strength with greater speed.

As in a war manpower immensely counts,
And as the might of larger countries mounts,
And will keep on augmenting till they are
With mightiest of the forward lands on par,
The latter's efforts then to keep ahead
In this mad race must lead to exhaustion dead,
And in some decades more, if in that span
War is not outlawed by a global ban,
Before exhaustion supervenes, perhaps,
It might have changed the planet's boundary maps.

The hackneyed formula of balanced power
Can prove disastrous for peace at this hour,
Because, when every nation tries to gain
The top position, it can forge a chain
So vicious that continuance of this trend,
Of all attempts at peace can make an end.

Since our advancement on the mental side
Continues upward with a rapid stride,
So every step we gain on this ascent
Effects improvement in our armament,
Entailing greater labor, heavier price,
And day by day increasing sacrifice.

Ambitious nations which strive to excel
In fighting power, with each addition swell
Their budgets for defense to such a load
That can their whole economy explode;
Compelled to host for this barbaric need
A most voracious monster whom, to feed,
They have to sweat and bleed, to stint and save,
Privations, hardships and ill winds to brave.
But try, as they might, they see no way out
From this exhausting and expensive gout,
Except to find new ways to meet the expense
On this distemper caused by lack of sense.

The foremost nations in this hectic race
A hundred handicaps and hurdles face.
They have to guard against the slightest chance
That helps their rivals gain the least advance
In army strength or stocks of latest arms,
Or world opinion which in some way harms
Their prestige, always anxious not to cede
Any loophole for them to gain a lead,
In e'en one of a hundred different things
Out of which interstate contention springs;
Assailed by e'er recurring fear to keep
Their country well protected from the sweep
Of hostile forces, they do not permit
Their vigilance to slacken e'en one bit.

Hard is a diplomat's unholy task
To keep a dagger hid behind the mask
Of smiles and goodwill, with a constant watch
So that a rival does not steal a march,
Nor grow in strength nor wealth nor prosper more
Nor gain in industry nor precious ore,
Nor own more talent nor inventive skill,
Like envious neighbors wishing each other ill:
A hopeless tangle no one cares to solve,
For it does not let human mind evolve,
And waits for nature now to apply the rod
To bring us round to sanity and God.

Why this malignance with hypocrisy,
So that no nation any time is free
Of ill intent against her sister states,
Not their felicity but downfall waits?

How such a morbid frame of mind can lift
Up from the sea of hate on which they drift
Our honored politicians, who win fame
When they kill myriads, countries set aflame,
Or watch in silence millions put to sword
And, if it suits their aim, not say a word?

Now, that two mighty giants in the race,
India and China both grow strong apace,
And other smaller lands whose warlike hosts
Try hard to vie in strength with forward coasts,
The efforts of the leading powers to stay
Supreme, become more taxing every day,
And fresh endeavors made to keep in front
Can drain their life's blood with the effort spent;
And has begun already to create,
Among the youth of many a forward state,
Distaste for actions which the elders prize,
Ill matching now man's intellectual size.

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Written by: Gopi Krishna


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