It’s time now for me to pause, look back and put what I’ve been saying thus far in perspective, so that the path for the blog’s future is better defined. But before I do that, here are two quotations to mull over, for I feel they define my blog’s purpose much better than my own words probably could. The quotations are from F G Pearce’s Introduction to his book, An Outline History of Civilization (OUP, 1957):
“The new danger of our present Age is that Man possesses knowledge of the forces of Nature, but he does not possess self-knowledge. Man can control many of the powers of Nature, but he cannot control his own nature, his selfish thoughts and desires.”
“Systems are what they are because of what we are and what we desire. To change those systems we must begin with ourselves. When enough people are different the systems will change because the people want them to change; it will not be necessary to force them by violence and fear.”
Now, for a summary of what I have been saying over the last several posts, trying to see how Religion, Politics and Law – the three defining forces (or systems) of our time, as I see it – impact individuals, impinge on their lives and interact with each other, drawing us, unresisting, and often unsuspecting even, into their clutches:
1. Over millennia, Religion has moulded the way people think, feel, react, emote, eat, grow, dress, interact, live. From a spiritual quest in search of God, to a philosophical search for the meaning of life to conceiving of God in man’s likeness, Religion has moved a long way from its roots, and has, in so doing, given concrete shape to an abstract idea, made God a commercial ‘commodity’ and converted His thoughts and teachings into ‘promotional literature’.
Religion, which is such a powerful force, can unite rather than divide humanity if we rise up and seek to remedy whatever ails it. We can and must find the courage to question, to change.
2. Politics is about influencing thought, controlling minds and triggering actions. Politics is about the power to decide what will happen and how.
As individuals who are affected by the political process, we have a responsibility to be informed citizens, aware about what is happening around us, and how it is going to change our lives.
If we feel strongly about a political measure – whether it pertains to trans-national treaties, junk food sold in our children’s schools or local garbage collection timings – we must make our views known. And, in doing this, it is important not to take a short term or selfish view.
In the interest of preventing short term self interest to prevail over the long term health of the society, its mental and moral health in particular, individuals have a duty to be better informed in all their roles – as citizens of the globe and their nations, as parents, voters, working people, shoppers, road users, and guardians of this, our blue planet, above all.
To perform our role as conscience-keepers, we need to throw off our passivity and actively participate in the decision-making process.
Even if ours is the only dissenting voice, if we have the courage of conviction about the wrongness of the popular choice in a particular situation, we ought to register our dissent.
At various points in our life, we go along with the tide simply because we lack the fortitude to stand up to the might of the majority.
Discretion may be the better part of valour, but should we confuse inaction with discretion? Surely, a discreet way to assert our individual spirit can be found if only we would not deny ourselves the chance to at least consider speaking up!
3. Laws that we make today determine the kind of civilization, the kind of planet we will pass on to posterity.
In a bid to abide by the law, be accepted, in a bid to fall in with the norms, most of us make an effort to know the rules or learn them. However, it is seldom that we rise to question a law.
We put up with everything – from minor inconvenience to gross injustice, stoically. The question I want to raise is: Should we silently succumb to the pressure to conform or find the courage to stand up for change?