Today the world seems to be at the crossroads of history. With so many political systems and ideologies in operation in various countries of the world, the compelling economic situations in different degrees of struggle staring the world in its face, countries have to a great extent agreed to pursue some common economic pursuits in the form of globalization, international trade and basic world infrastructural needs in health and educational standards for the well-being of all the peoples of the world, for progress, growth and prosperity. While most nations have, of late, shown some mental resilience in adjusting themselves to the fast changing economic scenarios due to the compelling and gradual depletion of natural and economic resources in the world, politically the mindsets, of various nations are yet to undergo positive transformations for the benefit and progress of the world as a whole.
Truly speaking what the world needs today, is not just a juxtaposition of competing nations politically, but friendly partners working together for the “supreme cause” of making the world a happy home for humanity. Never should we look upon ourselves as rivals politically, but as friends working jointly with the common purpose of ensuring equality of growth and progress for all.
The years ahead of us are crucial because of the spectacular achievements we, as nations of the world, have won in the realms of science and technology. These achievements may be used for good purposes or for evil purposes: it depends on us and it is our hope that all these things will be utilized for the service and progress of man and not for the destruction of humanity.
In our narrow-mindedness, we sometimes crave not so much for our happiness as for the unhappiness of the other people. We have to awaken our conscience from its slumber and realize that we should be large-minded enough to know that the happiness of other people contributes to our own happiness. What makes other people happy should make us also happy.
Once Leo Tolstoy was asked “Have you seen the devil in your life”? Tolstoy replied, “I have not”. The interlocutor said to him “Look into the mirror you will find one”. In other words each one of us has in him certain elements of diabolic character and also certain elements of divine nature.
The ongoing fight between the Israelis and Palestinians, the fights in Chechnya, Bosnia, in the Kashmir valleys, in Sri Lanka, in Turkey, between Iraqi Forces and the US, between the Afghan Government and the Taliban elements are some of the war-like situations now prevalent in the world today, to mention a few.
We must strengthen the higher elements of our nature and weaken – because we cannot cure them altogether – the other elements which we also share. It is this dual character that is responsible for much that is happening in this world.
Strikingly and startlingly we have cooperated a great deal as different nations of the world. During the period of the 16th century, in the field of science, different inventions were made by scientists of different nations. Copernicus was a Pole, Galileo was an Italian, Kepler was a German, Newton was an Englishman- all of them contributed to the development of science.
Today in the 21st century also our modern science owes a great deal to the contributions made by scientists of different nationalities, We have become one international world. Economically we are becoming interdependent in several social and cultural matters. We are trying to be interdependent in the fields of science and technology.
With regard to human rights, we want to bring about the achievement of human rights for all people, freedom from disabilities – political, social and economic- from which many of us happen to suffer. The World is meant to be a partnership as well as a friendly universe. We must realize that we are born to live and to love and not to hate and destroy. We are born to help one another and not to destroy one another. But by our propaganda and indoctrination we seem to think that we are superiors and that others are not our equals. This kind of thinking is not due to the impulses of the human being. The human element in us naturally loves one another. But it is by indoctrination that we seduce a man from his natural generosity of spirit, sympathy and concern for fellow human beings. Our aim in this world should be that we should not exaggerate, should not misrepresent, should not indulge in propaganda and indoctrination, but listen to the voice of truth and love and obey the call of compassion. If we are able to achieve this to a considerable extent by constant efforts and sincere endeavours, we will be able to feel proud of what we have achieved. Just as we are all friends, individually our nations should all become friends. If that happens, this is the kind of consummation which we sincerely desire.
Our today’s world is full of tensions arising from the growth of new nations, from the passion for independence of non-self governing people, from the demand of less advanced people for a larger share in the world’s goods, from the racial policies adopted by certain nations and from the inequalities between the rich and poor nations.
In this explosive condition of international deterioration any miscalculation may lead to a catastrophe.
As long as we retain war as a means and method of settling international disputes or problems among nations and stock pile nuclear arms in our armoury with malafide and diabolic intention, then they will be used at some stage causing untold misery to millions of people in the world to the utter disregard for the human values.
One of the leading military theorists of our times Mr. Basil Liddell Hart wrote that “the object in war is a better state of peace.” But nowhere in the world over the years has this objective been achieved by any warring nation. Mr. Hart further observes, that it is essential to be clear about and to keep clear in our minds the distinction between the political and military objective. Nations do not wage war for war’s sake, but in pursuance of policy and if the policy is for political and territorial- aggrandizement, it will lead to disaster of the states and consequent destruction of millions of innocent people.
At the Anti-Nuclear Arms Convention held in New Delhi on 16th June 1962, late Dr S. Radhakrishnan, the then President of India expressed “the stock piling of nuclear weapons by different nations in the world and the nuclear race among various nations, if not by devious design, may by accident destroy nearly everything we hold dear and reduce this world to ashes”.
In this context, it is worth recalling what the former US President John F. Kennedy said more than 32 years ago. He said “we must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind”.
The human mind appears these days, at conflict with itself. We do not choose evil and accept it, but it chooses, enters us slowly and consumes us finally. This is so because man seems to have ceased to be a creative person. We are reduced to the status of an object shaped by impersonal forces. And this is man’s self-defeat.
It is actually wrong to assume that human nature is static and unchanging. Man’s sensitivity to evil has increased over the years. Many beliefs and practices which we had once adopted in the past depending upon the times in which they were given relevance have now been discarded due to the efflux and change of times. What we once regarded as right is now discarded as wrong. Human nature has changed in the past and will change in the future also. In this world of mortal peril, it is the immortal hope that is able to sustain us. We should be mature enough to realise that behind the hand that releases the bomb is the heart that sets the hand in motion. If the finer feelings of man are deadened, it is because we have been trained to look upon evil as inevitable as if “evil, be thou my good”.
A nation as an experiment in social living with its graces and values has a place, but as an instrument of power and exploitation, it has been ruinous. Nations should not be causes of irritation to one another. They should be sources of help and blessing. The future sends our minds back into the past. When the US entered World War 1 President Wilson, then in his speech to the US Congress on April 2, 1917 indicated the conditions of stable peace.Convinced as he was, he felt neutrality was impossible for the US when major aggressions occurred. But he advocated collective defence along with others against aggression and outlined the plan of the League of Nations which unfortunately could not get the support of the US Congress then. Over the years arms race and aggressions continued unabated as an off-shoot of mutual suspicions and distrust leading to the outbreak of World War 2. Whatever were for positive uses in the fields of science and technology invented by different scientists of different nations were negatively used for death and destruction of tens of thousands of innocent people by thoughtless and barbaric acts of nations in the past.
A case in point in today’s world is the war on Iraq by the mighty and sole super power, the US. In search of weapons of mass destruction alleged to have been stockpiled by Saddam Hussain, a full scale war was waged on Iraq resulting in the death of thousands of innocent people, leading to chaos and disruption of peace due to the Pharisaism of the US.
Although the member nations of the present day UN make tall claims for working towards world disarmament and peace, they actually operate within the framework of old institutions and diplomatic channels unable to come to terms with the pragmatism of accomplishing world peace. Even when they are aware that the new world of today requires new methods, orders and systems, they are inhibited by their old practices and conventions.
The conflicts that have been going on among different nations even today due to mutual distrust and suspicion remind of us the conflicts of previous ages. We have had conflicts between the Jews and the Gentiles, between the Greeks and the barbarians, between the Roman and the Provincials, between the Teutons and the Slavs, between the Christians and the Muslims, between the Catholics and the Protestants, between the Allies and the Axis powers.
No nation in the world is free from national egotism. All the nations of the world today are victims of pride, passion, prejudice and suffer from Pharisaism.
When we judge others we judge them by the society, religion or nation to which they belong and not on their individual merits and character. Our group attachments dictate our behavior and not our conscience, which should be the sole source of universality of judgement.In ancient Rome, long before the advent of technology, it was said, “Senatores boni senates bestia”, which when translated into English means, “ the individual senator may be an honourable man, but the Senate as an institution is a beast”.
We human beings, allow the flame of spirit to be smothered by the exigencies of the social situation and banish feelings of humanity from our hearts. The ruling motives of our behavior do not have that integrity which is characteristic of a truly civilized human being. English poet Auden says somewhere that “intellectual disgrace stares from every human face”. We need urgently an improvement in the quality of human beings.
The world is intended to become the abode of the family of man. It is the intention of nature. It is in the minds of events. In the last 5000 years we have moved on from the tribal to national phase of history. An appreciation of the common heritage of all people, an awareness of the growing inter-dependence of the world, a sense of the indivisibility of the freedom and well-being of all people and an abandonment of the faith in the unqualified freedom of nations will help build an international society. The revolutions that have taken place in the scientific, technological and atomic fields have actually converted the world into a single unit. And we human beings, have to understand this stark reality.
A major revolution in the conduct of international affairs is required now. We all are not saints or seers. We, common people, are subject to tensions within ourselves and conflicts with others.
Also we are subject to the stresses and strains of our inherited habits over the years.
Many NGO’s now a days in the fields of science and humanities are contributing to the building up of a world community in many countries and are educating the peoples of the world for peace and brotherhood. It is possible to create a new climate of thought and behavior, if we emphasise the universal truths- love, cooperation, compassion and sacrifice without which any work would be ephemeral and doomed.
If the varied economic, social, political and cultural institutions which affect the whole world are to be saved from collapse, the reinforcement of multi-cultural understanding and spiritual togetherness is an imperative necessity. We, people have been existing side by side for centuries. Not only should we simply exist together, but also live together, understand one another and love one another. Love of truth, quest of beauty and hatred of evil should be understood by all of us to be the bedrock of our progress and growth in all facets of our lives. We must be delivered from ourselves, from our narrowness of mind and loyalty to small groups.
The desire for peace and brotherhood should be deep in the heart of man. Gandhi once said emphatically that, “I shall have no pleasure from living in this world, if it is not united”.