The headlines say, ‘Muslim organizations are marching in protest before the Israeli Embassy in Delhi.’ ‘Muslims protest Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla.’ ‘BJP protests the attack on the pilgrims to Amarnath.’ ‘The Bishop addresses a gathering to protest the attacks on churches in Orissa.’ ‘Sikhs present a petition to highlight the denial of justice to the victims of the Sikh riots after the assassination of Indira Gandhi.’
As I read all these headlines I can’t help but ask the question, ‘Why is it that only people of the community or group that is effected protest the outrage?’ Is not injustice against one, injustice against all. Is it not about injustice itself first and not about who it is done to or who did it?
What is amazing and perhaps unique in a way about the Freedom Flotilla is the widespread attention that both the initiative itself as well as the results of the attack on it have received. People of all faiths, nationalities and political affiliations have joined hands in protesting the oppression of the Palestinians in general and of the siege of Gaza in particular. People have started to look at facts and have started to ignore propaganda. They have started asking questions to those who have become used to doing whatever they want without being questioned.
1. For example, if you invade and occupy someone’s land and they fight back, is it right or wrong?
2. Denying those people access to food, medicines, education, electricity, clean water only because they happen to be in the wrong place, is it right or wrong?
3. If you create a concentration camp inside someone else’s home and convert them into prisoners in their own backyard and they fight back, is it right or wrong?
4. If you then murder them out of hand, demolish their homes and livelihood, imprison and torture them and kill their children, and they protest and fight back, who is right? And who is wrong?
5. If you have a right to ‘defend’ your land, do others also have this right?
6. If you commit piracy on the high seas in international waters and the occupants of the boats you board fight back, is it right or wrong?
Ah! So at last the debate seems to be looking at facts. That is all that we have ever asked. Look at the facts. Then decide who is right and who is wrong. History is a fact course. It is not imagination and fantasy. It is the study of what actually happened, why it happened with the intention to look for ways to ensure that the future is better than the past.
I believe that we were not sent into this world to dominate it or conquer it or to impose our will on it. We were sent to live in it, in consonance with it, in harmony with it, as its caretakers and trustees. We were given special skills and knowledge not so that we could use them to oppress others and destroy all those who opposed us, but to better be able to ensure that peace prevails in the land and justice is done and the earth and its inhabitants are happy that we live on it. We need to remember that free fall and free flight both feel the same at one point, but it is the ending which spells life or death. In this case, not only our own but that of this beleaguered planet, whose enemies all live on it and draw sustenance from it.
We are never compelled to make one choice or another. But the doors that open, the vista that unfolds before our eyes and the road that beckons ahead all depend on the choice that we make. Behind each door is a different destiny. We get to choose which one we want to open and walk through into the world that it opens for us.
The fundamental laws that govern this world are beyond our control and operate without our permission. But they come into play when we want to do something that they govern. For example, the Law of Aerodynamics has existed from the beginning of time, but it became important to consider only when we decided to fly. Any flying machine that does not conform to the Law of Aerodynamics is doomed to fail. And until mankind learned that law and started to build machines which conformed to it, this is precisely what happened. The same is true of the laws of human relations, environmental health, human security and safety and justice and peace. If we want these things, we have to learn the fundamental laws that govern them and abide by them. Only then will we be able to create a society that is equitable, just, peaceful and healthy. Until then, no matter what language we use to fool ourselves into believing that the fundamental laws don’t apply to us, we will not be successful in creating such a society. And like someone in a machine that does not conform to the Law of Aerodynamics but jumps off a very tall cliff, may say to himself while he is falling rapidly towards the earth, “Well, I am flying and I am safe and uninjured!” – He is actually not flying but is falling and is only seconds away from a very messy ending. The law does not change nor does the ending just because we don’t want to follow it.
We must realize that we live in a world of cause and effect. If we want a particular effect then we have to address the cause that leads to that effect. Peace is an effect. Justice is its cause. If we want peace, we have to ensure that justice is done. Without justice peace will always remain an illusion. Enhancing oppressive rules, regulations, procedures and measures in the name of ensuring security will never succeed until we address the reasons for deteriorating human security. Like all fundamental laws this one is also very simple and easy to state and understand, provided we learn to accept the fact that fundamental laws are not in our control. After all when Newton stated, ‘Action and reaction are equal and opposite’, it did sound simple didn’t it? Well the complexity is to remind ourselves that this applies not only to physics, but also to human life in all its aspects.
It is for us to accept this reality and rejoice at the fact that our future is in our own hands – address the causes and we can go back to the days when we didn’t lock or doors or cars. Or say, ‘Ha! This guys is nuts. He’s too idealistic. All this is rubbish. We just need more guns, more scanners, more embedded chips and geo-locaters and we’ll be just fine.’
As they say, we are free to choose. But the choice is not free.