We now live in very troubled times. Our sense and value of ourselves as human beings is being remodelled as our attention is devoured by the abstractions of virtual realities, fantasies, videogames, violence and vulgarity. Deep down, everyone is concerned about survival, pulling in and getting through life. Cultural denudation has confronted us with a new macabre reality. The dignity of truth has been derogated while wealth has been enthroned in regal splendour even while poverty grows as perniciously as ever. Yet, there are islets of hope.
There is much in common among people, both in terms of ideas and society they occupy. It is this which needs to be explored. We need to be able to see the other and say, “We understand you are different, but we also understand the difference.” There is ample scope for reconciliation if only we are willing to avail of the myriad opportunities confronting us. Despite the many superficial differences, all our deeper and more permanent values are similar.
The respect for knowledge, justice, compassion towards the less privileged, healthy family life, and the need to improve the here and now are commonalities that can be explored. The scriptural injunctions to look at the stars and wonder, to look at different peoples and races and wonder, to acquire knowledge and wonder, are all, in themselves, wonderful things. They evoke an essential spirit of humanity in facing the challenge of existence.
We have to get back to some elementary truths in life. We have to set out on a new journey and ask ourselves the same essential questions we have been taught to ask in our nursery age and look for meanings. Our parents had already resolved our dilemmas, but we have messed up the whole simple issue by our arrogance and our so perceived superior intelligence. We have to now travel inwards, and relearn and restate the truth. We have to foster an attitude of intellectual modesty and humility.
Every human being must realise that he needs to take stock of what s/he is, his or her beliefs, certainties and contradictions, conviction and self-doubt and of the freedoms and prisons of both his and of those who surround him. We need to have a philosophy of introspection, faith, morality or religion, the practice of initiation or self-denial; in any case we have to make a choice. If we do not, life will someday force us to question our choice.
As Wallace Stevens said, “Reality is a cliché from which we escape by metaphor.” We are living in changing times. With the world increasingly shrunk, all of us will be involved and not only through the television in living rooms but in far more direct ways than we can imagine. It is time for the people of vision to transcend their positions and aim to build bridges towards each other.