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The creation of a new Adam
Is it a global renaissance or an impending tragedy?


September 14, 2005

It was a rare moment for me to feel a little pessimistic about the way the world is going. I, the eternal optimist, was shocked with the news of natural disasters in New Orleans and Baghdad. But then, I reflected on my own theory. Our minds are bombarded with global information and the whole globe has become our neighborhood. On the one hand, we are witnessing an epoch-changing event of togetherness and unity, an epoch that will be most appreciated by future generations that brought the world together, and on the other, that coming together brings sensational items to the fore rather than peaceful subjects. This information overflow is not something our minds are ready to accept; we have this new level of connectivity since the last two decades, but the exponential growth of connectivity and pains of the world jumping in our living areas and blaring out of our sets is quite a new phenomenon. It takes its own toll on the human mind.

We need to appreciate that all of it is a harbinger of major change. A new global renaissance is taking place and people of the world are recognizing the ills of bigotry and benefits of an open society. The good thing about this new global connective renaissance is that we are all part of it without realizing that we are. We sometimes wonder as to where we are heading, when in actuality we are all in it together, it is a coming together of sorts. The common issue of pain struck me yesterday when on BBC an American in New Orleans, standing in queue for food and water was asked about his needs. His concerns were no different from any inhabitant of a third world country hit by a calamity, rather, it seemed to me, the lesser the baggage of life, the merrier one can be. Maybe we could think of enjoyment with some minimalism in our standards of living.

The pains inflicted by the Tsunami in poor South Asia and East Asia is similar to the catastrophe on the Gulf coasts. We human beings are discovering the common heritage of pain and misery associated with natural disasters. In a story of tragedy and calamity, new seeds of shared planet are being sown. The world has progressed on different trajectories of growth. We used to think of the advanced world as a world with humans that breathe differently, humans who suffer no impacts of any kind. Now this togetherness arising from uncontrollable disasters only drives the point home -- we all are a single race, afflicted with common woes, and our future prosperity depends on being careful to each other and bring the richness of 'unity in diversity' in our minds as a common shared experience.

The cynicism of media and intellectuals and their sarcastic approach as to the fate of the world does not take into account the great leap forward of human minds. These events only serve as a catalyst. We have enough nuclear power to destroy each other 2000 times around, so our best bet is education and appreciation of misery and pain that inflicts us. On this blue planet of ours, we exist as one. This is the realisation that will soon emerge; we will start to appreciate our home as global without manual boundaries. The pockets of extreme poverty of mind and body cannot coexist. When pleasure and happiness become victims of ideological Puritanism, and inclusion of rich cultural heritage of the past within the mainstream of a nation a religious issue, we get caught in a spate of fanaticism and intolerance. Closed minds epitomise bigotry and narrow-mindedness.

That is one of the reasons for our backwardness; rather, there is a direct relationship with the growth of a nation. Economic prosperity depends on trust and tolerance; freer and democratic nations flourish far better. If you draw a chart linking satisfaction, freedom and tolerance, you would find that nations where minds are free, even in Europe, are more satisfied and have a higher level of happiness. One case example is the Czech Republic and Slovakia, both ex part of greater Czechoslovakia. The Indian subcontinent's abject poverty and its inability to break out from demons of the past have been due to its preoccupation with deity, idols and Allah, in that order. Once the strain runs common in the huge pockets of global poverty, most of them become victims of hate and yearningly seek love.

History is a cruel divider, so is geography and race. Nations have become victims of historical rage accumulated from the past. Yesterday, the stampede in Baghdad found its origins in martyrdom of grandsons of prophets, they are unable to move on. The hatred of Sunni extremists to annihilate peaceful pilgrims to Musa Kazim mosque is reflective of a mortified culture, frozen in time and absolved of any renaissance. Tutsi and Hutu genocides are examples of hatred based on our biological diversity. Bosnia-Herzegovina massacres and ethnic cleansing, where educated nations tore each other apart due to ideological divergences, although they both had the same racial stock of Slavs; both were well educated, but victims of divisions of minds based on history. Rather, Bosnians are the most tolerant version within Islam and yet they were the subjects of ethnic cleansing, as Serbs refused to accept their own Slav cousins who prayed to different deity.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the Beslam massacre, another sign of prejudice of the utmost level where children became canon fodder of hate. The Chechens were adamant on their twisted justification that if Russians kill our children we kill theirs, discrimination of age and gender no bar. Revenge at its most animalistic peak, they came to wipe out the school; they were not hostage takers or freedom seekers, their purpose was to kill and avenge. This kind of mind, a destructive mind, finds moral equivalence to everything. Based on moral equivalences, responses are drawn, but only a very closed mind can do it. Love and togetherness brings humility and appreciation of purposefulness of life.

The conclusion of these examples is that it is broadmindedness of a stunning magnitude that can ensure changes of mind; otherwise, the demons of history will continue to devastate nations who refuse to move forward. When the same happens with individuals, they too get fossilized. But a frog in its little pond rarely realizes what he is missing in a river rich in bio diversity like the Amazon. Since we humans are far more complex than a frog, it is a shame to see that in the present day and age where open information and knowledge is part of our existence, we deliberately throw ourselves in a well from where we can view the diversity and richness of Amazon; but self-created chains that have been wrapped around us do not yield to the apparent benefits of love and togetherness.

Once the divinely originated predestination' becomes a part of national psyche, we all lose the will to change. This leads to a perpetual decline; continuous effort to change, and that does not mean just an economic change, but change of mind, body and soul, adapting to new realities and living with new challenges brings the best out of a collective body or an individual. On that count India is on the trot far ahead of most of Asians. The reason is that they do not have the ideological baggage. We are caught up in our own delusions, as a nation and individuals still too preoccupied with 'good and bad'. Good and bad' with an open intellect is far different from good and bad with a closed mentality. This millennium with all its tragedies is a milieu where a new connected Adam' is being born, a new super consciousness is rising, there is a silver lining to all these dark clouds hanging over our heads.

For letters section
Iqbal Latif

Iqbal Latif

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