The world is at war. The President of Philippines used a vulgar slur to insult the President of the United States; earlier victims include the Pope. The Chinese, no less petulant, refused a landing staircase forcing the visiting US President to exit his majestic Air Force One through the rear. Elsewhere, men, women, and children are dying in hundreds of thousands all over for no other fault except that they happen to have been born in these fractious times, in what have become the contested geographies of the day. The colour of the skin still continues to decide ones’ fate and any other shade but white is more than likely to shorten your life. In fact, even the colour white does not carry a safety assurance any more.
If it is not the colour, then it is the religion which is unacceptable, particularly if there are indicative external apparels or accessories to identify your faith. Or simply, you could be using the wrong parking place at the wrong time. It is a war of prejudices, and therefore, reason no longer matters. The right to life of the law-fearing human is not secure through a constitutional guarantee but is increasingly exposed to the whim and will of those who do not care for what the law is.
This is happening more than a century and a half after slavery was abolished, fifty years after the segregation policy was abandoned in the United States of America and seventy years after the United Nations Charter has been adopted by almost every country in this world. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights now lies in tatters and country after country, from democracy to dictatorship, is content with facile tributes to the common hopes and aspirations, at ceremonial gatherings in swanky places around the world capitals. It is not the human rights that are sought to be strengthened against assaults, but how much they need to be curbed because of assaults on unjust laws.
We have all kinds of international platforms to and for brothers-in-arms calling for their kind of preferred world order to prevail over the universally equitable one. ISIS, the Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, and more preaching to their adherents the superiority of their ideals deserving devotion and aggressive universalisation. In reaction, the established governments are asserting their right to eliminate oppositions in their countries where the interests, economic or geo-politics of the ruling elites are in peril, while notionally rooting for the cause of democracy and participative governance and the welfare of humanity.
The justification for all the nations’ policy moves is a single-minded pursuit of self-interest but best obtained by hunting in like-minded packs and groups. The contestations have multiplied as a result. Pakistan wants strategic depth, hence need to dominate Afghanistan. China wants to control access to South China sea, little matter that the International Tribunal held to the contrary. The Middle East is on a sim, Turkey is too. Only seventy-one years after the Second World War ended and the world promised to work through peace, the United Nations is looking dejected and helpless. Not to get isolated on the world stage is the key challenge. Spot the winning combination and stay with it.
So also, it is for the individual. Self-interest guides one’s every venture across the landscape of human interaction. This volume of self-interests can only cause conflict. But if you hunt in packs, then survival is assured. Precisely, the outcome that ought to have been feared and have been avoided, has really come to pass in our lives. The response of the state to all conflict is the biased use of the penal code in varying degrees of severity which only intensifies the anger and gives added energy to the conflicts. The venom and the violence of those aligned to the government gets overlooked if not forgiven while those across the divide are subjected to the might of the state security forces.
Leaders have resorted to grievance-mongering agitations and they often lose control over their direction and miss the moment to effect reconciliation thereby forgetting the cause. The end result is an even more volatile society with conflict genes inherent as they are, which awaits the conducive moment to reignite passions. It is easy to light the fire, but who will get consumed in it is not possible for even the fire to decide.
“We take no prisoners” is the new paradigm. To negotiate or even be seen to want to meet your opponent half way is a sign of genetic weakness and only shows that your moral fibre is plastic. To wear a perpetual frown on the face with fake anger is masculinity personified, and when deprived of a personal privilege not sanctioned by law or civic reciprocity, enlarge the grievance into a national calamity. We are not angered by the sufferings or poverty of the millions in this country whose rights and opportunities have been laid waste by heartlessness of the governing elites. We are only at war for ourselves and this crusade will not brook any law or ethic to the contrary.
The 21st century has become all about greed. Greed is good. Greed is legal. But there is no venom like greed. The transition from need has been swift, in fact in just over two life spans, the philosophy of loving thy neighbor has changed to coveting his fortune.
The only way for nations and individuals to go forward is to work for common interests. Governments must govern in common interest and not for partisan benefits. Religions are in personal spaces and let the individual choose his own path to salvation or hell, as is their wont. We need to keep the public spaces to give everyone a chance to wear their identity and belief without any threat. Governments of all nations need to eradicate the vipers generating so much vicious poisons.
(The views expressed are strictly personal.)