It’s said that on the darkest of nights, when for long stretches, as they walked; Lakshman could not see Ram, and grew weary. Then as his hope ebbed, to its depths, Sita would step aside on the path, to let Lakshman glimpse, his God, Ram. His faith would be renewed, at the light, of his vision, and he would walk on unafraid, even in the dark. Faith in this divine light, is woven, into our Diwali Diya’s, to welcome our true internal Ram, back home. Welcome this Diwali light into our hearts, as we have seen too much darkness and suffering, this year
Fall of Covid season has arrived, as the flowers change; as we await the winter, and our fate in isolation. We live in uncertain times, and the pandemic is not showing any signs, of abating soon. Humans race for the vaccine, or preventable measures; to stop the spread, of this miniscule virus. Our Earth will go on with its seasons, and its flora and fauna will adapt, and the laws of nature will remain in force. Ignorance is not bliss, we have to awaken our inner beings, to the joy of this existence. Even in our isolated state we can reach inwards and try and find the peace and calm of our being. Each of us has our own destiny and hope and faith. Let us not cheapen our outlook but still strive to be the best.
Learn a new skill, do a few good deeds, learn to live with yourself and those around you. Life does not get any better than this, so enjoy whatever you have. This way when life gets back to a new normal, we will have learnt what we truly desire; and what we are truly capable, of achieving ourselves. With this hope we can then improve the lot of others around us and make an emphatic effort to better humanity. Learn so we can teach, Study so we can understand falsehood or Maya, Work so we can implement the change we need. We are capable of so much more when we unite our efforts, so prepare in this time, learn from nature. The season will change, and the new shoots will come out, we just have to be ready to ride the next wave, walk under the Cedars or Firs, swim in the lakes, hike in the mountain trails. Teach our children well, as they must learn to protect nature, just as it protects us.
Life is for living, and good action arises from good thoughts. Keep good company and do noble deeds with others. The more you give away, the more will be returned to you, as nature is a cornucopia and it gives and gives. We must be ready to open ourselves to receive our universal gifts, and not limit ourselves by sex, race, religion, or class. Free ourselves in this isolation, so we are only elemental and human, and then do our best. Our internal attitude change will change our life, and Our world, so we must work hard on our introspection and learning!
The Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, is a report released in May 2019 by the UN, and it is dire news for all fellow living beings, on our Mother Earth. The continued pillage of natural flora and fauna, to meet the agricultural needs, to feed 7 billion humans is devastating our planet. For one species alone, to virtually annihilate all others is the path we are on if we don take action. An estimated 82 percent of wild mammal biomass, has been lost, since their last warning, just a few decades ago. This loss in our fellow mammals, with the closest gene relationships, is a clear indication, of the heartless and willful destruction; of whales, tigers; and other mammals, large and small. It is not that we have even spared ancient species like amphibians, where almost 40 percent have similarly declined; in living environments available, and their numbers.
When I went to remote Maldives, I was devastated to see the white and dead reefs, where previously there had been extensive colored corrals, and schools of fish. Almost a third of reef-building corals, have been lost around our world. With global warming, it’s likely to prove deadlier, for this fragile ecosystem. As the oceans come under pressure, more than a third of the exiting marine mammals, have disappeared. The sight of Polar Bears roaming in areas, where they were never seen before, in search of food, is heart rendering. Bee populations have been decimated, and 10 percent of all insect populations, are threatened with extinction, in the near future.
The Report called on countries, to begin focusing on restoring natural habitats, and providing corridors needed for creatures to move about. All illegal logging must be stopped, and instead large areas need to be returned, to nature, with help from our best organizations. Humans have to learn the science of growing more food, on less land. Vertical cities, will need vertical farms, to feed them. The overfishing of our natural reservoirs has to stop. Fresh water bodies should be restored, to avoid severe water shortages in the future. Water harvesting and drip agriculture, will be needed on a massive scale. We cannot allow the continued dumping of heavy metals, and waste water into our natural bodies. Lastly nations need to take more action, to protect their marine areas. Offshore drilling reductions, waste and plastic removal and reduction of pollution strategies must be implemented on a massive scale. Marine protection habitats are all required urgently to ensure large swaths of Ocean are cleaned, of man-made pollution, and returned back to its rightful inhabitants.
The final recommendation is that we are all in this together, or else we will each die, separately. Economic drivers for polluting the earth and making it unfit for other creatures to survive, is no longer a viable option. Nations need to change their taxation systems, and economic penalties, to stop the continued pollution of our land, oceans and atmosphere. The money gained from these should be funds spent towards, doing what is right for all of us. The more environmentally beneficial programs we embark on, the better we will be. With this second warning in as many decades, the UN has put us on notice; that we and many of the creatures around us, are on a very destructive path. It is urgent to take action, and amend our way; before we lose most of what is so beautiful, on our planet: – the biodiversity of life that nature has created, over billions of years!
The young boy looked up in wonder, at the morning sun, rising above the trees. There was a line of them, along the slow river which flowed, far away. As it rose, it made the flowing river, to turn into a shining silver\gold combination. He closed his eyes and still the shadow of the bright light, remained in his brain, as if the sharp reflection of the sun, still remained. The flash reminded him, of that light he had seen, before the explosion, which changed his life.
He shivered as he lay on the ground, half up, leaning on his elbow, watching the day dawn, and turn to morn. He moaned slowly, as the ghost pain from his missing left legs, rose again. He tried not to start crying, so early in the day, as he did not want the village children, to call him a crybaby again. He closed his eyes again, trying to take long breaths, in and out, as his father had taught him, to calm his mind and body. When he opened them again later, he saw that the reflection of the sun, had gotten weaker, and the river appeared darker, against the green and brown of the trees.
He realized he was thirsty and started to crawl on the ground, towards the hand pump, in the shade of a nearby tree. It was where the street to the temple ended, from the heart of the Brahmin section of the village. He found a container with some left over water, and raised it, and took a long draught right down his open face, and down his parched gullet. Some spilled, but he did not mind as the cool water felt good, and his thirst was gone. He turned and looked down the Temple Street, and watched a stray dog walking away. He did not like dogs and was glad it wasn’t coming, for water.
He had never been inside the temple, or even the Brahmin section of the village. His sister had gone there to steal cow droppings, from their cows, when they went to graze, for his mother’s open fire. She mixed it with straw and made cow dung patties sun dried on their outside wall. His mother used the dried fuel and twigs as fuel. His eyes would often glaze, lying in that smoke, and soot filled hut. His mother cooked the family meal of cheap rice, and whatever they could afford, that day.
Mother had changed a lot, since the wicked men came, and took his father away. He had already suffered his injuries and was lying in his home, on the thick cotton sheet, in his corner quietly. He had heard his father talking and the man yelling at him, outside. Then other voices joined in, harsher and sharper. His father was saying “I have a lame child at home from this unholy war, please there is no one, to take care of my three children and my wife.”
“Take him away,” Came the voice of a man, who seemed high, as if on a horse.
“No, unhand me, No,” I heard my father cry out, as others dragged him away, kicking and shouting.
It had been three years since then and his mother had no time to play with him now. They had been so happy, as she would play with him in the mornings, after all her chores were done. He would laugh at her stories and all his pain would be forgotten. She was magical, she turned his long troubled nights, into a wonderful day. She whispered softly to him “My happiest baby,” and crushed him to her chest. They would cuddle together and play, without a care in the world. They laughed a lot together, happy in their togetherness
Now she would feed the family in the mornings and his older siblings would go off to the village school, as she went off to work. She is a maid in one of the merchant family’s, big brick home. It was a big whitewashed wonder, with lots of people. She worked all day cleaning and washing and anything else that needed doing, for such a large family. She returned in the evenings and made the evening meal, and fed and put them to bed, and slept herself.
“Our school is also a brick building, each class has big windows, with glass!” his sister had told him with awe, when she returned, from her first day.
The boy wondered what it would be, to be, in a room, with big windows. He could not imagine a place, where you could look out, at any time. She told him her class room was bigger than 4 of their huts, and had high walls, and a peaked clay tile orange roof. He wondered what it would be like to be in a strong building in the monsoons, would the rain still sound as loud?
He knew he would never go to school, and he was happy, for his sister. She pressed and massaged his left over thighs, where his legs had been cut off, after the blinding explosion. He liked it when she did that, and he smiled, for the first time that day. Then she heard her mother calling her, and she rushed off, leaving him on his sheet, in his corner, of his home.
“Come here sweat girl,” he heard a man’s voice, who sounded like the merchant, for whom his mother worked.
“She is very young and shy,” my mother said.
“Well, once she starts working, she will be fine,” the man said. “What good is it to you, to educate this girl, as I can help you, if you need more money? Let her come for work also, and I will increase your salary. You are lucky, your middle boy can continue to go to school.”
“She is too young,” my mother said, “She has to take care of my lame son, when she comes from school.” The man would not listen and soon left.
The boy became lonelier. He now had to fend for himself, all day. He would eat what his mother left him, and on days when the weather was nice, and he had the energy, he would crawl out. He was wary of dogs, as he had been almost bitten once, His brother had come and chased two curs away, just in time, as they snarled and snapped at him, in the street. Now he had no one, and so ventured out less often. Today he left the well and slowly crawled back home as the afternoon approached, and he wanted to be back, in his shady hut.
One night he heard his sister crying, “I do not want to go there, any more, mother.” She cried between sobs and he could see her shoulders shaking, as she heaved and wailed. Her mother reached out her arms and wrapped her and pulled her to her bosom. She held her in her arms and shushed her, trying to stop her crying. “They hurt me,” she murmured and mother continued to hold her, and tried to comfort her.
His sister stopped massaging his thighs, and she seemed to be afraid to touch his flesh. He would reach out to her as before, and she would retreat, as if afraid. This frightened the little boy even more, as he thought he had turned into some monster. He knew that he was scaring his dear sister, just as he had hurt his mom, with the blast. He hurt more, every day, now, and the pain, would not go. Even when he breathed, like his father had taught him, the pain stayed there, and arose and fell in pulses of heat.
He was losing his memory of his father, he realized one day. He could not hear his voice in his ear, telling him that he will take him to the city hospital, and that he would get better soon. He missed his strong arms around him, making him so warm and close and secure in his world. He learnt how to bear his pain, and not cry. He knew his father was taken away, because of him, as he had heard him pleading with them and they must have taken his father, because he was a bad son. Even if he cried, it did not matter, as there was no one there. So he just lay on his cotton sheet, in his corner of his world, alone, and unwanted.
The long nights became especially painful for him, as he tried to be quite, so his mother could sleep. The nights when he heard his sister crying silently, were the worst, for him. They were so close, and yet so far, and he felt like screaming. Then he would remember his sleeping mother, and his father’s gift. He would cuddle himself, into a ball of pain, and breathe. He would take one long incoming breath. Then a slow outgoing breath. He would continue his breathing moment by moment, aware of his pain; and dying a little bit more, with each breath.He eagerly awaited the dawn to escape a little, whenever he had the strength..
His life force slipped away in the winter night, quietly, without a murmur. Next morning his mother picked him up, and took him out, and laid him in the sun, to clean him. She washed him and looked lovingly at his beautiful face, and prepared for his last rites. The people from the neighboring huts came, and helped prepare him, for his final journey. All she could remember was his smiling and giggling face as a baby.
As the men lifted and took him away, a single tear fell from his mother’s eyes. “My happiest baby,,,,,” repeated again, and again, was all they heard, as they took him away.
No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. -Robert Frost, poet (26 Mar 1874-1963)
The morality of the economic elite is not be questioned by the middle class; and similarly the lower classes are supposed to live with their own moral or immoral behavior, squeezing the middle strata from both ends. The pleasures of the senses though fleeting; seem to attract the worst in us, and but for our morals many more of us would fall into a trap of descending morality and decadence. The rise of civilizations is when the middle class is on the ascendance; and lasting change comes neither from the top, or the bottom. In any great society history has shown that while the middle holds itself to a higher standard, only then the society continues to evolve into a higher rising spiral of success.
The greatest leaps in philosophy, art, science and architecture have come about, when great ideas were shared by the middle classes and spread across the spectrum of universal thought. To achieve this; great dialogs have to take place, and education and cultural renaissance has to be nurtured and spread across the nation. The atmosphere has to change to allow this great exchange of ideas, to encourage innovative thinking and solutions for the betterment of mankind, and also of our fellow creatures. For this to happen a more equitable distribution of resources has to take place; so the best ideas can be implemented and allowed to bloom, into the next fruitful endeavor.
Today we face a great dilemma where the elite are increasingly gathering the resources to them, at an unprecedented scale, and the political will to redistribute is gone. The poor subsist on the dredges of the top down approach and the middle is struggling for its economic and cultural survival. Failing standards in schools and universities are pushing the middle class further behind. In an unequal economic war, large corporations squeeze the workers out; for the benefit of their shareholders. The top corporate officers are often seen running away with the million(s) dollar prize, even when they are dismissed for not adding any value. We learnt from Alan Greenspan’s following of the Ayn Rand philosophy; by allowing capitalists to go forward and multiply unchecked, led to unintended consequences. Instead of being harbingers of the greatest good, they showed unmitigated greed, bringing the greatest financial institutions of the world to financial ruin, and led to the Great Recession and a lost decade.
It is still too early to say who will come out as a champion of this century, or this millennium. The US, and China are the front runners today but neither of them are known for their high happiness index, or measures of equality. While one has a dysfunctional political government, the other has an overtly centrally planned one. Neither of these models is conducive to find the long lasting solutions for a moral standard, which will allow humanity to be happy in the long run. The US stands on its own moral high ground belittling all other developing and undeveloped nations as inferior, and China has historically maintained that its Middle Kingdom is superior to all others. We desperately need a new model.
We should all think long and hard on what we want to achieve and what kind of a world we want to leave for our next generations. A more equitable and caring world is only possible if we remove the rose colored glasses, that we all wear. We need to be able to look clearly at reality and without prejudice move towards a morally higher path. Innovation and development are not mutually exclusive from compassion and love. We have to not only embrace diversity and equality, but have to allow it to prosper and grow. From the many will come the solutions of tomorrow and not from the elite at the top. The revolution from the poor will only unravel the laws of a civil society and be more regressive then progressive. Our greatest achievement will be to lead all around us from darkness of ignorance to the light of knowledge, and from the untruth of sensual weakness to the truth of moral strength which is everlasting.
Finally the day has dawned and I can request all my fellow travelers on this journey; to sample a tale about Times Square, and a family’s despair, hope and faith on Broadway. Will you please help me to share its availability for sale at Abbott Press at the link attached?
Arundhati Roy has correctly stated that the open sore that festers all the country’s political bodies in #South Asia based on the division on religious lines by the British, now lies exposed to all when she says specifically in this last Indian elections “The two main parties agreed on most policies, and each had the skeleton of a mass pogrom against a minority community in its cupboard. So now, it’s all out in the open. The system lies exposed.”
The attack on the Indian consulate in Afghanistan where luckily no official died is a symptom of this disease. The killing of 60 people in Northern Waziristan a strong hold of the Pakistan Taliban, the killings in eastern India all show countries, in a war with themselves. To the credit of the countries the security forces have behaved admirably and performed their tasks well keeping the separatists and terrorists at bay. The fear mongers and nay-sayers will predict the worst for the future atrocities that humans are prepared to undertake in the defense of their religion or their community. For tribal societies homogeneity is not a preferred lifestyle as life is lived within the remote forests and valleys in their own distinct flavor. With democratic governments all across the SARC region the imagination boggles at the possibilities of a progressive state.
Will the economic ties be strengthened and the rule of law enforced so that trade and commerce can happen in open borders with trust and conviction?
Will cultural exchanges be encouraged so that we can all understand, how much we have in common and to gain collectively, if we all pool our resources and develop together?
Will we open up seamless trade between our traditional Indian Ocean neighbors from South Asia to the far east and Africa in the greatest development of trade ever imagined?
Will pipelines of energy flow into the starved heartland from Iran and Central Asia; so great enterprises can flourish, and tech cities be built to house the next generation?
Will the harnessing of 80% of the region’s water that flows into the ocean today, be saved for prosperity, before the Himalayan snow caps melt into history?
Will healthcare, education, human development and equality be the new standard against which a nation is measured; rather than the old ones of hate, ignorance, bigotry, caste and creed?
Will the infrastructure finally be built to crisscross the land; in 12 lane highways, superfast trains and modern airports, with the bridges, tunnels, ports and warehouses that are required for a modern life?
Will we be able to leapfrog to the internet of things; as while it too a long time to collect 550 million votes, we could count them electronically in just one day. By modernizing electronic communications – imagine what we could do for agriculture, housing, transportation, crafts and local products with open markets?
Will we generate employment for the millions; that will only spur us into an upward spiral of development and prosperity at a scale, that the world has never known before?
Questions that only time and a steely resolve to improve a fifth of humanity’s condition can answer, we can all join in the effort with a single step forward.
“This massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a real threat to inclusive political and economic systems, and compounds other inequalities – such as those between women and men. Left unchecked, political institutions are undermined and governments overwhelmingly serve the interests of economic elites – to the detriment of ordinary people.” Oxfam reports that the 85 richest people own as much as the poorest half of humanity put together.
The growing #inequality between the haves and the have nots continues to grow despite all the trickle down economics that was supposed to help the poor. There is no rising tide in the forecast that will lift all the boats and reduce poverty and provide the education and skills required to improve productivity. Those who have control of the property and assets will continue to reap rewards and those without will continue to struggle to make ends meet. Nation states will continue to protect their wealthy citizens as they control the nation’s wealth. All others are second class citizens and can be controlled with the laws of the state, if they step out of line to grab a fair share of their existence. Who ever heard of laws to help the homeless, insane, destitute or of our own folks in deep despair? The laws are written to protect the precedence of established #wealth and hierarchy, by the paid servants whether by political or economic patronage. Suspect all not for profits and charitable institutions, until you can see them working with the disadvantaged and for them alone.
Modern states have all the tools at their disposal to build a more equitable economy through the use of taxation and the dreaded words to conservatives “income distribution”. A more equal world will open up opportunities for half of humanity living in dire states and allow them to achieve what the 85 can never do on their own. I am no Robin Hood who would rob from the rich to give to the poor. I would instead advocate a path of growth and development where the state provides justice and the rule of law and national security and leaves the rest to the people. The use of taxation is to take from those who have been blessed with too much and use it for education, health care, shelter of the masses by providing the infrastructure for the people to build their own lives. People are resourceful and can solve their own problems and to create what they need, to leads a happier life. We do not need the Rich or the State to provide handout but rather help the individual to develop into a productive member of society.
The state should ensure that the roadblocks from outdated laws and political patronage, should be overhauled to provide more inclusive growth. This overwhelming inequality is a moral insult to all people who value human dignity and respect human freedom. Why force people to live out a life of subsistence and depravation when we have the means to raise them out of poverty and destitution. The cost of raising their standards is insignificant in the larger political economy; as if we stop our wars for even a year, we will be able to pay for it many times over. It is the price we pay every day that is too much; to have this #inequality fester, all over the human body. Given the opportunity people will become productive and lift themselves out of poverty and ignorance. Even history guides us as Greek-Roman historian Plutarch: `An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.` . Is the empowerment of 85 more important than that of 3,500,000,000?