Sunday, January 30, 2005

See no evil?

Ah! One of the great dictums of the Mahatma! Blind yourselves to the evil so as not to be seduced by it, right? Perhaps, it can also be taken to mean that one should turn away from the ugliness and be happy with only the beauty of the world.
I have always disagreed with this dictum more than anything. One should not blind oneself to the wrongs done in the society but one should recognize them and help the human community and civilization by actively participating in the attempts to stamp it out. Yes, one could very well be seduced by it or be depressed about it but one must not let the fear of that to stop him/her from facing it. Many may argue that not all people are strong enough to face it and perhaps, that is why Gandhiji gave this famous dictum. Some may argue that the vast majority of people have their own problems to be depressed about, let alone worry about the evils in the external world. But none can tell you why everyone should turn away from it..
I have been vehemently against the Iraq war, which has turned into a personal anti-US war for me. Since before the beginning of the invasion, I have been writing against it. The blatant lies, the media-corporate-Bush nexus, the "smart" bombs that seem to smart enough to kill only "terrorists" and leave the civilians alone (even when it exploded in the middle of Baghdad), the self-righteous assertions of the pro-war, pro-"freedom" goons, etc, etc had disturbed me for quite a while. Every story I read seemed to be a reaffirmation of the US' guilt and every story made me slip into depressions of the futility of life. To top it all, the American elections was a sham. The Americans had no real alternative. Kerry was probably worse than Bush but if he had won, I could at least have calmed myself with the thought that they had rejected Bush's lies. But it was not to be, and their election process sickened me. So much so that, I unconsciously turned myself off to the Iraq stories. Sometime in the past, I do not know when, I stopped visiting commondreams.org. I had turned away from the evil! I was guilty of breaking my own rules...
It is times like these that some stories or articles wake up the real you and shows you the brutal reality of what you have done. I just happened to visit commondreams.org yesterday and I read a couple of articles just because I was bored and had nothing to read. But they opened my eyes to the darkness I had surrounded myself in by closing them. Just have a look at these articles -

Why the Children in Iraq Make No Sound When They Fall (http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0128-24.htm)

We've snuffed out innocent lives in numbers that insurgents and terrorists could only dream of. But we avert our eyes. We bury our heads in the sand and turn a blind eye to our moral cowardice, thus pulling off the amazing feat of being ostriches and chickens all at once. We owe this marvel of ornithology to the inexorable fragility of human illusions. To quote James Carroll, "we avert our eyes because the war is a moral abyss. If we dare to look, as Nietzsche said, the abyss stares back." George Bush, the philosopher, has updated Berkeley's riddle: Do Iraqi children scream when the bombs fall if there is no one in the White House to hear them?


What the Rest of the World Watched on Inauguration Day (http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0128-35.htm)

Would anybody in the United States be seeing this picture today? Would the United States ever see it, in fact? And if it is printed in the United States, will it also cross the country like wildfire and would people hear the unwritten story under it?

Reading the second story, I realized that I had not seen the picture. So, I was not any different from most Americans in that respect. That came as a rude shock to me and I thought about how easy it is to turn away from the "abyss" and the quote from Nietzsche seemed so appropriate. I realized that it requires real courage to stare into the abyss. I have always agreed with Gandhiji when he said that it takes extraordinary courage to be non-violent when under fire. Many of us think that our struggle was a non-violent one but the truth is that every movement started out in the non-violent mode but turned violent when the British (or Indians under the British garb) soldiers turned their lathis on the protestors. People talk of the Jalianwallah Bagh incident but people rarely talk about the violence that rocked Punjab in that period which had made the police declare curfew in the entire province. Yes, it takes real courage to face the truth. Then why did Gandhiji ask us to "see no evil"?

In Iraq, elections are being held today. The US says that it would bring democracy to that part of the world. I wonder when the US would bring democracy to itself, let alone to a country it has colonized. I wonder when US would start killing civilians in a distant country and calling it "infinite freedom". I wonder when it will realize that they have killed 20 times (or more) the number of people killed in the WTC attack in Iraq.
I think it is the duty of all the inhabitants of this earth to bring peace to earth. For that to happen, we need to face the truth and act accordingly.

Apurva Mathad

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