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If I can just give to the world more than I take from it, I will be a very happy man. For there is no greater joy in life than to give. Motto : Live, Laugh and Love. You can follow me on Twitter too . My handle is @Raja_Sw.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Children of a lesser God ?

This piece was written on 6th August 2006. The war in Lebanon had been raging for almost a month. Pictures of the war were being streamed into our living rooms every minute. Some of us can remain detached. Some cannot. I must confess to getting rather despondent at that time.

At such times, I write. Write whatever comes to my mind. Write for myself - not for anybody else. It gives me some peace of mind. No, that is not right - not peace of mind, just some psychological relief.

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I am a disturbed person.

As the war in the Middle East rages on, the rest of the world tries to conduct its business in as normal a manner as possible. To be able to do so, requires a tremendous ability to distance oneself from events that one cannot control or influence. For the pictures streaming in on one’s home TV or on the internet (which is becoming as much of a medium, if not a more potent one, to share live pictures and opinion) make it very difficult to stay disengaged.

Those focussed on their own lives, and on the immediate world around them, will not have an issue at all. They realize that world events, especially wars and natural disasters, happen all the time. And as long as this does not touch them, they see no point in wasting time getting involved.

Sometimes I wish I could be indifferent too. Or just take it in my stride. If there is a war going on in Lebanon, why does it bother ME so much ? I don’t live there. None of the persons particularly dear to me in my life live in Lebanon or Israel, or even Syria for that matter.

Yet I am extremely disturbed by the war that has been raging there for close to a month now. It is not just the horrific pictures. From years of watching pictures of war on TV, I cannot remember images other than those of destruction, bloodshed, weeping family members and vows of revenge. And of course the mandatory military press briefing. That is the face of war that the public at large sees.

It is obviously not quite the same as actually being in a war-zone. Wondering when that next rocket is going to fall and how far from you that will be. Wondering whether you should move to another place (maybe a bunker close by) or stay put. Wondering how long the supplies you have will last you and your family and whether you should go for a replenishment trip. And if so, when.

The smallest of travails seems to have risk associated with it – something that those of us, sitting in the comfort of our living rooms, do not have to put up with. We just have to put up with the images we see on TV. And even that we do not have to – there are always the entertainment channels to switch to.

After all, it is somebody else’s war. It is somebody else’s nightmare. It is somebody else’s fate. We cannot espouse every cause in the world, nor can we help our own cause by getting involved. There is the political machinery of each country and established international institutions like the United Nations which have the political framework and the military apparatus to tackle war – it is their job to do so.

Indeed it is. We, the common people, have no role to play. We may have an opinion but it counts for zilch.

Maybe I just need to accept this. That my opinion counts for nothing. If I had wanted to be able to influence global events, perhaps I should have entered public life. Even then it would have been a very long shot to be able to make a difference but at least I would have been in the right profession. From where I am today, I feel I cannot even influence things happening in my own backyard, let alone things happening halfway around the world.

Somebody once said something about the pen being mightier than the sword. I think it was Rabindranath Tagore. Maybe that is an option. To be able to express oneself so powerfully and to be able to communicate with the masses and the powers-that-be , with just the power of the pen.

With the proliferation of communication means nowadays, it should be easy, sitting in one’s own drawing room, to be able to get one’s message across. A lot of people do this – and some, quite effectively too. My challenge is that I lack the self-confidence to put my views out there and to be able to engage in debate on them. I cannot argue on history, on what happened thousands of years ago around the time of Christ, what happened on the formation of Israel, what UN resolutions have or have not been issued since then to attempt to keep peace in the region.

The bottom line therefore is that if I choose to go the “power of the pen” route, I do not have enough content to be able to make a meaningful case for my argument. (To be honest, I doubt that a case can anyway be won on content in this highly-emotional, highly-disputable and fuzzy issue). I do not have a choice of going any other route because I have no political influence whatsoever.

On top of this, I feel that this war, whenever it officially ends, is only a precursor for bigger wars to come because the battle lines have been drawn so clearly now – and in blood – that rapprochement, always a difficult objective, is now going to be almost impossible to establish. Co-existence, for long a difficult but still viable mission and vision, now seems to be a million miles away.

And, I am not able to distance myself from this subject. It may sound stupid but I am just not able to look away from those scenes or switch off the TV or change the channel. For the truth is what it is – and does not disappear by one's choosing to ignore it.

This is our world - these are our children who are dying due to politics and war. What have they done wrong ? I don't care whether they are Israeli or Lebanese. Jew, Muslim or Christian. Try explaining to these innocent souls about UN resolutions. Are they children of a lesser God ?

Like I said at the start of this piece, I am a disturbed person. Small wonder.

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