Thoughts of a caring mindThe eternal search for Utopia [Archives:2003/631/Opinion]

April 14 2003

By Samira Ali Bindaair
I am writing this as a human being, with no political affiliations – but I would be lying to say that without affiliation to culture, religion, homeland and nationhood. I do not think that anyone could make that claim of being totally free of affiliations at any level. However, in the end we are all human beings, with the same substance running in our veins hether our skin is brown, white, yellow or black. Through the sheer accident of birth, that places us in a particular corner of the earth, our education, and religious-cultural beliefs are purely circumstantial. We are the product and sometimes the victim of our environments.

Losing direction
Many have in later life chosen to alter the course of their lives by changing their earlier affiliations ome may do so out of expedience in order to gain from a particular stand. Some may do that out of fear and many others are prepared to die for their beliefs, one presumes after a long struggle with the self. These are probably the lucky few who have come to terms with the world and managed to restore the alignment with the self that events in the modern world quite often destroy. History is full of men and women who have died for their beliefs, whether Scientists, Humanists, Men of Religion, or Social Reformers. It was not that long ago when people were burnt at the Stake and denounced as Heretics simply because of their scientific statement that the world is round. With the present technology of nuclear bombs and nuclear medicine, we have gone far from that dark era! Or was it so dark after all? One begins to wonder at certain times. The Scientists who discovered Uranium could very well be turning in their graves.
Max Born, wrote in 1957, in “The Bulletin of Atomic Science: The human race has today the means for annihilating itself ither in a fit of complete lunacy, i.e. in a big war, by a brief fit of destruction or by careless handling of atomic technology, through a slow process of poisoning and of deterioration in its genetic structure”.
Omar Bradley, delivering a speech on Armistice Day in 1948, had stated: “The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom; power without conscience ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. Rebellion to Tyrants, he continues, is obedience to God”..

Life reduced to neat compartments
We have come to live in a world of extreme specialization thus leading to the compartmentalization of life which has resulted in turn in the “One dimensional Man” that Herbert Marcus spoke of in his writings. Our educational systems oscillate towards leveling out all forms of uniqueness, penalizing critical thinking and overwhelming children with facts to learn without any lessons to learn from facts. Universities also put adolescents through the conveyor belt like raw material in factories and the result is mass produced certificates that stand in a queue at jobless corners. Within this backdrop education has suffered a serious dichotomy between facts/technical expertise and the inculcation of human values and ethics hich is an important aspect of education and which distinguishes it from mere training and the acquisition of specialized skills.

Education and democracy
The rounded education of the Classicists has become a thing of the past. The corollary to this at the social macro level is the tendency for those who question the Establishment to be dubbed as “Miscreants” gradually becoming social misfits. Mediocrity by its very nature tends to breed mediocrity and becomes a self propagating mechanism for leveling out all members of society who attempt to rise above it, thus negatively inducting them into the establishment. Democracy becomes a dubious term under such circumstances, going very far from the original connotation of “The Rule of the People, By the People for the People”.

Religion versus secularism
With the emergence of secular states, religion has become something that the individual must keep between themselves and the God of their choices, thus isolating religion from its outward manifestation in society as a mechanism for regulating human behavior in order to create a better world. The kind of individualistic values that we hold today of the single-minded pursuit of economic interests “par excellence”, is a kind of fundamentalism much worse than that of religious fundamentalism. Man since creation has always had a need for filling the spirit and thus the spiritual void that ensues from this separation between the material and the spiritual has led to different reactions like religious extremisms because people feel threatened at every level, or in the search and eventual adoption of strange and false Idols on the other side of the fence. Just as the middle class is slowly disappearing from impoverished countries due to the widening gap between the very rich and the very poor, the middle course of the spirit is also slowly been threatened by the same unjust world that we live in today.

Might is right
With the political ethos of Might is Right, giving way to the successive exploitation of weaker nations by the stronger ones, the creation of so-called cross cultural understanding does not go beyond the arm chair philosophy that goes on in intellectual discussions and workshops, with human rights becoming solely the property of the dominant cultures. These become merely a conscience salving gesture to justify the kind of subtle racism that underlies culture bound slogans and political euphemisms uttered by culturally blind militants. Those fighting for their usurped lands indiscriminately become labeled as terrorists and those who terrorize others are often hailed as heroes, and recourse to international law becomes selective according to the predilections of the dominant forces. We have recently been celebrating the death of the United Nations as this body has been reduced to the role of a helpless bystander albeit the fact that it will be burdened with the task of distributing the coffins in the aftermath. The United Nations was formed to bring back sanity to a world gone mad after two major world wars will it stand the test of time and avert a possible third one? In other words, our generation has set the stage for never ending conflict and the potential of self-annihilation as mankind now stands poised at the edge of a dangerous precipice in the 21st Century!

Casualties of the 21st century
Going back to my opening about the fact that children do not choose their parentage or their nationalism, I feel extremely sad whenever I watch young men and women from different camps who in the end are helpless victims of their different establishments having gone through a process of indoctrination. Being a parent myself I can only see these people as somebody's children whose loss of lives will cause pain to their parents whatever their beliefs may be.
The World has seen far too many wars already, which have created nothing but destruction, deep cracks in human relations, depletion of the world's resources and the loss of innocent lives which get caught in the crossfire. It makes me sad to hear military men announce proudly the capability of their weapons of destruction which to me is an insult to human ingenuity. the hallmark of the well trained individual, professional in all but the basics of humanity.
In the Holy Koran, it is stated that when the Almighty had said to the angels that He will place mankind on earth, they had protested and said “You are creating those who will be engaged in bloodshed, while we bow to you in obedience and celebrate your bounty”. God's answer to the angels was “I know what you know not”
As I said before I am simply writing this as a human being like so many others on this earth who are alarmed to see what is happening in our world today. Yes perhaps I take comfort in the fact that God in creating Man knew what we know not only God knows where all this will lead to and end.

Universal democracy versus the New World Disorder
I also take comfort in the fact that for the first time in this Era, the common man in the street whatever camp they belong to have expressed their discontent with the way our world is heading. Green and Peace movements have been questioning this one sided philosophy of Globalization and senseless wars that threaten to erupt into God knows what like hot soup escaping from a neglected saucepan when no one is looking. That is the only hope we cling to, in order to ensure a better world for the future generations hat we come together as human beings with the common purpose of peace in rejecting the “New World Disorder”. Perhaps then we can begin to see Universal Democracy of the first order, and to borrow terms from the French revolution, a world of global “Equity, Equality and Fraternity”.