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 Blooming Stars


            I came to the United States from India in August to take care of some family and business commitments. I had planned to meet friends and acquaintances. But a strong internal sense made me get into a long seclusion that involved reading and meditation after taking care of essential demands. I started on three books: Dictionary of the History of Ideas (Studies of Pivotal Ideas) on the topic of Socialism, The Origin of the Jesuits by James Brodrick, and Parting the Waters (America in the King Years, 1954-1963, by Taylor Branch). I read these books intermittently and reflect on what I read depending on my inclinations at the time.

            Democratic Socialism, where essential human freedom is preserved at the same time everyone’s basic needs are met, is certainly the clear way for humankind. It has not happened so far. Is it then a mere utopian idea? It can only happen when the deeply entrenched individual selfishness is shaken up, tamed, and managed for enlightened self-interest as well as the welfare of the entire humanity. Human has to come to a holistic realization that one’s self-interest itself depends on common good, that is, the entire well-being of humanity. This awareness needs to be an essential part of any informal and formal educational program. It has to necessarily get into the formation of everyone’s conscience. There is nothing sacrosanct about private property that governs nearly all laws and transactions. All resources are given for all humans to reach humanity’s destiny. Authoritarian communism has failed; unbridled capitalism has failed. We need to try Enlightened Democratic Socialism that strives for consensus or near viable and practical consensus (about 67 %?) with regard to major national and global decisions.

            The very early Jesuits (11 of them) in early 1600’s were well-educated, and came from well-to-do families. Taking a vow of poverty, they gave up everything for their cause. They carried their ministry while begging for their food and shelter. They shared with the poor what they got from their begging. Interestingly two of them with Master of Arts degrees from the University of Paris landed up in Ferrara, a university city in Italy. They got accommodation in the poorest hospice in the city where a very suspicious, spying, shrewish matron inspected them stark naked before they were given miserable beds. The Jesuit pair was finally rescued from their indignity and semi-starvation by a lady friend of Michael Angelo, who became interested in them after seeing them at their daily devotions. If there ever was a commune, this was it. I must say I was privileged to belong to a much modified version of this Jesuit commune and community life in the modern era for 25 years.

            The well-documented, detailed life of Martin Luther King, Jr., during the height of civil rights movement and major changes in the desegregated, racist America during the ten years (1954-1963) is fascinating. It has many parallelisms with the caste-infected India. I want to cite one interesting incident. In 1953 when King got married, resorts, motels, and hotels were prohibited by law to serve blacks, and the closest thing to a public accommodation he got on his wedding night was a funeral parlor! The anniversary of his march on Washington on August 28, 1963, and his historic dream speech has been haunting me in the last few days. There he said in such a resounding, melodious tone: “I have a dream that one day... the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood…I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by their character...”

            We all have a dream. What kind of a society is our dream? What is our dream for humanity? The three great evils of humanity: racism, casteism, and colonialism with their attending tragic consequences of slavery and servitude, segregation and discrimination have ended only legally on papers in the latter part of 20th century. I have a dream that all kinds of discriminations on the basis of color, caste, creed, and sex may be wiped out of the face of the earth.



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