Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Self & Society

Those of us raised on Western philosophy are very clear about the right of the individual, how an individual like ourselves, no matter how basic or poor, is still a countable entity which has the liberty to exist in the best way that we each see fit so long as we personally do not become a nuisance to anybody. This idea of the autonomy of the individual comes from the idea of the existence of the self, where we each like a light bulb can glow quietly unperturbed in the intensity that we have the energy to dispense.

The exertion of the right of the individual self does not in any way automatically leads to the conclusion that the individual is selfish. To be aware of the self is very different from the inclination to always and only look after oneself. Selfishness is that narrowness derived from the unenlightened view that to stay alive is the raison detre for living. Staying alive is nothing but a fallback position when one has nothing else better to do in life. That is why there are individuals who climb rocks and tall buildings and high mountains, and others who dive into the deep dark oceans or float in the deep dark space. There are also others who simply walk into very dangerous places in order to get a job done to save other lives. It is this right of exertion to live or die or suffer in between that defines the character of individuals who under normal circumstances may live lives that others may not even notice. Heroes are born of individual selves who could have been selfish but instead rise above the consideration of the body and dedicate that body to an act that may just for a moment make ordinary life possible for ordinary people.

We have seen before our own eyes, and experienced an era of the destruction of whole societies by a few individuals for the benefit of the few individuals in the name of progress, rapid economic growth and full employment, as well fairness and equity. We have seen how new inequalities are being created out of policies which explicitly and purportedly tries to redress imbalances and injustices and only to find the ideals slipping through the fingers of those who try to command the earth to stop moving. These selfish individuals, nursing enormous egos, try to use sweet words intersperse with threats to cajole societies to dance to their tunes and in the process redirect the flow of the social efforts into their own pockets finding excuses in the shape of building monuments to themselves. These individuals are asking individual persons to sacrifice their lives so that these leaders can add greatness to their names, at the expense of the faceless toilers. That the powerful can enjoy opulence when the masses starve is the invisible hand that is redirecting scarce resources through the inflationary phenomenon.

At the Fukushima nuclear plant, volunteers were sought and obtained in experienced workers who willingly with eyes wide open go into the inner sanctum and be blessed with the light. By this single charitable act, they have vindicated themselves from all the sins that they have committed in words, thoughts and deeds in the past, and in the process salvaged their souls. They shall suffer and so shall their families, spouse and children, but they shall have pride for the rest of their days. It is in moments like this when we can reflect and realise how we in our little excuses are nothing but petty selfish individuals bent on lying to ourselves and those who will listen to us so that we may maintain our little arrogance deep in our hearts.

3 comments:

walla said...

Last year this time homage was paid to those who had passed away. Now it's time again to do the same.

With each passing year, the duration between these appointments seems to contract.

As one ages, time seems to move faster even as one's remaining time becomes less.

Yet how can time be seen to be moving faster when one's bodily processes are getting slower?

It is as though nature and man's inner clock are beating with the same tempo to say that as one gets older, one must unravel from and relinquish the coils and attachments of life.

Perhaps that's why the Fukushima 50 are volunteers from older men who are taking an example from the Chernobyl 31 who had given their lives to inert the plant by pouring concrete onto it despite massive irradiation in their midst.

Ordinary men doing extraordinary deeds which they could not possibly have imagined they would be doing barely weeks before.

When man faces a mortal inevitability, he calculates the most optimal move to take in the most defining moment of his life; the old having lived longer sacrifice themselves so that the young can have their crack at life in much the same way the older ones after the Kobe earthquake had just expired their will to live so as not to burden their young who had lost everything.

All know the workers are sacrificing themselves. They are walking the only path presented to them - someone has to do it otherwise more will suffer. They are zenifying their fate.

Yet was there another sacrifice earlier on - when the decision to go nuclear was made despite knowing there would be no safeguards against an earthquake hitting a nuclear plant? Was risk taken without sufficient calculation or investment in countermeasures?

walla said...

Much of the wealth of the west was made by pillaging the east and other less developed nations. It was this wealth which had laid the foundation for their ability to define, build, practice and defend individual rights and anoint the self with the freedom to individualize itself.

If the west had remained poor and underdeveloped with millions mired in poverty, providing their own peoples rights can lead to a million voices of discontent without the rationalizing skills having developed on time to reach consensus. Anarchy may happen, defeating the very process that would have built a stronger foundation for individual wealth which would itself and in time have made rights-building of individuals more assured.

The key to both west and east is therefore leadership. If the leadership merely plays politics even when playing economics, then the peoples and country will suffer because political reasons will fly off the handles of economic reasons.

Such as when leaders define rights for a whole race when such a definition would mean rights for the individuals of the race in which case more rights for one race member would mean less rights for members of other races, thereby creating the first of many contradictions - namely, there is a fundamental difference between one another.

The effect of such a stand is to drive the very wedge between all which a moment's thought would have avoided since no one has ever prospered alone independent of the support from others including those not of his kind.

In some cases, the application of rights has become more insidious and sophisticated. Support for schools and places of faith of other tribes are malignantly neglected and officially disapproved despite an increasing demand for them based on natural growth of the population concerned.

This sly intervention is excused on the ground that those tribes are not the official tribe.

If the leader is seen not to do a thing about this, others around him will take it that silence means consent to do the same elsewhere, even in other things. The result is further tension, enmity, mistrust and all the bad emotions which create tremblors.

pooja nabar said...
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