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 Blooming Stars

Many Faces of Humanity

            Life is a flow. While some are engaged to life in the flow of the Great Stream of life, others are mere spectators of life passing by like bumps on drift wood deposited on the shore of the Stream by the current. I put myself in the flow of traveling from one side of the globe to the other a few days ago. Traveling was enjoyable once. Not anymore. Now it is for the strong and the stout-hearted. Getting from point A to point B is a drudgery to be endured with patience, determination, and resignation, thanks to Global Terrorism. It is, of course, different for the young and the new. They will never know the pleasure of old time traveling before various networks of terrorism took over the air-ways.

            I still vividly remember the time in 1982 when my plane from Mumbai had arrived at New York late, and I ran from the International terminal to the Domestic terminal to catch a flight to St. Louis, and walked right into the plane without any cumbersome security check and a boarding pass, and that too one minute before the door to the plane shut. The other day (August 6, 2013), I travelled from Munnar area to Kochi International Airport against all odds in sheer faith. Tragedy in the form of huge avalanches of muds and boulders destroying homes and buildings struck my hometown of Kunchithanni causing deaths and sheer devastation on the night of August 5.

            The avalanches shut down the entire town. Roads piled-up high with mud-slides, trees, and other debris was blocked for traffic. Many stretches of the mountain road to the airport were closed due to avalanches. While clearing avalanches at the Cheeyappara Waterfalls, rescue workers were killed by further rock falls; several tourist vehicles were also washed away. To cap it all, the international airport at Kochi was closed due to flooding of runways. I drove for 4 hours my 4-wheel drive jeep along tough mountain terrain that included a long diversion on a very narrow bumpy road with ruts in a forest inhabited by wild animals to arrive at the air-port about nine hours before my plane was scheduled to depart.

            It is the hours during the natural catastrophe just before and during the long tiresome journey from Kunchithanni (Munnar) to Kochi and to Dallas via Abu Dhabi and Washington, D.C. that the many faces of humanity across the globe dawned on me. I saw everyone in a somber mood around Kunchithanni on the day of the tragedy. Yet I witnessed sobbing and weeping, laughter and mirth in spots. The vastness of unimaginable and unstoppable destruction due to avalanches awed all, and covered their faces with fear, insecurity, and uncertainty.

            Some of the calamities could have been prevented if the culverts in Kunchithanni were not blocked, and if the drainage systems were not clogged, and if the safety codes for buildings were observed. Again and again I have observed that many persons, intelligent though they are, still have to learn the very costly lesson that prevention is better than cure. My journey to the US caused some inconveniences. It could have been postponed. My inconveniences were nothing compared to the loss of lives and life-time earnings. The tired, weary, and sad faces, in the world’s airports, coming from burying a loved one, visiting relatives and leaving them behind were there.

            So were the joyous faces of those returning from vacations and reunions. The excited faces arising from the desire and hope of starting a new and prosperous life in a new world of opportunities were also part of the blend. The faces of children were the mirror of the world where no joy or pain, no wonder or disgust was concealed. They needed constant attention and stimulation. The whole world of cargo and luggage were also on the move. From the way the bags were tossed while loading and unloading at the airports, I had no doubts many choice pickle jars packed in their suitcases would be broken. I succeeded for the first time in my entire life in eliminating my usual two heavy suitcases, and managing only with essential cabin carry-owns. When I look at the things I did not use, I could have still eliminated some more items from my essentials.

            The jumbo jet was a micro-universe that displayed in a miniature way many things that go in the macro-universe. A burly man occupying the seat next to me showed all the signs of aggressive border incursions. He did not keep his husky body and hefty hands to his seat. My assertive stance to rest my hand on a part of hand-rest got me nowhere. And yet there were angels around. The young lady who yielded her turn so I could use the rest room when in bad need, and the young man who let me use his phone to make a much-needed call as I could not use my credit card (as it turned out the card had expired a few days earlier) come to my mind.

            It is relevant here to make a brief note on security checks. I wondered if the personnel for the security checks were recruited for their sadism. In my evaluation the US security personnel would stand out with regard to sadism. Sadism and arrogance are a deadly combination that detracts from humanity. I was subjected to 4 security checks between Kochi and Dallas. The fourth check was a special one at Abu Dhabi for the USA. I do not want to think I am marked for racial profiling as I stand out with a cap and an Ayatollah-like flowing beard. I will never understand why one would need to go through security checks while changing from one plane to another in a large well-managed airport.

            I could not but observe boredom and ennui visible overwhelmingly on the many faces of humanity. That got me thinking. How did humanity get here? Why are we not enjoying and celebrating life as we are supposed to? Truly in those faces of humanity marred by wants and needs, cares and concerns, deprivations and depredations, and traumas and catastrophes lay hidden treasures of human knowledge that needs to deliver wisdom. We have a great deal of knowledge, but very little wisdom. Facts gotten by science need to be interpreted and synthesized by philosophy.

            As Will Durant, a great synthesizer of leading philosophical thoughts put it: Science tells us how to heal and how to kill, but philosophy tells when to heal and when to kill. Or perhaps not to kill at all, where spirituality comes in. Currently only about one third of positive human energy of the entire world is used, the rest is buried under massive avalanches of greed, selfishness, and depression. We need to liberate the trapped two thirds of positive energy for a new direction for humanity. We need to put these many faces of humanity together instilling hope and love, bearing on them a synthesis of science, philosophy and spirituality so a new humanity can emerge.


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