Science and Future of Mankind Essay

‘Heart-transplant patient feels fine!’ ‘Computers to be installed all over Pakistan Nuclear treaty signed!’ These and similar headlines effortlessly laid out in daily newspapers the world over seem to dispel even the gravest doubts about the peace and prosperity – mankind can look forward to in the days unborn. But respite over the tension-free prospect insinuated in stimulating headlines is instantly disturbed by contrastingly horrifying captions: “China explodes another nuclear bomb !” ‘India and other countries not to sign nuclear treaty !’ ‘Rhodesian freedom fighters executed!’. ‘Martin Luther King assassinated !’ As long as newsmen are forced to report pleasant as well as unpleasant news to their newspapers, it is difficult to say whether man’s future is going to be better or worse than his present. A lot depends on how politicians on both sides of the globe are going to tackle certain issues which have assumed threatening proportions, and may any moment bring about a situation in which past, present and future will lose relevance.

At the very outset all sane politicians, scientists and intellectuals must plan campaign and get implemented provisions and programmes effecting complete disarmament. Although millions of words have been written espousing the cause of disarmament, they have as yet not been successful in imparting urgency to its implementation. It is a pity that one man refuses to learn from the errors of the other. The terrible experiences of the two world-wars are already looked upon as events meant exclusively for students of history. If one talks to a reasonably educated man about the uncertainty of the future in the presence of nuclear weapons, on the conscious plane he is visibly disturbed, may be even horrified. But on the subconscious level he cannot help feeling a sadistic sense of satisfaction on the prospects of getting rid of his nagging wife in the event of nuclear bombardment. Complacency in the use of nuclear weapons is also responsible for apathy in effecting disarmament.

Most people are living under the illusion that nuclear weapons will not be used as everyone is aware of their destructive potential. Bertrand Russell has effectively exposed the sense of complacency with the help of an analogy. Supposing he says, highly fissionable explosives are placed on the margin of road constantly traversed by people with lighted cigarettes. There are playcards warning passersby of instant death if a burning cigarette end is thrown on the explosives. No doubt, such a warning will be effective for some time. But someday or the other some reckless introvert is bound to commit the fatal mistake. Sufficiently analogous is the condition of man so long as nuclear weapons are readily available. It may be conceded that being alive to the destructive nature of these weapons, rulers, politicians, and diplomats all over the world are opposed to their use. There is no guarantee, however, that their diffidence will be shared by their counterparts in posterity.

The inescapable fact is that man is sitting on a volcano of nuclear weapons which may blow up at any moment. It is in this context that we have to hazard an assessment regarding the future of mankind in the age of science. All initiatives on disarmament hitherto have drawn blank practically, and as things stand today nothing sensational is likely to be achieved in at least the near future. It is a pity that the grave issue is being taken up nonchalantly even by people who happen to be fully conscious of the threat posed by apathy towards disarmament. What is needed is a relentlessly radical approach to the whole question.

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Knowledgeable people like Lord Russell have come to the conclusion that to expect voluntary disarmament is to ask from humanity something contrary to their natural impulses and instincts. It will have to be enforced. The plea for the formation of a world government to effect disarmament is more often than not looked down upon as utopian. It sounds utopian because no body is prepared to consider it seriously. Those who have the wisdom to gauge its utility have no hesitation in declaring that it is only through the formation of world government that disarmament can be brought about and mankind saved from impending disaster.

It is evident that the structure of the proposed world government by necessity will be different from the U.N.O.’s. The present world organization does not constitute a government in any sense of the term. A government must be in a position to punish those who defy its authority, a requirement of which the U.N.O. was deprived of by virtue of the veto. Consequently, it has been reduced to an international body quite prolific in passing resolutions but sadly deficient in getting them implemented. World government must have the capacity to punish those who refuse to abide by its wishes. In order to achieve its objectives, it should have at its beck and call powerful international army comprising men of all nations.

World government shaped in this mould should aim at effecting complete disarmament. In addition to the monopoly of nuclear weapons, it should also have control over the raw material of these weapons. As a matter of fact, member nations should be allowed only such weapons as are necessary for police action. Besides, the international body would have to supervise enactment or revision of treaties or alliances between different countries lest a few rebellious nations should join hands and successfully challenge its authority. In any case, international government after its formation should assume all conceivable powers directed at effecting total disarmament.

Apart from the terror of nuclear weapons threatening the future of mankind in the age of science, there is another unwholesome development which has forced men of vision to look at the days ahead with apprehension. Hemmed in by organizations and associations, men and women everywhere have been reduced to the non-entity of a cog in a gigantic machine. In consequence, they have hardly any individuality of their own. If the process of mechanization continues unabated, sooner than later man will find himself strangled in a world inhumanly alien and intolerably unfriendly. Already there is a mad race for money, success and power. Men feigning struggle for existence have ceased to seek and admire values for which life is worth living. Opportunities and initiative and self-expression are becoming few and far between. People with blank faces and apathetic eyes often ask themselves, “What for should we live ?” No wonder prevalence of death-wish is a marked feature of the present generation.

Unable to express themselves in a constructive manner, a man in the scientific age turns to seek cynical pleasure from misadventures which inevitably have and will result in decadence in every walk of life. Leisure, fruitfully employed in days gone. by, is for one thing scarce, for another, not all made use of. If the maxim “when civilization advances, poetry declines” is true, it is equally true to say that when science advances, values decline.

These, in short, are a few though not the few distracting notes rendering the prospects of a bright future rather remote. Within a few years, man on this planet will be called upon to make certain vital decisions. In the first place, he will have to choose between loss of liberty and anarchy. If he chooses the former, he will have to subject himself to international control and total disarmament. Secondly, he will have to simmer down and call occasional halts to his round-the-clock engagements. Lastly, he will have to bring meaning to his existence.

Next few years, possibly are likely to be decisive. It should be a pity if man chose to remain a victim of bis baser instincts because in so doing he will be making a mockery of everything he can be proud of. One only wishes sanity to guide man’s actions in the future. If present trends, however, are any criterion, man’s wishes do not seem likely to be fulfilled.

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