Time flows onward leaving the successes and the wreckages of yesteryears to enrich or haunt our morrows. The calendar says- this is a festive season; Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, Eid al Adha and many other festivals in many lands will be celebrated in late December of this waning year, followed by the dawn of 2007. Will it be a new beginning; respite from mayhem and relief from economic deprivation for our fellow beings- a real peace for all? It is too much to hope for, but hope we must, to keep striving for the universal peace.
Many will give and get gifts, some mundane, some meaningful. We are likely to feel the warmth or deprivation of the loved ones more acutely. The first six years of the 21st Century have seen turmoil and wars conceived in hubris. Hundreds of thousands of our fellow beings have perished, because we did not care enough for the value and dignity of human life while sanctimoniously paying only lip-service to the ethical principles of our religions and ideologies.
Many prone to reflection were initially confused with the changes in the array of political forces in the world, grappling for meaningful directions. Others clung to the hackneyed moorings of a myopic frame of mind. The fog has significantly cleared to reveal that the real enemy is our willingly cultivated ignorance, lost in trivia and half-truths on the airwaves feeding on our gullibility.
The world is not as different as is painted by the propagandists in delusional colors. Contrived collision of “us and them” has happened many times before. To fodder the flames of hatred our designated enemies are presented as caricatures. It is time to erase that fake line between them and us; it is an opportunity to face the outside world with strength, yes; but more importantly with understanding and compassion. Strength without understanding is always misdirected.
Thoughtless, rash actions extract a grim price from generations to come. We need to learn this oft-repeated lesson from history, as expressed in my interpretation of an Urdu poem:
History’s sad, tormented, unblinking gaze
Records the twist and turn of human vagaries
Recompense for the deeds of impetuous moments
Are extracted from tormented hapless centuries
Some of us in the richer countries have been blessed with more wealth and opportunities than most in the world. In this season of giving and receiving, we need to keep in mind- to those whom much is given, more is expected. Understanding is much harder to give and receive, than material things.
It is time to shed the mental lock of the belligerent attitudes of the 20th Century into the new millennium inaugurated by the 21st century to usher a longed for peace on Earth and goodwill to mankind. May you have the joy of the season, and a peaceful and fulfilling new era starting with the Year 2007.