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In praise of life, liberation and freedom


NOW that we are at the crossroads of survival and virtual obliteration, it is time to take stock of our social and political traditions and theories of change.

Gross industrialism of the socialist and capitalist kind has dehumanised and robotised us humans. Many of us, though thankfully not all, have lost our vitality, colour and flair for life. Also our resilience, adaptability and capacity for change and improvement.

Industrialism has made us grow without roots. We are thus perched on precarious ground having to hold onto the nearest crutches for support and balance, the crutches of expensive medicine and health care. Industrialism of the kind we have produced and patronized has plasticised us into passive playthings of dubiously democratic governments and manipulators operating from the boardrooms of companies and corporations. We have been poisoned physically and psychologically by the products and processes of the military-political-industrial nexus nexus that cuts across political parties and systems. We are at the crossroads of political praxis as we have known it. Also of evolution and revolution as we have known them. One is too slow, the other too violent.

So, what is required is a volition for change from within us as individuals. A volition that can be transformed into ripples linking individuals, communities and nations. A linkage for sharing the pain that we have caused to life and nature, and for determination and strength on how to relieve and heal that pain. A linkage that uses person to person as well as global communications to spread hope, faith and charity instead of domination, fear, control and annihilation.

If we can hear the cries of pain and anger of mountain, jungle, river and valley; if we can feel the torment and hear the shrieking terror of typhoons and earthquakes; if we can see and sense the poison that has been injected into the life and culture of animals and those of our fellow humans who live in symbiosis with the elements, then it is time to take personal action here and now at this very moment.

We are talking of personal action that leads to a change in lifestyles. Action that leads to emptying out superfluous unecological consumption from our lives. Action that means emptying out a little of our wardrobe, reducing food intake, doing without personal refrigerators and cars, using organic products, patronising cottage industries on a mass scale and breaking down social and political barriers.

We should also be able to shed some of the ideological baggage that has divided individuals, communities and societies from each other. By ideological baggage, I mean slogans in the name of Christ, Ram, Islam, Marx, Gandhi whoever or whatever. But, at the same time let us not be shy to embrace anything in any tradition or ideology that enriches and preserves life, liberation and freedom.

Baljit Malik