Humans differ from the others in one respect: we have a sense of history. Our cerebral capacities are far higher than most other animals. They can pass on some knowledge from generation to generation, but we can pool information and knowledge over thousands of years. We can build up narratives spanning ages, and we can find continuity in the events that come to pass on individual and global scales. As the years roll by, we can piece together a giant picture of whatever is happening to us and everything around us from a greater point of view, and thus is created history.
Therefore, for any thinking person, it is important to keep this sense of history alive when they go about living actively in the world out there. They should take up their distinct roles in the story of humankind, and their decisions and actions must be true to that role they choose to take.
It is a rule that every trend is a product of the age preceding it. Every norm births the revolution that will overthrow it one day; every custom produces variations thereof; every belief breeds its own blasphemy. Thesis causes the advent of antithesis, and they break upon each other like waves and bring about a synthesis. This is how the wheel of time turns.
There is talk of war in the air, and I have taken up my position as an anti-war person. I have made it known that I equally condemn all warring parties. Am I an anti-national? Am I a follower of Gandhi? Am I dishonest and ‘politically correct’?
I am most decidedly not a follower of Gandhi. Gandhi would have me resolutely bear all violence showered upon me, and not strike back. I do not follow that path. However, this does not mean Gandhi’s path was all wrong, and all his steps were missteps. I just mean that my nature is not compatible with his ideals. I do not think that non-violence is always the answer.
But although non-violence is not the best policy at all times, it is surely the best policy at some times. That’s what history shows us; times change, situations change. Today’s brilliant strategy might be useless tomorrow. What is lunacy today, might be genius next week.
Reading the memoirs of freedom fighters, I can see how every stage of the freedom fighting movement was indispensable and essential. From the early, moderate days of the INC to the extremist attitudes of the later Congress leaders, from the militant nationalists to the non-violent Satyagrahis, from the fiery pens of Veer Savarkar and Rabindranath to the dauntless guns of the Azad Hind Fauj – every bit mattered. Every stage played its role, sowed the seeds of the next generation that would be better suited to tomorrow, and grew ineffective as decades went by and newer situations developed. At every stage, people thought their forerunners soft and grey, only to be second-guessed in the exact same manner by their own successors decades later. Only with profound hindsight did they realize how indebted they were to whatever went before.
So, no, I do not condemn Gandhi for his actions. Neither do I think that Khudiram and Bhagat Singh were hotheaded and misguided. All of them played distinct roles, and all of it mattered. Humanity functions like the human body does – it is a harmony of many notes. There are different organs with different roles, and we cannot call it senseless just because one organ acts in apparent discord with another. There is a reason the diverse groups and factions exist, and they all contribute to the progress of humanity. The natural law is never broken, and it all works out keeping in tune with Le Chatelier’s principle.
I am not anti-national in the sense that I want India to go down in fire and smoke. But I am definitely against the idea of nations. And by the same argument, I am against all war. As a 25-year-old living in the year 2016, I think I must deem war a cruel addiction we would do well to give up, and the idea of nations a moth-eaten edifice of a bygone colonial era.
This is the new worldview that is coming up now. This worldview had been dreamt up by visionaries long, long ago, and now it is finally finding its way to popular imagination. Boys and girls all over the globe are dreaming of a world devoid of borders. Songs are being written and sung of ‘all the people living life in peace’. We do not want war anymore. Humankind has learnt, and its newest descendants will no more be seduced by fallacious ideas.
There have been two World Wars, and many subsequent wars both ‘hot’ and ‘cold’. There have been accounts, diaries, poems and essays on them. There have been Remarques, Sassoons and Hemingways. And they have all left us data – so that we can learn – learn from history. And what history teaches us is this: When we go to war, everyone loses. And beggared though we may be, we all still have a lot to lose.
I do not support war, because it is planned and propagated by the people who never die in them. I do not support war, because every war sends shockwaves and scars through the years that follow, and those scars rot away and build up till they explode with pus and ichor on another battlefield. I do not support war, because it is a giant scam which a handful of people turn to their profit. I do not support war, because it rips apart a person from the inside and dehumanizes them into a demon. I do not support war, because on the battlefield, you are shooting at me because you are afraid that if you don’t kill me first, I will kill you – and I am shooting at you because my thoughts mirror yours like no two lovers’ thoughts ever did.
I do not appreciate ‘killing 1000 of them because they killed 10 of us’, because those who do the killing or get killed are pawns in a game where they are just fodder. Ask me to slit the throat of those who give the orders sitting in posh offices, and I’ll do it in a heartbeat. I have heard blood tastes salty – wouldn’t mind checking out if it’s true. But the ‘terrorist’ shooting at me is a henchman, and he would probably get killed by his boss if he refused to pull his trigger. If I would that he acted on his nobler instincts and accepted death for my sake, – well, I should follow the same standards.
Did I mention that I have seen Indian newspapers from the 1940s, and in them, Subhash Chandra Bose has been described as an anti-national terrorist who regularly partakes in sedition and other illegal activities?
Times change, generations change. Choices change. Right now, a section of the youth do not choose war. We don’t care if it’s pragmatic or not, we don’t care it will ‘work’ or not. We know how things turn out because we grew up in the Information Age and we got ourselves educated at the cost of potentially losing social approval. In this day of global exposure and social networking, jingoistic propaganda and mass-brainwashing don’t work so good anymore. Humankind has grown, and evolved as it has grown. This might be political correctness to some, but to me, this is simply what is right.
It’s funny how it works. We youngsters of today are younger than people from a hundred years ago. But we are the ones who embody an older humanity. We are greener in age, but we carry greater wisdom on our shoulders. Upon us rests the responsibility to fix what our forefathers have broken. It is up to us to become the Embodiment of the Past, Product of the Present, and Prophet of the Future.
The other day I read, ‘A man’s personality is moulded by the whole system of the society in which he grows up so that it fits in, somewhere and somehow, into the social pattern. And the converse of that is also true. A civilization is always being changed and added to by people who do not fit in absolutely smoothly, who think they could improve the society so as to make it better to live in.’ I choose to not fit in absolutely smoothly. And I am willing to bet that many others will, too.