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Monday, July 4, 2016

Horror in Dhaka and the Man, the “Inconstancy, Weariness, Unrest”

We the living, as a race, are capable of nursing one another, weeping for one another and moaning at the pain of others, and at the same time can slaughter one another, that too, so casually. At least that is what becomes evident if one revisits the savagery inflicted by men on fellow men in Rwanda, Chechnya, London, Madrid, Lebanon, New York, Syria, followed by Paris and Brussels.

And the latest in the series of man killing man of the civil society is the Orlando massacre: On June 11, a man, by name Omar Mateen, coolly walked into a Gay Club in Orlando, Florida at 2 a.m. with a Sig Sauer AR-15-type assault rifle and a Glock 9 mm semiautomatic pistol and indiscriminately killed about 49 people in an initial bout of shooting and then engaged the police in a dialog under a three-hour hostage kind of situation, until finally the police rammed in an armored vehicle and killed him.

Close on the heels, the brewing religious intolerance and growing targeted violence over the last one year in Bangladesh has surfaced as a heinous attack in an upmarket café in Dhaka that left 28 people dead, including six gunmen. One report indicates that the assailants demanded that the hostages recite passages from the Koran from memory, the failure of which resulted in their death. The most intriguing fact of the whole episode is that the assailants are all said to be from urban, that too, from well-to-do backgrounds. And then, it is the turn of Baghdad: a suicide car bombing, claimed to be perpetrated by the IS, killed at least 119 people and wounding as many.

All this is still an enigma: How could the most wise and the most moral of all the living beings could resort to such an unmindful slaughtering of fellow beings under the guise of ‘ism’, religion, ethnicity, or whatsoever?

The planet has witnessed leaders like Gandhis, Martin Luther Kings, Mother Teresas and Mandelas who inspired awe in us by their sheer goodness. It has also seen Hitlers and Pol Pots who left us in shame. This is our paradox: we are the altruistic and we are the atrocious too. And this enigmatic process has perhaps been running right through the history. Even the religion, that invention of the cave men to organize themselves into an orderly living could not stop them from resorting to such inhuman activities once in a while.

With the stockpiling of nuclear arsenal, we are, for the first time, facing the threat of extinction of human race and of all life on the planet. With the scientific advances, we have made in building weaponry, our cruelty appears to have grown in intensity and efficiency, more so in the recent past.

The result is, today the world is undergoing a state of profound crisis. It is a complex and multidimensional crisis, the facets of which are touching every aspect of our life. It indeed is a crisis of intellectual, moral and spiritual dimensions. The underlying reasons for this disharmony, between people, between societies, between religions and between nations, and the resulting mercilessness are many.

Primarily, it is the economic marginalization of many by a few and the resulting injustice that appears to have driven people to take up arms. Secondly, it has been flared up further by cultural clashes and religious fervor. And the advances made in weaponry-related technology have only made the effects of this hatred that much worse.

Amidst this crisis, there are many who are strikingly aiming at peace, and peace does not
mean mere ‘no war’, but according to the Vedanta (Indian Doctrine), it is concerned more with shanti, understood as tranquillity or equipoise and achievement of personal integration and individual harmony.

Indeed, Einstein too echoes the same when he said, “Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison (of bondage with the self) by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

So to construct a better human society, we have to be nirmamonirahamkarah—without the thought that “This is mine” and “This I am” (Gita, II.71) and advestasarvabhutanammaitrahkaruna eve ca—non-hating, friendly and compassionate (Gita, XII.13). But the question is: How to achieve this transformation? There is, of course, an answer: Take control of yourself. If you listen to your inner voice, you tend to lead a life of friendship towards everyone with animosity to none. And this style of living is not beyond one’s reach.

But the greatest stumbling block to this simple path of living is: narrow nationalism, tightening influence of ‘ism-driven’ philosophy, or irrational ‘religious-faith’ that is encircling all of us. Here it is worth remembering Hardy’s call for a kind of internationalism and pacifism: “[N]othing effectual will be done to the cause of peace till the sentiment of Patriotism be freed from the narrow meaning attaching to it in the past … and be extended to the whole globe … and the sentiment of Foreignness—if the sense of contrast be necessary—attach only to other planets and inhabitants if any.”

Hardy further observed that such acts of heinous violence leads to no celebration, not even grants relief: there is only celebration of ‘nothing’, as is testified by the final killing of Omar Mateen in the instant case of Orlando massacre. So, the question is: Why Omar, why this massacre? There is, of course, no answer, for his shooting down of 49 fellow beings, at the most, might have granted him the pleasure of cheating the nature off death and hence all his acts end up pointless—a mere method less madness!

Unless each one of us practice loving kindness by becoming ‘nation-less’, ‘religion-less’, ‘ism-less’ towards each other that has been actuated by the modicum of free will, we shall keep witnessing Orlando-, Dhaka-, Baghdad-kind of incidents. And owning of this doctrine, families too must ardently transmit it from generation to generation. Indeed they only can restore orderliness in the society. Then only Shanti prevails all around.


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