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 Blooming Stars

Status of the World –5

            5.Freedom factor:The most distinguishing characteristic of a human being is freedom. Human beings are born to be free. Animals are determined. Animals cannot engage in evil acts. Humans because of their freedom can. Humans without freedom are also determined. Their owners make choices for them. There was a time in the United States when persons belonging to the white race debated if black persons had souls. It was easier for them to treat the black race (African Americans) like animals especially if they were thought not to have souls. In the caste system, however, the so-called low castes were thought to be lower forms of humans. The most interesting and amazing thing is that in all this human’s inhumanity to human, two major religions (Christianity in the west and Hinduism in the east) had given not only their stamp of approval but also actively participated in them. Practitioners of these evil systems were religious persons. Pockets of discriminations still exist in different parts of the world. For instance, in my recent visit to Pampa, whence the pilgrimage starts on foot to the famous Sabarimala shrine in Kerala, there was a notice stating that girls and women between the age of 10 and 50 could not visit the shrine. Certain exclusive clubs in the west would limit admission only to whites and men.

            That freedom and equality are in the laws or constitutions of countries does not mean that they are practiced in reality. It is also difficult to think that our own ancestors were part of such evil, satanic race and caste systems. Yet who knows we, in our lack of wisdom and awareness, could very well have been part of these very systems that we are now condemning. Millions of heroic people all over the world throughout centuries died for their freedom and for what they believed in. Gandhiji was once asked as to how he would face Nazism in Germany, where about 60 lakhs (6 million) Jewish people were killed between 1933 and 1945 in what is known as Holocaust – the most abhorrent genocide in humanity - in a non-violent fashion. His response was that one should be willing to face death as a soldier would for his country. It is very important to examine if freedom is worth the sacrifice of one’s life. The immortal words “Give me liberty, or give me Death” uttered at the end of a speech in 1775 by Patrick Henry fighting for American Independence from colonial Britain still reverberates in the air for all freedom loving people.

            It is also important to keep in mind various types of freedom: political, economic, social, moral, inner, and even glorious liberty of God’s children. Political freedom involves not only freedom from foreign invading armies or gradual occupying forces but also from native kings/queens, dictators, or pseudo-democratic autocrats. Many nations had to struggle and undergo long painful suffering to become free from colonialism, dictatorships, authoritarian regimes, or hereditary monarchies. In the last twenty years, for instance, the collapse of authoritarian Soviet Union spawned many new democratic nations. Nelson Mandela spearheaded a non-violent movement to free South Africa from legally institutionalized segregation of races (apartheid) and immoral white supremacy. I consider Mandela’s becoming the first president of free South Africa after 27 years of horrendous prison life in apartheid South Africa to be a true miracle and an exceptional testimony to the human spirit. The king of Nepal was forced out of power a few years ago.

            A few weeks ago, Ben Ali, the president of Tunisia, a dictator for 23 years, fled the country after being forced out of power by popular outrage. As I am writing this, the popular protests in Egypt are coming to a head, and the position of Hosni Mubarak, an autocratic president of the country for 30 years, is very precarious. All this tells us that human beings are more and more aware of their rights, and they want political freedom and democracy as their inalienable rights. In a true and enlightened democracy there is no role for nominal monarchies as head of states with limited powers or political dynasties. The writing is clearly on the wall for all people to see and voluntarily relinquish, before it is too late, any power that does not come from any elected positions in a true and enlightened democracy. This also applies to religious organizations such as the Catholic Church governed by a self-perpetuating monarchy-like hierarchical structure modeled on the old imperial Roman system as well as a theocratic system of government directed by a supreme mullah as, for instance, in Iran. People all over the world are waking up, and are less willing to tolerate anything that compromises with their rightful political freedom.


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