Sunday, May 05, 2013

Solutions to World Problems

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action---
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

                                                                                              - Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali

The world, as of today, is in pains. It is so full of problems, at times it seems that there are no viable solutions, with the situation getting out of control each and every day. I would not like to use a pessimistic word like “insurmountable”, but to the teeming billions, the problems are practically insurmountable.

It seems that nobody is at peace today. Not even the ones who have plenty. Those having plenty are at a constant fear of loosing their riches and also a constant urge to earn more and more. Even being among the 1 % does not make them contented. Those having nothing (the remaining 99 %) are finding it increasingly difficult even to sustain their miserable lives. Except for a few lucky ones, they do not have any means to improve their living conditions.

So is this the ultimate outcome of the tremendous progress in science and technology in our times? What has humanity gained from science?

It was contemplated that when we can invent enough smart machines to carry out our day to day mundane chores like washing, cleaning, calculating, cooking, communicating, etc, we could enjoy much freedom. We could engage ourselves in more creative works like writing, painting, interacting with family & others. But apparently the case is just the opposite. We don’t seem to have any spare time today even for our family and friends. Everybody is spending every availably minute to earn some more money. So what went wrong?

By the very inherent system of capitalist economy, capital attracts more capital. Money can be invested to earn more money. So ultimately the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. The gap between haves and have-nots, 1% and 99%, is an ever increasing chasm.

No, please don’t jump into conclusions. I am not starting a case of defense for socialism or communism. The world, at most parts, has gotten rid of the utopian romantic principles of communism, as it was unable to cure the most important disease. This system made the practitioners loose out in competition with the rest of the world, apparently due to its many inherent problems. The most glaring ones being lack of freedom, lack of innovation due to absence of incentives, ruler for life and hereditary ruler similar to monarchy.

So, isn’t there any solution? Or one day humanity will be split into two separate species, the haves and the have-nots? The haves can improve upon themselves by robbing more and more resources of mother earth, by indefinitely extending their lifespan using latest medical knowledge, and by dominating the latter. There is scope for improvement for the have-nots also. They can return back to good old evolution. They can fight among themselves for whatever scanty resources are left, they can kill each other in the true sense of ‘survival of the fittest’, and Darwin will be happy in his grave to see his theory in practice even among modern humans. There will be no marital relations between the two different species, except maybe for a few ‘outcasts’.

But all is not lost my friend. Fortunately, over the ages, humanity has been gifted by extraordinarily talented people having extraordinary insights into the ways of life. We should not forget their legacy. One such visionary was Rabindranath Tagore, having born in an obscure and conquered country called India. In his Nobel Prize winning work Gitanjali, he has given us a hint towards a more sensible society by the following words. “Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls; “
Just think, why are we still carrying the evil practice of our shameful and ignorant past? Why are the national boundaries still flying their flags of arrogance & prejudice? Why this narrowness of thought? What gain do we get by keeping people separated from one another by putting up boundaries, other than hatred and wastage? Wastage of lives, wastage of time, wastage of money and wastage of many other resources. These resources could have been better used to build a happier and more prosperous world. All those cannons and tanks and fighter jets and aircraft carriers, they cost a hell lot of money. All the starving children of the world could have spent their days with a full stomach if there were no separate nations. Aren’t we humans as a race, matured enough to forget our hatred and unite to create a free world?