Sunday, April 07, 2013

We Are One Species



1.
Iain Banks’s writing is not familiar to me. A few days ago, from a BBC news article I came to know about his terminal cancer. So sad that news was! Only 59 years old. The Times mentioned him in their 2008 list “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945”. Per Wiki he wrote 26 novels and is apparently to publish his last novel this year.

I have read a second article today in The Guardian, and the writer is Iain Banks. This article was extracted from an earlier essay the writer wrote as “Our People” in 2010 in a book titled “Generation Palestine: Voices from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement”.

I find that it is not easy to write anything about the mess both Palestinians and Israelis are in for many decades. I’d written some articles before, denouncing both the bloody terrorism and disproportionate responses and meaningless provocations from both sides. These days I am hesitant to write anything more on this painful subject, as so many essays, books and fine analysis written about this problem, by so many brilliant and thoughtful writers around the world, including humanists from Israel and Palestine, one more writing seems to me would not change the wrecking course of this runaway disaster.

This morning, Iain Banks’ writing in The Guardian has helped me changing my mind. Why would I not write? Is it only for not adding another article in the vast expanse of expanding Internet that perhaps not many people read anyways? Or is it for outright fear? The fear of getting maligned or worse, for expressing thoughts in support of millions of vulnerable people in a faraway land? Iain Banks did not fear to write for what he believed to be the truth. Nor did countless many during and after the Second World War, describing inhumanity of The Holocaust, the agonies, buried tears of millions of tortured and gassed human beings only because of their ethnicity or religion.

Some say and wag their naysaying fingers for not to meddle with the painful subjects of history. But, I say, how do human beings can progress to greater, matured and peaceful enlightenment unless taking the lessons from history, refreshing the forgetting memories, so that the similar genocides will not repeat? The answer I believe is self-evident. Human beings’ progression to a greater civilization where wars, violence and naked or subtle hatred will only be described in books of history or museums is possible, but not without our collective and individual struggles.
Here is an extract from Iain Banks’ article that summarizes everything that need to be known about injustice:

“The solution to the dispossession and persecution of one people can never be to dispossess and persecute another. When we do this, or participate in this, or even just allow this to happen without criticism or resistance, we only help ensure further injustice, oppression, intolerance, cruelty and violence in the future.
We may see ourselves as many tribes, but we are one species, and in failing to speak out against injustices inflicted on some of our number and doing what we can to combat those without piling further wrongs on earlier ones, we are effectively collectively punishing ourselves.”
Voluminous texts are written in the field of human psychology or social anthropology, however, why injustices are still rampant in this supposedly more progressive 21st century? It is still shameful, oh yes, I am also involved in this shameful cowardice and uncaring attitude,  and indeed it is utterly appalling for us the so called master of our “free wills”, taking our eyes and ears away from the tears, screamed agonies of our fellow beings.
If you read Iain Bank’s words carefully, you will see his loud emphasis on the following: “we are one species, and in failing to speak out against injustices inflicted on some of our number and doing what we can to combat those without piling further wrongs on earlier ones, we are effectively collectively punishing ourselves.”

We are punishing ourselves, and condemning our future generations to do the same, and contributing in the degradation of human progression back toward shadowy ages I believe no modern human beings would like to turn back to.

2.
Palestinians’ and Israelis’ painful saga is one mere example. In addition to other wrongful wrecks that are ongoing, like in brutal civil war in Syria, never ending violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, theocratic Iran, puzzling North Korea and its starving population where a despot ruler threatens the world with nuclear toys, Pakistan’s dubious killings, the heartless drones, extra judicial killings of innocent children, women and men, not only in the troubled regions we all know about, but also in relatively stable places like Bangladesh, Burma, India, Philippines, etc., do not bode well toward a peaceful world.

One example I will elaborate is Bangladesh where the entire nation seems to be slowly moving toward more violence, pitting opposing factions against each other by possibly clever political ploys. Iain Banks’ warning can easily be applied to Bangladesh. The recent arrests of bloggers is a troubling sign. Why would a democratic government arrest anyone for simply expressing their opinions? Should a democratic nation discard its sacred promise to protect humanity and preserve equality for all to please the fanatical demands of any factions? What the heck a blasphemy law means anyway? One man’s religious belief or lack of belief may not align with another, but does that mean he or she needs to be subjugated by the thumb down majority rule?

The problem in Bangladesh is that both the ruling and the opposition parties have lost people’s trust in them because of their past utter dishonesty, corruption and for using violence and deception to achieve political goals. This has created a dangerous vacuum, where the two diametrically opposing elements, the religionists supported by the reactionary parties like Jamaat and BNP, and the so called progressive and the liberal left initially pampered by the ruling party Awami League are at each other’s throat, like two ferocious warriors fighting over their precious claim on the mismanaged nation. Without solving the core of the problem that the writer Iain Banks so eloquently written for injustices occurring in another place this will remain unresolved. Only by stopping our collective punishment, by not piling one wrong over another in the name of camouflaged revenge and counter revenge, this odorous nastiness in Bangladesh can be solved and people’s trust on their elected government and opposition can be re-established.

3.
Jim Holt, the writer of “Why Does the World Exist”, presented some inquisitive questions in his pleasantly readable book. What stuck to my mind reading it, is that the feeling that possibly other human beings and maybe other species grasp from time to time, and it is that eureka moment, when one understands how lucky one is to be alive at all, in this probabilistically random world, in a solar system residing in a lonely corner of a vast galaxy containing 200 to 400 billion stars, that is itself part of an expanding universe with possibly more than 100 billion galaxies of various sizes, and perhaps, this incomprehensibly gigantic universe is part of a more intricate complex systems of multi verses, for which the origin and the end is still widely debated.

Our existence in this world, how miniscule it may seem in the overall scheme of the universe and beyond, does not have to be meaningless. We are one species, human or non-human, in this timeline, inherited the past history of triumphs and failures from our buried predecessors. The finiteness of our brief existence in this universal randomness or perhaps pre-ordained fate, is linked with each one of us. The same is true for our actions, inactions, caring and uncaring in front of struggles to achieving fairness for all.

Here is a poem of Allen Ginsberg “Gone Gone Gone” who understood life and its meaning like Iain Banks:

“Gone Gone Gone”
“The wan moon is sinking under the white wave and time is sinking with me, O!”
–Robert Burns

yes it’s gone gone gone
gone gone away
yes it’s gone gone gone
gone gone away
yes it’s gone gone gone
gone gone away
yes it’s gone gone gone
it’s all gone away
gone gone gone
won’t be back today
gone gone gone
just like yesterday
gone gone gone
isn’t any more
gone to the other shore
gone gone gone
it wasn’t here to stay
yes it’s gone gone gone
all gone out to play
yes it’s gone gone gone
until another day
no one here to pray
gone gone gone
yak your life away
no promise to betray
gone gone gone
somebody else will pay
the national debt no way
gone gone gone
your furniture layaway
plan gone astray
gone gone gone
made hay
gone gone gone
Sunk in Baiae’s Bay
yes it’s gone gone gone
wallet and all you say
gone gone gone
so you can waive your pay
yes it’s gone gone gone
tomorrow’s another day
gone last Saturday
yes it’s gone gone gone
gone gone gone
turned old and gray
yes it’s gone gone gone
bald & old & gay
gone gone gone
whitebeard & cold
yes it’s gone gone gone
cashmere scarf & gold
yes it’s gone gone gone
warp & woof & wold
yes it’s gone gone gone
gone far far away
to the home of the brave
down into the grave
yes it’s gone gone gone
moon beneath the wave
yes it’s gone gone gone
so I end this song
yes this song is gone
gone to kick the gong
yes it’s gone gone gone
No more right & wrong
yes it’s gone gone gone
gone gone away






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