Monday, July 03, 2006

Platform number something and a half

From another exchange with James in late-2002:

Dear James

Thanks for sharing your thoughts / feelings regarding US - Iraq. You are Arab after all! I am with you 100% in what you say.

Might rules OK! You don't like it, get f...ed.

I have lived and worked in Israel, and also spent some time in the West Bank, and thus seen, heard and felt for myself something of the madness there. The situation in Kashmir here is perhaps comparable. No rationality, no principles, no uniform standards. Expediency, narrow interest, opportunism, cynicism, etc dictates.

Unfortunately, I can't be a flag-waver, or even a glib ultra-radical!

But why should poor old Uncle Sam be seen as the sole ugly, evil bastard? Anyone else in a similar situation would have done the same or worse! What about the civil wars of social, cultural, racial, economic strife taking place in so many places? In my own India, though "Global Imperialism" is a major factor affecting the quality of life of people, there is also an enormous domestic agenda of transformation, which gets far less attention than the purported struggle against Imperialism!

So obviously all this will breed a response, its mirror image. But the world and mentality of the humble jihadi has also to be understood. I have been working for some years now in such an environment. Like you said about India being like platform number something and a half, there are so many apparently bizarre (but within its own milieu, quite normal) platform something and a halfs all around us. In the 'Third World', there is far less capital available to apply the cosmetic that enables the illusion that man has evolved far beyond his animal origins. "Life in the raw" is more easily and readily visible here. Besides, the more overt forms of imperialism, there is also the enormous imperialism in terms of culture, life-style, values, which is also at the heart of the global problematic.

Basically human beans everywhere have to lift themselves up, be lifted up, from the muck. As one of my Gurus, the American thinker Lewis Mumford, wrote, there is a "geological fault in the human psyche", the only difference between the situation of the immemorial past and today is that today the fat cat has the power, capability and means to wreak much greater havoc, and destroy life itself. In Mumford's words (which never fail to sound to me like Biblical verses):

“Those who have studied the ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian religious texts know how cruel, destructive and inhumane man’s godlike faculties actually can be. Only mammalian tenderness and human love have saved mankind from the documented gods that rise up from the unconscious when man lets himself off from the cosmic and earthly sources of his life.”

I entered social activism after I returned to India from London in late 1984. But for some years now, my own existential solution to the intricate lunacies of Politics and its not so sublime psycho-ethical connotations, has been to turn inward, towards self-correction. Working at self-improvement, and on that basis helping others to as well, seems to be the only way to retain one's "sanity" while living in this world!

1 comment:

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