Musings on the Millennium

Turning and Turning in the widening gyre.
The falcon cannot hear the falconer.
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. 
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

(WB Yeats- The second coming)

The above prophetical lines of poet William Butler Yeats reverberate in my ears as I mark here my musings on the millennium. We have not traversed much in this millennium. We still have blurred memories of its bigheaded beginning. But, who can tell how we began the last millennium? Was it in thunder, storm or lightening? May be the sun, who for sure has seen all the days and its spectacles, can tell us about it. History teaches us the rise, decline and fall of many empires, discovery of unfounded lands, inventions of machines and materials. It sings the saga of progress of humanity from scratch to satellites. One thing is certain. History has been getting thicker and thicker as it approached this millennium. Perhaps the past and the present centuries may peak the page count. We had enough wars to play with during the last century ' the first, second and many third world wars, kept superbly alive by the superpowers. We saw then a superpower not holding its center and crashing into super zilch. The mere anarchy and upshot of its blood-dimmed tide still continues to rage. We now have peace kept in suspended animation.

The grim tales of holocaust of the last millennium proved that there is no limit to the crimes that man can commit on himself. What a paradox that the progenies of the holocaust victims have built more concentration camps in the middle East ! War for Peace is now the thesis of some nations. Everyday events of naked horror and barbarity in Iraq and Palestine have made my heartbeat irregular. The incessant blood letting goes on without any respite. Our icy indifference and increasing tolerance to these crimes dazes my senses. Are we entering into an emotional ice age? I sometimes wake up in terror as cold sweat trickles down my body. Militants march with momentum while militia prove themselves to be the most unthinking people in the world. Surely, the best lack conviction and the worst are full of passionate intensity. As cities die, men hole up deeper and deeper. Heads fall like hailstorm while heads of states holler for harmony . I have stopped counting the millions that have passed into premature graves. The earth is now more redolent of death than birth.

The words of TS Eliot suddenly rings true. ' This is the way the world ends : Not with a bang, but a whimper'.

The millennium man trumpets man's evolution into super-tech human beings. Our litany has no limits. We conquered the moon though our romantic imagination suffered a set back. We created life by cloning and it may take the romance from our life as well. Production scaled new heights each year, so also the number of beggars. Smokestacks continue to grime the sky and the ink of the sky is now blue black. Man has cured many incurable diseases, but he still aids in creating new ones. We are now more worried about viruses of machines than men. At the start of this new millennium, I saw more anxiety than expectation. A millennium bug was chasing the millennium man. All happenings around the world make me wonder whether all the best efforts of mankind have become futile. I am in a moral dilemma. Has each year made man more impudent. What is the essence of this millennium? I am afraid to press it too hard, lest the pus should ooze out.

We have become a generation glued to TV and computers and loosing our sensitivity to finer sentiments in life. We live in a world of images and build our hollow dreams on it. Each day we end up creating worse imitations of ourselves. We build brave new relationships to behold our blood knots breaking into smithereens. Morality is not a practice but a gesture. As Hemingway once remarked, ' What is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after'. Merits are meekly trounced and mediocrity wins medals. Instant pleasure and instant wealth have become our motto. Like the man in the Aesop fable, we run with rapiers in our hands to cut all the geese to find the golden eggs. In the consumer society, we have become prisoners of addiction and prisoners of envy. We flout our barren spirituality in the most shameless manner. I open all the shrines to find my elusive god and I see the gleam of gold rush everywhere. I flock to sanctuaries in frenzy to seek spiritual salvation. I discover there demi-gods, duplicate-gods and deviant-gods duping me. My night of anxiety is well portrayed in the words of the American philosopher George Santayana, 'We are sailing ever deeper into the dark, uncharted waters. The lights in the lighthouses are beginning to go out. Is there anything to guide us? Is there anyone worth listening to?'

Well, no sudden flash of insight presents a quick fix solution to our problems. The millennium has failed to bring us a new pair of eyes. The least we can do is to remove our shady glasses. Each of us can be a drop of clarity in the bucket of confusion. Millionaires of this millennium must discriminate their wants and needs to ensure that the oil of luxury is not staining them. Nations have died only in affluence and never in poverty. Share and grow should be our shared vision. Nations and its natives must drop their veil of vanity and don the shining face of charity, simplicity and reciprocal respect. War for peace must portent goodbye to guns. Together we must fling the frock of fear in every tremulous terrain to let in the flow of freedom. Let us not make this world a widening valley of tears; let us build mountains of joy in it. Let us lift up every hunchback to heighten his dignity. Let our heart be our lamp in this darkness.

The world may still be governable with just a few stories. But they have to be the right ones.   


More by :  P. G. R. Nair

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